I Command Thee

Soon, as is the case every spring, we’ll be treated to a re-airing of the 1956 movie classic, “The Ten Commandments.” I got to thinking: If there exists a set of 10 commandments for the game of life, does the same hold true for the game of selling? I say yes.

Commandment I: Thou Shalt Prepare
Some salespeople like to wing it. Not so fast. There is nothing more insulting to a prospect than demonstrating that you’re clueless about them or their company. Don’t just jump on that phone call or make a visit—know before you go.
 
Commandment II: Thou Shalt Serve
In the grand scheme of things, selling is ultimately about helping others. Your product or service is going to solve some sort of problem or improve upon some sort of situation. By helping others, we help ourselves.
 
Commandment III: Thou Shalt Sincerely Seek to Understand
“No one cares about how much you know, until they know how much you care.” And so how do we demonstrate that we care? We ask thought-provoking questions with a degree of sincerity that is palpable. And then we shut up and abide by the next commandment.
 
Commandment IV: Thou Shalt Listen With Empathy
I’ve heard it said that bad salespeople are like alligators. They have long snouts that allow them to talk and talk and talk. And they have virtually no ears, so they are incapable of listening. Don’t be an alligator. Ask, and then listen. 
 
Commandment V: Thou Shalt Remember WDTMTM?
Ever heard the phrase, “You’re telling, but not selling?” Prospects don’t want to be told anything. Keep your opinions and preconceived notions to yourself. No one cares. In the end, prospects want to know one thing: What Does This Mean To Me? Selling is about relating your product to your prospect within the context of their world. Make it about them.
 

Commandment VI: Thou Shalt Sell Value to the Customer
It’s not always about a product’s price. That’s the value of the product. But what’s its value to your customer? Refer to Commandment V above. If you’ve done a good job of asking questions and listening empathically, then you can emphasize the value of your offering to the customer as the product to solve their problem(s) or address their issue(s).
 
Commandment VII: Thou Shalt Work Hard
I know all the clichés about “working smart.” I agree. We need to “plan our work and work our plan.” However, that does not absolve us of our responsibility to do so with the most aggressive work ethic possible.

See Also: Sam I Am
 
Commandment VIII: Thou Shalt Never Be Satisfied
There’s always another mountain to climb. There’s always another goal to conquer. There’s always something we can do to become better. Go and take that risk. Make your mistakes. Learn. In doing so you’ll get better and better and better.
 
Commandment IX: Thou Shalt Be Urgently Enthusiastic
I’m always amazed by how some of us don’t act with a sense of urgency when it comes to serving or selling to our customers. Sales superstars are passionate. They employ the desire, determination and discipline necessary to succeed.
 
Commandment X: Thou Shalt Be Accountable
Bob Marley said: “Before you start pointing fingers…make sure your hands are clean.”  Here’s the deal: You are president of “You Inc.” You can blame your failures or hardships on just about anything. In the final analysis, it’s about you.

So there they are: my take on the 10 commandments of selling. I’m no Moses, but consider me a friend with prophetic advice. I wish thee good selling!

Since 1995, Dan Cole has served as vice president of business development for the International CES and the organization that produces it, the Consumer Electronics Association. He has won numerous awards including IAEE’s most outstanding sales and marketing executive and the International Business Awards’ most outstanding sales executive.