Use Your Super Selling Powers

If your sales could use a jolt, here are eight techniques to help you identify your superpower and put it to good use

Do you need some inspiration to sell a lot more—not just an increase of 10% but more like 200%? Then stop thinking like a mere mortal and start thinking like a superhero. Even though Wonder Woman and Superman don't exist in real life, that doesn't mean you can't learn a sales trick or two from them. Here are eight superhero ideas that you can apply to selling.

1. Discover your strengths. Superheroes aren't super at everything; they have specific powers, like flying through the air, lifting heavy objects, or seeing through walls. You have unique selling powers, too.

I once saw a man at an airport wearing a T-shirt that said "Super Closer." I assumed he received it at a sales meeting, and his peers probably got shirts like "Super Prospector," "Super Cold Caller," or "Super Presenter." Determine the parts of the sales process you excel at and take advantage of them.

2. Train yourself to see the big picture. Superheroes don't just see the little old lady who wants to cross the street. They see the bigger picture, like the giant alien who is about to blast her, so they go after the alien too. When you meet with clients, step back from the situation. Then look for and solve their bigger problem—and sell a bigger solution.

3. Create a team. One superhero alone can only rely on his or her own powers. However, when several join forces, they always seem to beat the bad guys. Let's say you're great at most of the steps in the sales process minus the paperwork parts. Hire an assistant who's fantastic at administration; you'll sell a lot more and enjoy your work more too.

4. Build trust with your customers. Potential customers are often hard to reach. They don't answer their phone, voice mail, e-mail, or snail mail. Tenacious salespeople, like superheroes, don't give up. Try finding a connection, perhaps a mutual friend or customer, who will introduce you to the prospect personally. That will give you credibility so your customer will start to trust you enough to hear your pitch and help you understand his situation.

5. Put others first and help your customers without expectation. Superheroes save whoever needs saving; they don't think about how the puppies or bank customers in danger will repay them. When you meet with new customers or peers, put all your focus on solving their problems. If you can't provide those solutions, refer them to someone who can. Offer to make the introduction personally so you are confident the connection gets made correctly and quickly. Chances are you'll make a good impression and they'll send opportunities your way in the future.

6. Anticipate the future. Traditional customers usually want to hear how you can save them money. They also believe that "time is money." But innovative companies often want to hear how you can save them time, because time is increasingly seen to be more valuable than money. Their thinking is that you can always replace one dollar with another, but an hour wasted can never be regained. Be prepared to present how your offerings save both time and money, so you can serve a wider variety of customers.

7. Learn to bounce back. After the bad guy knocks the superhero over a cliff, he usually comes back and wins the battle. When you get knocked down by a competitor or a customer, train yourself to get back on your feet and fight again (BusinessWeek, 8/10/07).

8. Value your life outside your work. Most superheroes have alter egos with day jobs and earthly friends and families. If you skimp on your personal life and focus solely on your business 24/7/365, you won't have anyone to invite to your celebrations. Add your family to your superhero league; you'll have a great source of ideas to stay current and stories to help connect you to your customers.

If you act like a superhero, you can save the world before breakfast—and perhaps beat your sales quota before noon. Mask and cape are optional. Happy selling!

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.