As you’ve heard me say before, selling is about much more than the “pitch.” It is a process, not a single action. Though most of us will never become salespeople, all of us would do well to learn as much as we can from the experts who sell for a living.
Today, instead of telling you how to think like a salesperson, I will give you three reasons why it is worth your time to learn as much as you can about selling. I will give you the “why” and leave it to the experts to show you the “how.” (To skip to the specific titles I recommend, click here.)
How to Build Confidence
Few things are less comfortable than dialing a stranger on the phone and striking up a conversation. Nonetheless, master salespeople do it every day. As church musicians, we would do well to follow their lead. When we abandon our comfort zone and reach out to strangers, we build resilience. I can tell you from experience that almost any conversation seems easy when you’ve just cold-called a dozen strangers.
Many people feel that they lack the confidence to talk to people, but I think they’ve gotten it backwards. It’s only by talking to people that you gain the confidence you need. Salespeople know this better than anyone.
How to Talk to People
If you’ve been following my writing, you probably know one of the ideas I believe in the most. It’s the idea that most of us need to talk less and listen more. It might surprise you that this is one of the greatest lessons a master salesperson can teach you. Master salespeople are quick to get people talking about their own needs and wants.
In the words of venerable sales expert Zig Ziglar, “you don’t persuade by telling, you persuade by asking.” Successful conversation is about asking the right questions. With a little guidance from the experts, plus a little practice in the real world, you can learn which kinds of questions motivate people to keep talking. Questions are the building blocks of trust, which leads to new relationships.
How to Recruit
Effective conversation is about asking questions. By asking the right questions, you’ll learn how prospective volunteers view their relationship with their church. You’ll also learn the vocabulary they use and how they view their problems. The better the questions you ask, and the better you listen to the answers, the more effectively you can persuade people to join your group. You’ll learn how to build trust and form new relationships.
In other words, learning to sell can change your life as a church musician!
I have read each of the following books and highly recommend each of them. (These are not affiliate links.) My hope is that you will learn how salespeople think, not necessarily how to copy their exact methodology.
- To Sell Is Human by Daniel Pink explains how humans are hard-wired to persuade others, and why selling is a completely honorable activity. I recommend it for anyone in the business of persuading others (which is almost everyone).
- All Marketers Are Liars by Seth Godin teaches about the principles of modern marketing and how to be persuasive in a world with far too many products, services, and sales messages.
- Fanatical Prospecting by Jeb Blount takes a deep dive into the specific techniques of selling through a variety of channels. While he believes firmly in the power of the telephone, he also devotes entire chapters to social selling, texting, and other modern media.
- Selling 101 by Zig Ziglar is a one-sitting primer on the basic ideas of persuasive, authentic selling. A true classic.
- Break Into the Scene by Seth Hanes is written for freelance musicians looking to land more gigs. I recommend it for anyone looking for advice on e-mail prospecting.
Now, go forth and learn!
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