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6 Lessons Learned from Dale Carnegie On the Secret to Sales Success

A lot can be learned from Dale Carnegie’s prominent best-seller “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” While it’ll undoubtedly help you make friends, many of the human relations tactics discussed in the book can also easily apply to the world of business and sales.

If your leads or sales numbers are lagging, it never hurts to try new tactics. In the words of Carnegie himself, “If you are satisfied with the results you are now getting, why change? If you are not, why not experiment?”

1. “Arouse in the person an eager want.”

Most people are much more interested in what they want than what you want. Thus, catering to this can be an effective sales tactic. Dale claims that the only way to influence others is to talk about what they want; or, put another way, how a certain product or service will benefit them and their interests specifically, not yours.

If you can convince a prospect that it’s in their best interest to make a certain purchase (with concrete examples to back it up), you’re on the path to more successful sales.

2. “A person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”

This may seem simple and almost unnecessary to discuss. However, think back to a time when someone forgot your name, mispronounced it, or spelled it wrong— how easy was it remember this instance? All too easy. It’s likely that you’ve pegged the perpetrator as “that person who couldn’t even remember my name,” and that’s how they’ll be forever remembered in your mind.

Carnegie claims, “Remembering a name is a subtle, yet effective, compliment.” He adds that forgetting or misspelling it puts you at a strong disadvantage— especially if your goal is to sell this person something. You want to be remembered for your ability to make great relationships, not for your knack of forgetting people’s names.

3. “Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely.”

Carnegie explains that all anyone really wants in life is to feel important and appreciated in some aspect. Thus, if you go out of your way to make someone feel important, they’ll remember you— and love you for it.

This must be done in a sincere, authentic way, or else it’s ineffective. So, next time you’re meeting with a prospect, try to find something about them that you can honestly admire (whether it’s their new haircut, their witty sense of humor, or their latest business achievement), and do so. Human warmth and genuine appreciation go a long way.

4. “If you’re wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.”

Everyone makes mistakes, especially in sales. You misquote a price, or you botch a certain product description to a potential lead. Whatever the blunder, the best way to recover from it is not to try and defend yourself, but to admit the mistake— before the prospect even has a chance to call you out on it. This brings out a more generous and forgiving side of a person, versus giving them the desire to prove how you were wrong.

5. “Start with questions to which the other person will answer yes.”

Once a prospect has said “no” to your offer once, it’s hard to turn the ship around. After one “no,” they feel inclined to stick to their negative answer because changing their minds would be a conflict of pride. A “no” implies that this person has already withdrawn from the situation, and their guard is up.

So, if you can keep a potential lead naturally saying “yes” and agreeing with you from the start, you’re on the path to keeping the momentum in an affirmative direction.

6. “Let the other person feel the idea is his or hers.”

When selling something, it’s much more effective to make subtle suggestions towards the desired end goal versus shoving a product or service down a prospect’s throat. This allows the customer to eventually come to the conclusion themselves, which is much more powerful.

Nobody likes to feel like they’re being told what to buy; rather, they want to feel that they’re buying something on their own accord and acting upon their own ideas and needs. Casually planting this idea allows them to think about it and naturally gain interest on their own, while letting them receive the credit for the idea.

Carnegie knew the power of encouraging desirable behavior through his own behavior. If you’re searching for ways to boost your struggling sales numbers, try out a few of these authentic tactics— you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the result.

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