Why everyone in sales should read How To Make Friends And Influence People

Do you read business or self-help books? Sure, there are good ones and bad ones. Plus, I wrote in an article nearly two years ago that unless you take action after reading, business books are a waste of time!

Why am I telling you this? In May 2019, I was privileged to be featured on Jeremey Donavan’s podcast, Hey Salespeople. Jeremey is SalesLoft’s VP of Sales Strategy and self-proclaimed sales nerd, so as you can imagine, we had a great time chewing the fat. His first question to me was about my favourite business book. What is it and what impact did have on me? Here’s what I said.

‘I’ve been reading sales and leadership books since the age of 15 or 16. The book that really stands out is How To Make Friends And Influence People [by Dale Carnegie]. The reason is because it’s really well structured and it clearly lays out how you should approach influencing and persuading people.’

‘The key thing that stands out is around genuinely having an interest in somebody, seeking to understand their needs and caring about what they say. You have to be a good listener. When you start in sales, you think it’s about talking. This was the first time I was able to read about the importance of listening as a sales skill.’

Making people like you

The things I pointed out there are all from the centrepiece of Dale Carnegie’s book. It’s where he lays out Six Ways To Make People Like You.

● Be genuinely interested in other people.

● Smile.

● Remember that a person’s name is the loveliest and most important sound to them.

● Be a good listener. Encourage people to talk about themselves.

● Talk about things that appeal to the other person’s interests.

● Make the person you are talking to feel important — genuinely.

Hopefully, you have the kind of curiosity mindset that this kind of thing comes naturally to you. The best salespeople do. However, it is something you can practise.

Real world examples

The proof of these ideas is all around you in the world of sales. I see it all the time. As I climbed the ladder in my sales career, as well as meeting sales leaders in my role as Founder of Sales Confidence, it’s clear. The most influential people are the ones who aren’t just talking. The top people in the room are the ones who are just listening.

I had the opportunity to work for Simon O’Kane when I was at Huddle. To give you an idea about his calibre, Simon was Marc Benioff’s first hire outside of the US when he brought Salesforce to London.

When I was in meetings with Simon, it was always noticeable how little he said. He would listen and reflect, but rarely speak. When he did speak, he would always deliver something impactful, totally in tune with the person he was talking to. It was like he never wasted a word! He had developed the skills around influencing and persuading people that Dale Carnegie identifies in How To Make Friends.

Start listening early

For me, reading How To Make Friends before I started my sales career gave me a head start. However, you still have to go against your natural instincts, especially when you’re first starting out.

When you make your first calls in your first sales job, you tend to spend a long time chasing people, trying to get through to them. You become very close friends with the voicemail and the engaged tone. So, when you finally get through to someone, you’re so pleased. Unfortunately, that’s when you decide to blurt out your entire sales script, without pausing, without asking questions. You don’t make the sale.

Well, that’s what I did anyway!

Until I remembered How To Make Friends. Listen. Seek to understand. Appeal to their interests, or needs.

Read How To Make Friends today

If you haven’t read How To Make Friends And Influence People yet, I would urge you to remedy that situation now. Wherever you are in your sales career, you’ll find value in what Dale Carnegie says. For me, the most amazing thing is that this book came out in 1936, over 80 years ago, but it’s still just as relevant today as it ever was. It just goes to show that sales is about human connection, even in the tech age.

Here’s another link to the full podcast. Give it a listen!

What do you think? What did you get from How To Make Friends And Influence People? What other business books would you recommend to the Sales Confidence community? Let us know in the comments below.

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