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The Art of
the Deal

The Art of
the Deal


We're all in sales, whether we want a job, a raise, or a date.

Want a raise? You're in sales! Seeking a promotion or that cool new job? You're in sales! Single? Well, then you're definitely in sales.

The bottom line is that we're all in sales, regardless of what we actually do for a living. Someone has to "buy into" the idea of giving you that raise, promotion, or whatever it is you're seeking.

There are moments when you have to sell yourself in order to accomplish a goal or move forward in life. For some, that's a scary prospect. For others, it's a no-brainer. But no matter how you approach it, you need to understand that selling begins with establishing trust, safety, and comfort with your "customer." To do this, you have to create a relationship, and that boils down to three important things: intimacy, generosity, and accountability.

My company works with sales forces worldwide to teach them how to establish "instant intimacy," which is absolutely necessary if you want to make a sale. Creating intimacy with another person is one of the most important and gratifying things we do in life. It's core to our very nature as human beings. And it all begins with a foundation of authenticity.

This can be tough for some LGBT folks, especially if they have spent part or all of their lives not being authentic, hiding from the world and themselves. But let's face it, most people can sense when you're trying to be something that you're not. You only have one chance to make a great first impression, so just be yourself.

In my book Never Eat Alone, I suggest kicking off any conversation by talking about your interests and passions--and ask the other person about his or hers too. Both of you will begin to shine when you are talking about things that matter to you. Then share your dreams and aspirations. Here's a secret: We all like to talk about our dreams. Bonding around them is a surefire way for two people to connect deeply.

Next, I encourage you to share the challenges you are facing. This is an intimidating step for some people, but a powerful one. You'd be surprised at how quickly another person will open up about his or her own struggles once you've shared yours. Often, some pretty deep fears and vulnerabilities are revealed.

Practice this first with friends at a cocktail party or in the break room at work. You can even try it on a date. If you experience resistance or feel the other person's uneasiness, back off a little and come back later. Make this a two-way dance, not a barrage.

With intimacy as a foundation, a good salesperson knows that generosity is the next most powerful element in making a deal. In our interactions with one another, we must always look for opportunities to be generous with what we have, whether it's knowledge, a helping hand, or a solution to a problem. In business we call this "solution selling" or "consultative" sales, and it starts with understanding what the other person needs and desires.

Whether building a new deck, decorating a room, or planning a party, the customer comes to the salesperson for the solution to a need. A good salesperson doesn't try merely to sell a product but wraps a "generous" and thoughtful solution around it, one that meets the customer's real needs.

Imagine you are looking into that person's eyes and thinking--or better yet, saying--"I want to make you a success." Sure, your customer is there to have some basic need met, but he or she has other needs that you might be able to help with. Ever see a less-than-attractive individual successfully pick someone up at a bar? He obviously met needs above the basic aesthetic or sexual ones.

I believe there are seven factors that define personal success: intellectual stimulation, physical well-being, financial success, professional growth, the deepening of loving relationships, the desire to give back, and the ability to grow spiritually. When we buy something, we are really looking for a solution--and that solution relates to one or more of these areas of personal success. An awareness of these drivers will help you deliver the right extras for the customer.

Finally, demonstrate accountability. There can be no mismanaged expectations and certainly no deception in genuine sales. A good salesperson will develop a solution, explain it clearly to the customer, make the case for the sale, and then stand fully behind it with integrity.

Remember, sales may sometimes be about taking risks, but at its core, sales--and life, actually--is about relationships. Build them, and the sales will come.

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

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Keith Ferrazzi