Sales is a game played on an emotional battlefield, and if your mental state is weak, then your prospects are going to sense this and walk all over you.
Early in my sales career I remember reading an excellent book by Tom Hopkins, “How To Master The Art Of Selling.”
One of the most important concepts in that book was that in order to sell, you have to be in the mood to sell.
While you’ll occasionally hear the odd story of a veteran who blew a customer off out of frustration only to have that customer come back and buy something, these are the exceptions that prove the rule.
Selling successfully requires a certain mindset that I like to call KILLER INSTINCT.
What is KILLER INSTINCT?
I’ve talked about this in another article, but KILLER INSTINCT just refers to the unstoppable determination that’s oftentimes necessary to continue working towards your goal of making a sale EVEN IF the path to get there is anything but smooth.
In other words, killer instinct is the attitude of doing whatever it takes to get the job done.
You might think that KILLER INSTINCT is an aggressive description of this attitude. After all, why couldn’t I have just called it something more neutral, like “determination?”
Wild cats like lions and cheetahs don’t have determination when stalking their prey. They have killer instinct.
Wild cats look their best when they’re hungry. So do you.
One extremely important attribute of a KILLER INSTINCT is to be completely fearless.
My first year of selling, I was terrified of stopping couples and groups that had men in them.
Working in mall kiosks means you mainly sell to women. After all, most shoppers at most shopping malls are women. Most STORES are for women.
But frequently I’d see the prospect of the century walking by, accompanied with her scary looking Mexican gangster boyfriend and my nuts would shrivel up into my abdomen.
I’d let them just walk on by without saying a single word.
I must have let literally HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of dollars walk by me.
(Such a waste. I could definitely use that money right now.)
My fear was completely unfounded. I mean, I knew WHY I was scared – even the non-scary looking guys were intimidating.
- Would they think I was hitting on their girl?
- How could I employ my flirtatious sales strategies to make the sale with them standing right there?
- Would they ruin the sale because they were jealous of my instant connection with their wife or girlfriend?
- Would they judge me extra harshly as men, after seeing me fail an approach and getting shot down?
These unfounded worries, while plausible, caused me to commit the gravest error in not just sales, but life in general:
- I was too scared to do what I knew was right.
- I was too scared to do what I knew I should be doing.
How I developed KILLER INSTINCT to shatter my sales records
Things changed for me when I took a different approach. After enough years in the game, I was VERY full of myself.
You’re unlikely to find anyone cockier than a kiosk salesman who knows he can generate $20,000 in revenue a month from people who know nothing about him, his company, his product, AND overcome the negative stigma associated with “those kiosk people.”
One day, I just said Screw it, I’m stopping couples.
In my mind, I thought you always ran the risk of having the boyfriend/husband freak out and get all territorial on you for addressing his woman.
This isn’t just something that I thought, this is something that everyone thinks.
When you approach a couple, all eyes in the mall are on you. Approaching a couple is an inherently aggressive act.
And an aggressive act towards a single woman or a group of women doesn’t really carry much of an immediate risk, at least from a primal standpoint.
But all it takes is one equally aggressive male and things can get ugly very quickly.
It was this “all eyes on me” concept that I was most afraid of when approaching couples.
Instead of being afraid of attracting attention, one day I decided to embrace my fear and go out of my way to make sure that EVERYONE noticed me.
Instead of trying to sneak my approaches in without anyone noticing, I decided to be overly obvious and draw extra attention to myself.
In Hebrew we used to use a phrase to describe killer instinct. We would say, lehitabed alehem.
Translated, this literally means, “to kill yourself on them.”
In Israel, the term “kill yourself” or “commit suicide” was synonymous with terrorists strapping a suicide vest to themselves and blowing themselves up in a crowded market or on a bus.
I found this phrase IMMENSELY helpful in my sales career.
This will sound super strange and some of you might be tempted to report me to the FBI, but I would actually imagine myself with a suicide vest strapped to chest as I approached a prospect.
I wasn’t scared. It was exhilarating.
How to use KILLER INSTINCT to level up in your sales career
Killer instinct requires you to intentionally draw attention towards yourself.
You can be conscious of the people around you, watching you, maybe even judging you. But you have to ignore them at the same time.
You’re not here for them – yet.
You’re here for your prospect.
And when you have killer instinct, you don’t let anything get in the way of you pushing the interaction closer and closer towards getting what you want.
Don’t run away from the attention. What are you, embarrassed to be a salesman? You’re scared that people will judge you for doing your job?
You can’t be like that if you want to be one of the Top Dogs.
A lot of sales trainers will say you need to believe in your product, believe in yourself, believe that what you’re doing is ultimately the right thing for both yourself and your customer.
And don’t get me wrong – I’m not telling anyone to be unethical. That’s a choice you have to make on a prospect by prospect basis.
But you need to remember that in order to sell as much as you can, you need to be in the MOOD to sell.
And what do we call that MOOD?
That’s right: KILLER INSTINCT.
Using KILLER INSTINCT is an overpowered ability in sales
A lot of salespeople take pride in their work. Especially if they’re any good.
Some of them even take pride in “bowling over” a prospect by running their mouths until they give in and say, “okay, I’ll take it.”
I know, because I was one of them.
But in my opinion, that is a very intermediate-level strategy for sales.
Don’t get me wrong: you need to be persistent.
After all, if you believe in your product or service, then you’re not going to give up until the prospect says yes.
If someone was dying of thirst in the desert and they said no when you offered them a glass of water, wouldn’t you insist?
That said, my preferred strategy of selling is to be so OVERPOWERING in my initial approach and demonstration that the customer is veritably blown off their feet when it comes time to close.
I don’t mean overpowering in the sense that I am badgering, begging, and desperately trying to convince them to give me a minute of their time.
Overpowering is all about having that KILLER INSTINCT.
- When you know that NOTHING is going to stop you from approaching that prospect, you approach.
- When you know that NOTHING is going to stop you from proceeding with your demonstration, you commit to WOWING them from the first sentence.
- When you know that NOTHING is going to stop them from not liking you, you make them laugh as soon and as often as possible.
- When you know that NOTHING is going to stop them from saying yes, you stride confidently through your demonstration, unafraid of making any mistakes.
That’s because when sell with KILLER INSTINCT, you can smell blood from a mile away.
You’re not some paper-pushing office drone with their pathetic monthly salary, counting the minutes until you get to go home.
You’re a salesman, baby.
You live for the hunt.
You love the sight of blood, the taste of it, the way it splatters on your hands and stains your clothes after a fresh kill.
(Of course, we’re not actually killing our prospects here. At least I hope you’re not.)
But when you are in a conversation where a sale is taking place, you need to keep your eye on the desired outcome, which is the prospect becoming a willing buyer of your product or service.
And as I mentioned earlier, my favorite method of doing this is to impress them so enthusiastically on my initial demonstration that they feel obligated to buy – even if they don’t want what I’m selling!
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the following comments right after swiping a customer’s credit card:
- “I don’t even know why I’m buying this – I don’t even need one!”
- “I can’t believe you got me to do that. I NEVER buy from salespeople.”
- “Wow. How many of these have you sold today?”
- “Whoever trained you did an amazing job.”
- “You are THE BEST SALESMAN I’ve ever seen.”
That last one is my absolute favorite. Any time a customer tells me that, I feel like I have truly achieved mastery over my craft.
It doesn’t happen every single time, but when it does, it’s the result of me being in the zone.
And you know what you need in order to get in the zone?
That’s right: KILLER INSTINCT.
KILLER INSTINCT isn’t being a pushy salesman – it’s being a strict father
Most teenagers are a handful.
After being a compliant child for their entire lives, they’re suddenly thrust into a world where their parents and teachers aren’t the ONLY powerful authorities anymore.
Now there’s older and cooler kids, ones who rebel and look hot while doing it.
So as teenagers, we naturally emulate people who we look up to. Because of our relative lack of life experience at this time, this usually isn’t the best idea.
If you remember when YOU were a teenager, you probably went through this same experience.
And if you were fortunate enough to have a father/mother/authority figure in your house, your rebellious behavior was probably “corrected” on a regular basis.
I don’t know about you but these confrontations were HELL for me. I HATED how my parents stifled my teenage creativity.
They didn’t UNDERSTAND me! They didn’t “get it”! I was the smart one, and they were the idiots.
Still, this didn’t stop them from letting their Hammer Of Discipline crash down on me OVER AND OVER again until I returned to the somewhat compliant child I had been before.
- Why did I give in before my parents?
- Why didn’t I push on with what I believed, endlessly defying them until THEY gave up?
- Why didn’t I have laser-like focus on my goal like they did?
Because they KNEW in their heart of hearts what they wanted to have happen with me. They didn’t want their son to grow up to be a drug abusing criminal just because they were afraid of a little confrontation.
In other words, they were willing to have an uncomfortable conversation, shouting match, or full blown fight with someone in order to make sure that they achieved their outcome.
It was a battle of wills. And they won.
And let me tell you, I’m happy that they did!
I’m happy because if they hadn’t disciplined me as a teenager, I would have run rampant through society, doing whatever I wanted whenever I wanted and in all likelihood dying an early death without realizing my true potential as a human being.
At the time, I couldn’t stand that I didn’t have control over my life. But looking back now, I appreciate their steadfastness and willing to drop their Hammer Of Discipline on my delicate little head.
Because that’s what made me who I am today. Or at least partially.
The reason I’m making this metaphor right now is because when dealing with your prospects, you need to have the exact same attitude.
You don’t necessarily need to know in your heart of hearts that what you’re doing is best for your prospects. That’s not what I’m saying.
Did our parents TRULY know that the boundaries they set for us would make OUR lives better?
But what they DID know was that the boundaries they set for us would make THEIR LIVES BETTER!
You need to understand that when you’re talking to a prospect, YOUR outcome is the one that is important. Be ethical. Be human. But do not back out of a potential sale because you’re afraid of a little confrontation.
- Is the lion in the savannah afraid of confronting the gazelle?
- Is the house cat afraid of confronting a mouse?
- Is the spider afraid of confronting a fly?
So why should you, a Big Bad Salesman, be afraid of a puny little prospect?
Let’s face it people: successful salespeople may not be inherently smarter, better looking, or more gifted physically. But objectively speaking we are HIGHER QUALITY PEOPLE than your average person.
- Your average person is so afraid of human contact that they’re unwilling to ask for extra ketchup at the drive thru window.
- Your average person is so socially awkward that they need a full script prepared in front of them to order a pizza on the telephone.
- Your average person is so terrified of rejection that they shudder at the thought of being casually brushed off by a prospect before they’ve even begun their pitch.
Pretty pathetic, isn’t it?
But as salespeople, we don’t have that luxury.
Sure, some of us may have graduated with college degrees, have a slew of technical skills, or connections in other industries – but sales is a calling more than anything else.
We live for the hunt. We love the safe arena given to us by capitalism to satisfy our bloodlust.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying that prospects are our children that we should lovingly guide through life with an iron hand.
But when you decide on a specific outcome that you want to achieve, you MUST adopt the mentality of a strict father in order to achieve it.