Mark Cuban learned the key to a successful sale when he was just 12 years old.
In a recent interview with GQ, Cuban was asked what the “key to selling well” was. His answer: “You’re not trying to convince people. You’re trying to help them.”
He learned this piece of wisdom at his very first sales job. At 12 years old, Cuban started what would be a long and successful career in business by going door to door selling garbage bags, to make enough money to buy himself sneakers.
When selling to his customers, Cuban noticed that each customer would say something that would point out how the garbage bags would make life simpler. “Sure, that makes it easier, I don’t need to carry this big box,” his customers would respond to Cuban, he told GQ.
That was when he learned that selling was about creating value for customers instead of just convincing them he had a great product.
Cuban went on to sell baseball cards and work as a salesperson at Your Business Software, a PC software retailer in Dallas, Texas. Cuban built strong connections with his customers at Your Business Software. It was with their help that he was able to create MicroSolutions, his first company, which he later sold for $6 million.
The key to becoming a great salesperson, he told GQ, is to understand what your customer could use and then meet that need. “I always tell our salespeople, ‘Put your customers in a position to succeed and you will be successful,’” Cuban said.
In order to do that, though, you need to be qualified, prepared, and able to come up with the best solution. The last thing you want is for your customers to say that you oversold or that you under delivered.
Convey to your customers that you have something valuable to offer, he said — that you understand their problems and that you can find them “a better solution.”
Many studies show the link between high empathy and better sales performance, going back almost 50 years to research conducted by psychologists David Mayer and Herbert M. Greenberg, showing that people who were more understanding tend to be more successful salespeople.
Cuban’s advice to get to know your customer and their issues, and then offer them useful solutions, is also critical if you want to grow a thriving business. As part of Amazon Insights for Entrepreneurs series back in 2018, Cuban said that the key to being a entrepreneur is putting sales first and knowing that “selling is helping.”
“The whole concept of being a great salesperson is not about who can talk the fastest, it’s about taking the time to understand the needs of the person you are selling to,” Cuban said. “You have to be able to sell and do you know who the biggest salesperson in your company has to be? You.”
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