Perhaps the biggest misconception about selling is that it’s just one single thing: persuading people to buy something.
First of all, you can’t make anyone buy anything. Secondly, if you’re playing the long game, persuasion tricks will only serve to undermine your brand in the long run.
But there’s an oft-overlooked, crucial part of the sales process that has nothing to do with persuasion at all. And that overlooked part is learning.
So here’s what I want you to start doing: channel your inner-investigative reporter when you sell.
Reporters have a job to do that’s first about collecting the facts in order to understand the objective truth, insofar as it’s possible. They identify the people most relevant to the story, ask questions, and begin evaluating the answers.
If the answers don’t add up, they don’t write the story anyway, they ask more questions. Perhaps they identify other sources to interview, and patiently work on stories for months, or even years. When they reach a “dead end” and can’t get a critical question answered, they look for alternative paths to answer it.
They check the facts rather than taking people at their word.
They’re constantly looking for angles to pursue within the story – stories within the story. They’re trying to understand the situation as objectively as possible, in an effort to create meaning and a narrative.
And after all of the information is collected, an investigative reporter writes an article that can be understood by an average reader, to maximize the impact of the story they’re telling.
There’s a lot we can learn from investigative reporters. But your job includes a second type of reporting, that’s not investigative at all. It’s the editorial part, where you give your opinion and talk about what could or should be.
To get your clients excited about fixing their problems, you have to 1) identify the depth, scope, and cause of those problems, and 2) paint a picture of what could be.
Start by being an Investigative Reporter, and finish as the Editor.