The phone line went dead. Another no.

I had just arrived in the US and the only job I could get was in sales. I was 21 years-old, sitting in a crowded office and earning minimum wage. I spent all day trying to sell to customers only to have them hang up on me. I hated it. I hated sales.

I had no idea what I was doing. I just didn’t understand sales.

I looked to those in the company that were closing deals to see what they did right. The first lesson I learned was to never sell over the phone. Calls and emails should only be used to make appointments with potential clients. Let them know you’ll be in the area, and ask if it’s OK to drop in to say hello.

Once I learned it was better to sell face to face, I improved, but I still had a poor closure rate. I read everything I could to get better. Eventually I found Brian Tracy’s The Psychology of Selling and learned that a hard sale was futile.

Sales is about being interested in the client. It was about shifting my focus from what I could push onto a customer to becoming genuinely invested in their needs.

This was a revelation that not only changed my sales, but my business and life as a whole.

Tracy wrote that a salesperson must see themselves as a doctor, and this metaphor proved illuminating.

Clients were not customers, but patients, and as their doctor it was my job to find out where their pain was. In other words, what’s not working for them? I’d ask questions to identify their issue, then repeat it back to them, ensuring that I understood it fully. As their doctor, it was my duty to prescribe, and the prescription was my product – something to alleviate their pain and make their lives better.

The doctor approach is simple: ask, listen, repeat, prescribe. If your product cannot help them, you won’t be able to sell. But that’s OK. You’ve made a friend and learned something in return.

I discarded the archaic image of a pushy salesman and swapped it for the figure of a caring doctor. If you can offer a solution or a prescription to their problem, the sale will close itself. Selling is not jamming your foot in someone’s door. It’s about offering solutions that make lives better. If your product alleviates their pain, the sale will come naturally.

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