The best salespeople aren’t master manipulators. They are authentic humans devoted to creating multidimensional value in pursuit of making their clients’ dreams come true.
Sales is not about getting people to buy “stuff”, it’s about helping people accept value. The best salespeople understand this as fundamental to their success, so before I go into how to get your first SaaS customers or figure out pricing (in the coming months), I thought it best we begin the conversation here.
Strong relationships start with open and honest communication. If you’re lying to yourself about who you are, it’s hard for others to trust you — you come off as disingenuous no matter how much you believe in your product. There is a currency that is more valuable in business than any amount of money — it’s trust. This will get you pretty far. Trust over time — doing what you say and saying what you’ll do — is reputation. This will unlock the ability to close monster deals.
When I started in sales, I wasn’t dishonest on purpose, but I didn’t quite know how to be myself. I was terrible at first. I was lying every day. I was so bad in sales that I had to work twice as hard as everybody else just to hit quota — which is where I got the nickname Jason — “The Man With Two Engines” — Grad. People think I got that nickname because I was good. In fact, it was because I was terrible. Excessive amounts of inputs required for mediocre outcomes.
Back then, I was in debt from being a failed music producer. I hid my interest in music from everybody because I thought I’d be kicked out of the office for cheating on Yelp with another passion. I was so bad at sales at first that after a few months I kind of resigned and started talking with my prospects about my life and passions, like music. That was when I realized my prospects cared way more about the human connection we were forming than any product I was selling. That was also when I started seeing a lift in my outcomes.
My conversations could be pretty odd and personal with prospects — but now they were honest. Other reps would give me looks of horror and disbelief. Luckily, I had a manager who understood me and would keep reps on my team at bay from jumping over their desks to hang up my receiver out of embarrassment. Those were also often the calls that ended up earning me a trip to the gong and a fat commission check. By the end of my first year, my monthly commission checks were almost the equivalent of my entire starting salary — a 12x pay increase!
I wasn’t alone, it seemed like all the top reps in the office were a bit extreme in their own ways and committed to being themselves. Some call this being “weird”, but I’ve learned that top salespeople usually are comfortable with their own quirks.
Top reps are helpful no matter what, even if it doesn’t have to do with their specific product. This can be as simple as adding humor to their day. One of the top reps I know is hilarious. He can quote almost any movie at exactly the right time. It’s a true joy to work with him so of course people don’t mind spending. It’s worth it just for the entertainment alone.
Another one of the best reps I have ever had as a mentor had an incredible ability to listen to prospects’ problems, understand their desires and fears, and empower them to be better versions of themselves. That’s way more valuable than widget x!
There are times when I’ve originally reached out to prospects about a specific product, but learned that they needed to raise money. So I connected them to investors. It’s easier to spend money with cash in the bank. Other times when I found out a prospect was at capacity and desperately needed to hire, so I connected them with potential employees. It’s easier to justify marketing expenditure when you’ve got additional staff to support sales.
I want to provide so much value to the people around me that they work with me no matter what I’m selling. There should be so much upside in our relationship over the course of our careers that spending money with me on the current widget I’m offering is thought of as an investment. It’s the cost of doing business — and it’s worth it every time. I care so much about my clients that when I win, I will do everything in my power to make sure they win too, for the rest of our lives.
You are worth more than the product you are currently selling and so are your relationships — including those with your prospects. Know this and own it. The best salespeople I see are obsessed with creating outsized value. A rising tide lifts all ships, and when reps are open, honest, and authentically themselves, it’s easy for prospects to believe their ship will be one of them. That’s multidimensional value.
How are you going to change your prospects’ lives today?
Originally posted to Medium.