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  • Terry L. Sumerlin

Three Things That Sell

Everyone sells! Perhaps you've never sold in a professional sense. However, have you ever sold an idea such as your choice of restaurants for the evening? Have you ever sold someone on the idea of marrying you? It's all persuasion, transference of feeling - selling. It goes on throughout the day, every day, for most of us. It ranges in importance from the mundane to the momentous.

Some people are better at selling than others. Children are especially good at it! So, we wonder what are some effective ways to sell ourselves, our ideas, our products or our services? However, before looking at three things that sell, let’s exclude an approach that sells but should not be used.

Though selling is sometimes done through manipulation, it’s a poor method. As one who specializes in ways to connect with others, I would never encourage or endorse any sales approach that takes advantage of another person and thus creates disconnect. That would be contrary to the first, and most important, characteristic of good selling – integrity.

Integrity: Integrity is where selling must begin. It’s the foundation for everything else. But what is integrity? “Honesty,” you might say. Yes, that’s certainly a big part of it.

There is definitely a need for honesty to return to many segments of society. The fact that it is often called “old-fashioned-honesty,” speaks to that. However, it needs to return not as a matter of style or policy, but as a matter of character. In this connection, I love what speaker and author John Maxwell says about integrity: “(It’s) doing what you said you would do, when you said you would do it, in the manner in which you said you would do it.” This provides a very good reason for someone to buy what we are selling. We’re trustworthy!

However, let’s notice something about those times when others don’t trust us. It may have nothing to do with not being trustworthy. It may simply be that the other person doesn’t know enough about us. That’s where transparency and communication are needed. Understand, transparency doesn’t give us integrity. We either have it or we don’t. But what a person needs to know in order to trust us and to make us believable is conveyed through open communication. And that sells!

Consistency: Ralph Waldo Emerson said: “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” There is no virtue in consistency just for the sake of claiming consistency. On the other hand, there is a type of consistency that should always exist. It’s consistency of high values.

Before others completely trust us, in addition to integrity, they must know what really matters to us – our values. As part of our values they must also know that they and everyone else matter to us.

Therefore, our behavior must be consistent with our values. Then, our behavior must be consistent and fair for everyone. There can be no playing favorites.

All of this is a tall order to fill. As a speaker who frequently talks about these things, I find it much easier to talk wise than to be wise. Wise words require no commitment. Wise lives do. But, through the kind of consistent commitment that we’ve just described, others are more inclined to commit to us.

Encouragement: Years ago, I heard a story about a 10-year-old boy who had never said a word. Tommy’s parents spent thousands of dollars on numerous specialists, but to no avail. He never uttered a word. Finally, one morning Tommy sat down at the breakfast table, slammed his fist on the table and exclaimed, “This toast is burnt!” Mom and Dad couldn’t believe it. They cried, they did a group hug, they did a happy dance. Finally, Dad said, “We spent all that money, took you to every specialist we could think of and, in ten years, you never said a word. What made you suddenly decide to talk?” The boy replied, “Well, until now everything’s been okay.”

Like Tommy, too many feel no need to talk unless they have something to criticize. Thus, some folks talk a lot – but only to the detriment of the workplace or wherever else they may be.

The general scarcity of praise and encouraging words gives reason for the positive impact that such words have on everyone. We want to cooperate with those who encourage us, we want to help them, we want to buy in, we want to spend time with them. We need them and highly value our relationships with them. Others need us to be that type of person.

The three things we’ve looked at have a prominent common thread: sincere and visible care for others. Comedian George Burns said regarding sincerity: “If you can fake that, you’ve got it made.” Though funny, I like much better what speaker and author Zig Ziglar said: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

We can take great comfort in that statement. It says that on good days and not so good, when we’ve said and done all that we can (however flawed) to make a positive difference, we can do nothing that’s more impactful than to just sincerely care.

CONNECTOR TIP: No matter what we have to offer, sincerity positively impacts others most.

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