I turn 40 years old this week. Perhaps sharing my age isn’t the smartest business move, but I’m going somewhere with this – play along with me. Sales is in my blood; I just love the art (and science!) of selling, I work hard at it and I know I’m good at what I do.
Unfortunately, I haven’t always felt that I could be myself. I used to wish I was older, more mature or more experienced. I inherited good genes and I’ve never really looked my age. In business, that has often led me to wish I was something that I wasn’t.
I got a young start in the mortgage business, so by the time I was 27, I was traveling the country doing sales training for Wells Fargo Home Mortgage. On a fairly regular basis, a “seasoned” participant would come to me during a break. They would make a comment about my age and then (not so subtly) follow it up with a complicated question about a loan they were working on. It was obvious they already knew the answer – they were just testing me.
I always handled it well, but in the moment I often found myself wishing I was older (or at least wishing I looked older). I wanted to be something I wasn’t.
Thankfully, I’ve finally learned (or recognized) that maturity comes with knowledge and experience – not with age. Respect comes when others hear what you say and watch the way you handle yourself. I’ve learned that while adjusting your behavioral style to relate better with someone can be an incredible selling opportunity, you should never wish or act like you’re something other than what you are. I’ve worked incredibly hard to gain respect from my peers and clients and I know none of it happened because I was pretending to be something I wasn’t.
When Selling, Be Yourself
So, today my sales advice is to be yourself when you are selling. Here are some examples:
- Don’t pretend to love something if you don’t. If you currently sell a product or service that doesn’t excite you – if you don’t wake up in the morning excited to go prospect – then find something you are passionate about and go sell that instead.
- If you’ve got a tattoo that you’ve always felt you needed to hide, then look for a company/industry that embraces your ink.
- If your manager asks you to say something to a client that you’re not comfortable saying, then don’t say it.
- If you’re from an older generation, don’t worry about trying to be “hip”. Be proud of the experience and wisdom you bring to the table and focus on that.
- If you’re a young man or woman with a baby face and you wish you looked a little more experienced, accept who you are right now – your passion and confidence in yourself will take you further than faking anything ever will.
Be proud of your success and your failures. People buy from people they like, so be yourself and let people get to know you. Never try to act like the smartest person in the room; accept the fact that you can learn something from every person you meet. Embrace your age, embrace your looks, embrace your passion and fall in love with yourself all over again.
Put Your True Self in Your Sales Presentations
Some of the top salespeople I work with at organizations are loud, energetic, funny, motivational and sometimes a little over the top. It gets great results because it’s not an act; it’s a part of who they are. There are other top producers who are more serious and subdued, they make meaningful connections with a quiet intensity. And again, it works because it’s true to who they are. They’re all selling the same products and services (and in most cases with almost the exact same words), but in completely different ways. It works because they are true to themselves. If either tried to switch and do it the other way, it wouldn’t work. Because it wouldn’t be TRUE, and people can smell “fake” salespeople from a mile away.
So love who you are at this moment, and put it out there for everyone to see. I’m sharing this tip with you because it’s a lesson I wish I could have embraced sooner. In my next 40 years I promise to be me, experience (or inexperience), strengths, weaknesses and all.
I’m taking a few days off at the beach to celebrate my first 40 years. Feel free to send a message if you’d like and I’ll catch you on the flip side of 40!
Until next time – go sell some stuff!