When I was just starting out, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life and career. The only thing I was absolutely sure about was that I did not want to get into sales. Of course, my only understanding of sales at that point had come from my vast experience moving pens and candy door-to-door as a kid to raise money for my Junior Olympic cross-country team. Later, I relived that experience one miserable college summer, trying to sell replacement windows – also door-to-door.

My boss at that time, a guy named McClatchey, who couldn’t have been more than 22 himself, believed most customers were utterly stupid and needed to be treated that way. To my recollection, he never sold a single window to anyone. Ever.

When I grew into a marketing career in the New York digital agencies, then later opened my own business, my relationship with sales became less confrontational, more necessary. I studied like crazy and asked Kirk and Harley, the best sales guys I know, for advice.

Today, I’d trade all that time and energy spent trying to understand the psychological puzzle of sales for one book.

I’ve known Brett Keirstead since we were about five years old. His new book WE ARE ALL SALES, PEOPLE, is based on the idea that almost every interface we have with people every day is some version of a sales interaction. And the way we choose to communicate can impact our success in all of them.

It’s a treasure trove of insight that looks first at the sales process he’s used himself and taught to his teams and students. He brings it all together by explaining how that same process can help in regular, daily interactions, from small talk to bullying, from understanding rejection to dealing with adversity.

Brett says all successful sales interactions – and by his examination – all successful human interactions, can be organized into five steps.

1. Recognize Who You Are
The first key point is to recognize that beyond the product or service you’re selling, the way you present (or sell) yourself has tremendous impact on your audience. As Brett says “in that regard, you are your own product.” And as a result, you need to have a clear and honest understanding of how all of those things impact the person you’re selling to.

This includes everything from physical appearance to an honest assessment of your talents and skills, and even how your own personal preferences for things can impact your interaction with others.

Something as seemingly irrelevant as conversational style could put that at risk, for example. The loud and fast-talking style of a New Yorker might turn off a typical Central Floridian. A clear understanding of self makes it much simpler to communicate clearly and positively.

2. Sincerely Understand Others
When done well, this second step is a sort of flip side to step one. Because a sale is all about creating an exchange designed to produce a positive outcome, it is important to understand the person or people you’re dealing with.

The key word here is “sincere.” Ask questions. Get to understand their personal preferences. Avoid quick judgements we all make from time to time, because those are usually more about us than them, anyway.

3. Identify Desired Outcomes
This is about understanding what each side wants. Sometimes, these things align directly. Other times, they seem completely unrelated.

You may want to close the sale. Your customer just wants to solve a problem. As a result, you need to communicate that you sincerely understand how that problem makes your customer feel and that you are offering a solution to their problem.

We all crave human connections that help us develop trust and understanding in each other – and that’s mostly what drives positive outcomes.

4. Negotiate
When most people hear the word “negotiate,” they often think about money. The truth is, negotiation covers a wide range of objections. “It costs too much,” is only one.

This is where the work done in the first steps becomes very powerful. The questions you’ve asked and the answers you’ve honestly listened to inform your understanding of what’s important to your client and enable you to create a scenario they can understand as a solution to their problem.

5. Close the Deal
The biblical expression is “ask and ye shall receive.” Asking for something in plain, simple terms you know are reasonable is what closing the deal is all about.

For me, this has always been the hardest part. What stops us from asking? Fear of rejection. Remember, while it is true that you don’t always get what you ask for, it is equally true that if you never ask, you’ll never receive. Brett goes into much more detail in each of these and explores real-life situations in-depth. It’s all great advice in a simple, ultra-clear package that I’ve find myself using every day.

About the Author:

Brett Keirstead is a thirty-year sales professional and mentor who has turned around underperforming sales teams, coached rising managers and executives to success and worked alongside other C-suite executives to massive success. He wrote WE ARE ALL SALES, PEOPLE (available on amazon.com) because he saw an opportunity to use his knowledge of sales communication to teach communication skills in simple terms people can relate to. wereallsalespeople.com/about

Lyle Smith
Principal, Founder and Chief Writer at | lyle@nymblesmith.com | Website

Lyle Smith is the principal, founder and chief writer for Nymblesmith, a content marketing agency dedicated to brand and business storytelling, and story-focused content strategy. Nymblesmith has delivered highly profitable content and content strategies for some of the most recognizable business brands in America.