I've sold a few different goods and services in my young career: electronic health records and dreams; I've never sold anything "traditional," such as a cars, homes, devices, computers, etc. I can't speak to what it takes to sell these kinds of commoditized goods, but for the kinds of abstract goods I've been selling, I've discovered the most powerful sales tool of all time: the human smile.
The human smile is infectious. It makes people happy. It makes the salesman approachable. And it's so incredibly simple and effective.
Everyone has seen charismatic salesmen on infomercials. I've been intrigued by their ability to keep people engaged and excited. Smiling is the foundation for the entire sales package. The smile turns business-focused, money-hungry salesmen into fun and exciting people with something interesting to say.
Too many salesmen are focused on making money. That's a classic sales/marketing mistake. Sales and marketing aren't about money, they're about the customer's perception of the good/service being sold. That's the only thing that matters. When salesmen forget that, they tend to focus on making money, which means they're focused on themselves, not the customer.
Smiling lends itself to being friendly, approachable, and believable. It lends itself to being human. People buy from and invest in people that they like. But they have to be real, down-to-earth people; they can't be phony. The smile can't be forced; it has to be genuine.
I've identified 3 forms of smiles. The most obvious is the fake, forced smile. When a salesman is desperate, this smile tends to rear its ugly head. It looks an awful lot like this. You can tell that I'm uncomfortable, and not living in the moment. I'm not going to earn a penny.
The second and third types of smiles are more difficult to distinguish. Salesmen, because of the nature of their jobs, sincerely enjoy talking with other people. The act of selling makes them happy. I call this smile the "living-in-the-moment-smile." The living-in-the-moment-smile looks something like this (picture from fraternity semi-formal):
The third smile is one of pristine passion. You only see this smile when people are doing something that they believe in with every fiber of their existence. Salesmen entrepreneurs tend to sport this smile. It looks something like this:
99% of life just isn't that exciting. When people find someone whose amped up on life, who believes in what they do with unfiltered, uncontrollable energy and passion, they want to believe too. They want to be in the other guy's reality, because from the outside, it looks so much better than their own.
The power of the human smile is bounded only by your imagination. So dream big and smile.