The underappreciated value of being stupid, lazy and lucky? At first and second glance that makes no sense. But hear me out. By way of background, I got my start in 1976 as a 21-year-old IBM sales person in training fresh out of the University of Minnesota. After 15 years in direct sales and sales management with IBM I opened my own point of sale company named LPA Retail Systems.
After 43 years of selling a boat load of hardware, software and services I have made being stupid, lazy and lucky the foundation of my lucrative and rewarding career.
Let’s start with stupid. When meeting with a business, I want to establish myself as a professional but I guard against presenting myself as the guy who is trying to be the smartest person in the room. The success of my customer meetings is mostly dependent on my ability to ask open ended and relevant questions.
During the course of the meeting I will hear a word or an acronym that I don’t understand. There is the temptation to fake an understanding, but eventually they will call you out and you will look like a lying moron. In a respectful manner, you might ask, “Excuse me, you just used a phrase that I am not sure I understand. Would you be so kind to explain what you mean?”
Most often the customer will appreciate your honesty and will think more highly of you. I assure you; I have tried the “pretend I know what they are talking about” approach and the results are too embarrassing to repeat.
Lazy can work for you too. I work a lot of hours each week, never get sick and take short vacations. You would think that with the number of hours that I work that I have a tremendous work ethic. The truth be told that I am a bit lazy but I make it work for me.
I have met a lot of sales people far brighter than I who never reap the rewards for their efforts because they try to do everything a customer asks. While serving your customers is a part of sales, you are not their employee or assistant. You are a business professional attempting to convince them to buy your products and services that you believe will help their businesses.
If a customer presents me with a list of questions to be answered or tasks to be done, I will ask two questions. One: If I do these things will you buy? Two, What are your top three priorities on this list? If we resolve these three key issues will you buy?
Don’t let your customers off the hook. Make them work and invest in the solution. I will often times ask them to drive long distances to see me. It makes them more invested in my solution and they will be more likely to buy from me.
The best way I know to sell more and work less is to ask the customer to buy. There is no better way to know where you stand than to ask for the order. Asking for the order can be fun and creative. Most business owners will respect you more if you simply ask her or him to buy.
Being lucky is the ability to convince one human being out of 7.5 billion that he or she is lucky. I have lost track of the times that I have seen intelligent and skilled sales professionals minimize their success by feeling that they were unlucky. Attributing a sales loss to bad luck gives you an excuse and excuses are the recipe for failure.
If you feel you are lucky, you are lucky. If you feel that you are unlucky, you are unlucky. Both are self-fulfilling prophecies.
I too will have days that I am in a down mood. It happens to everyone. But my bad mood affects each of my amazing employees and the customers I serve and sell. I sell best and manage best when I smile naturally and am feeling lucky.
What works for me, is to count my blessings. I work with incredible people, my customers are a lot of fun, I have a loving family, I live in the USA and on and on. I am sure you have another list that resonates with you. Think of all those great things in your life. It helps to compare your life to a different country at a time in history 100 years in the past.
So there you have it. Now you know why I believe that being stupid, lazy and lucky works for me and can work for you.
Good luck selling and don’t forget to smile.