How to increase sales

For most of us, the greatest influence on our lives, our values, and our thinking has been our parents. Parents are the most influential in building or diminishing our self-esteem, parents are the providers of our genetic inheritance and parents usually provide the belief structure we start with.

However, one piece of frequent advice from parents has become a limiter for our interaction with other people. It has become an inhibitor of our ability to influence others and therefore a reduction in our ability to sell effectively.

This parental advice is to “treat other people as you would like to be treated”.

We cannot fault our parents’ intention, they are seeking to make us better members of the community, they are encouraging us to think of others, but have unwittingly pushed us into a corridor of inability. If you seek to influence or persuade others, if you seek to sell to others, following this advice gives you a disadvantage when compared to those who not only ignore this advice but do the complete opposite.

The fundamental assumption is that the way you like to be treated is the way they like to be treated. The notion is that the things, the approaches, the behaviours which influence you positively are the ones you should use to influence others positively. Ultimately it states that their ‘normal’ must be the same as your ‘normal’. Unfortunately, life is much more complicated than that – my ‘normal’ is different to your ‘normal’ and both are different to the ‘normal’ of the next person.

To increase sales or a to develop a stronger ability to influence others, the advice should be  – to adapt your behavioural approach so that you speak into their ‘normal’ not your own. For example, some people like to be congratulated publicly and loudly for a success which they have achieved; others would recoil in horror at such an approach and would prefer a quiet, individual word of recognition. Some like a working environment with a ‘buzz’, others desire silence and solitude.

To rephrase a well known old adage: “In order to sell something to someone, first walk a mile in their shoes”

Many sales professionals are able to empathise and ‘walk in the shoes’ of their customers with ease, but for all of us, there will inevitably be some potential customers with whom we find it more difficult to do that – usually the ones who are very different to us. There are over 200 behavioural evaluations available on the global market, such as MBTI, DISC, LIFO, OPQ etc. $4bn is spent annually on completing these evaluations worldwide. They are broadly similar all being based on Carl Jung’s development of the work of Ancient Greek geniuses such as Aristotle, Hippocrates, Galen, and Plato. The better evaluations tend to have all 3 of:

  • Self-analysis (understanding self is the first step to understanding others)
  • 360-degree feedback
  • Another person analysis

Case study:

One of our team was running a training course in Munich for European senior sales Directors of a large global healthcare company. For one of the National Directors, the decision makers regarding purchases of medical equipment were the practicing surgeons (which surely it should be in any sensible health system!). The Sales Director had visited one surgeon 5 times to talk about a new innovation in respiratory care but not achieved a sale. 5 visits, no sale!

The consultant and the Sales Director sat in the bar in the evening and completed an ‘Another person’ evaluation based on the imperfect and incomplete knowledge the Sales Director had about the surgeon from his 5 visits. The knowledge was incomplete, but it was enough. The profile emerged with the probability that this surgeon’s key attitudinal drivers were in the ‘blue’ section of the report. The consultant and the sales director went through these 8 drivers, probing, asking and answering questions until they decided that his strongest driver was ‘Safety’ – most important to his surgeon was stopping bad things happening.

“What bad things does your new product prevent?” asked the consultant, and the Sales Director unpacked an impressive list. So the advice – next time you visit this surgeon,  and to help to increase sales, don’t talk about what the product does, don’t mention price, don’t mention how innovative it is … just tell him what problems it prevents.

Within a week the consultant received an e-mail telling him that the surgeon had placed a 100,000 Euro order and if the product lived up to expectation there would be 500,000 euros of orders over the next 2 years.

The Sales Director, a very successful, able and professional person, had initially been using the persuasion emphases which would have persuaded HIM, not the customer – treating the customer as he, the Sales Director, would like to be treated. By switching the emphasis to the customer’s mindset, his ‘normal’, how HE would want to be treated, the conversation was much more effective.

So, the top tip to increase sales for 2017 …… Treat other people as THEY want to be treated, speak into what is normal for them – not your normal; improve your ability to adapt your behaviour interaction. Speak directly, straight to the point, short sharp sentences for those who use high ‘red’ behaviours; speak about innovation, creativity, originality and flexibility to those who exhibit high ‘yellow’ behaviours; blue will want conservatism and detail; green will want quality and collaboration.

Whether you are selling a product or service or whether your ‘selling’ is just influencing your boss’s perception of you, our challenge, to increase sales,  is to focus less on OUR selling techniques and focus more on THEIR behavioural preferences – best wishes for your 2017 sales!




Stephen Jarrett is an HR and Management Consultant with over 30 years’ experience in all sectors and across the world, advising, building and delivering HR solutions, Strategy, Training, Coaching, Counselling, Mediation and Facilitation. He is also a European Master Trainer in Psychometrics, qualified in several widely used models.