What It Takes to be #1 in Sales

My first sales experience came while I was studying psychology at the University of Tennessee. I had to work my way through school, and I knew the best way was to work hard all summer so that I could focus on my classes the rest of the year. That meant I needed a job that would pay well for three months of hard work. That is when I found The Southwestern Company. They train college students to sell books door-to-door on straight commission. I had very little selling experience, and up until then, playing football was all that I knew. Because I have a competitive nature and a passion for learning new things, I ended up selling books door-to-door for four summers. It was an extraordinary experience. I was working more than eighty hours a week and must have knocked on some twenty-five hundred doors per summer. The training at Southwestern is unmatched. After one week of intensive training they took me, an inexperienced college football player, and turned me into a selling machine! After my first summer, I finished number one out of twenty-five hundred other first-year dealers. At the end of my second summer, I earned a commission check for $46,000—not a bad summer’s earnings for a sophomore in college. On one of the last days of that second summer, an experienced dealer shadowed me. He told me, “If you ever figure out what you are doing, you will break the company record.” That comment dumbfounded me. I was already a top producer for the company, and was essentially being told that I didn’t know what I was doing!

That was also the first time the thought entered my mind that maybe I could break Southwestern’s 154-year-old sales record. So the following year, I studied the psychology of sales: unconditional confidence, social pressure, neurolinguistic programming, and the four different buying behavior styles. I was so intrigued by all of the topics that I started to convert the principles we were being taught at the University of Tennessee and funneling them through a sales-minded filter.

My first mission was to figure out my behavior style. I took DISC, Myers-Briggs, and all the other personality profile tests I could find. They were all awesome tests that taught me a lot about myself and my personality, but something was still missing. In order to sell to other personalities, I needed to be able to make the transition from “who I was” to “how I was” selling.

Then in the spring of 2004, I attended a class in Nashville, Tennessee, at Southwestern’s headquarters, called Selling Like a Chameleon, (a class offered by Southwestern that taught the importance of adapting to different personalities to maximize sales) and my sales career was changed forever. The program not only identified different buying behavior styles, but it taught me how to adapt my selling style to best match the customer’s buying behavior style.

The next year I went out with the goal of breaking the company record. That meant more than doubling my production from the prior year. The way to reach my goal was by following the principles learned in the Selling Like a Chameleon class and the principles found in this book. My slight edge for that summer was in my initial contact, the way I approached the buyer. Unlike the previous summers, during my third summer at Southwestern, I tailored my selling style to best match the buyer’s behavior styles. During the previous two summers my sales approach had appealed only to people who were like me, so I was connecting with only one-quarter of my prospects. My first two summers, I treated everyone I approached as if he or she were an extroverted entertainer, which is my selling behavior style. I was successful those first two summers in large part because “birds of a feather flock together.” The prospects who let me in were extroverts; and they referred me to their friends, who were extroverts; and they referred me to their friends, who were extroverts. You get the picture. However, there are only so many of one type of behavior style in a city. I frequently would run into someone of a different behavior style, and, in those instances, my standard selling M.O. (modus operandi) would not work.

When I ran into people with aggressive behavior styles and used the same words I was using with the extroverted people, they were slamming the door in my face! At first I thought it was a problem with them, but after studying the psychology of behavior styles and going through the Selling Like a Chameleon course, I came to realize it was a problem with me. After adopting the Selling Like a Chameleon approach, my production doubled! As a junior in college, I earned more than $100,000 in fourteen weeks!

In my new book, you will learn the method and application of the Navigate system, how it has affected other people’s personal production, and how it has made a huge difference in the way they communicate and ask for business. There are four basic buying behavior styles that you need to know in order to be more effective at closing the deal. This book outlines those four buying behavior styles and shows you how to identify the buying styles in you, others, and how to adapt your selling style to best fit the buying style of your customer. Being aware of the different buying behavior styles and knowing how to identify and adapt to the different kinds of decision-makers is key to getting a person to like you and trust you. Whether you are attempting to set up an appointment, close a deal, or just want someone to hear what you have to say, the Navigate system will help you communicate better and connect with people for the rest of your life!

Now go out and try to break YOUR record! We would love to hear about your successes, so please post comments below.

Dustin Hillis

Co-Founder Southwestern Consulting™

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