You can be working in the private sector or public sector – it doesn't matter. The ability to sell your ideas is a must. In fact, one could argue that one of the major factors that has held back engineers from greater financial success or notoriety – in spite of their intelligence and accomplishment – is the inability to sell themselves.
So let's all agree that selling skills are a major deficiency in many of those trained as engineers. There are a wide variety of reasons for this. Some of these include:
- You don't want to sell. That's why you went to engineering school instead of business school!
- You were never trained in how to sell.
- You think that you have to be a liar in order to sell something – and you are an honest person.
- There's always something else better to do – like engineering!
But let's face it, none of these are good reasons not to learn how to sell if it will help you get your ideas across and ultimately, make you a more successful engineer.
So if you want to learn how to be a more effective seller, here are four suggestions:
1) Find a mentor – someone who is successful and who knows how to sell. This is the person that you need to seek counsel from every time you have an idea that you need to get across. It needs to be someone who has proved they can sell and who is responsive and approachable – not easy to find but they are out there.
2) Get over the idea that you don't need to sell. Of course you do. Just because you are the expert doesn't mean everyone will just accept what you say as the gospel. You have to communicate your ideas – and the benefits of them – to your audience, whomever that might be.
3) Seek out some training. Training usually involves going through some classwork, doing role playing, being critiqued by others, and more. It can help you be a better seller. I can tell you that before I went through a formal sales training program as a young man fresh out of graduate school I didn't know a thing about selling (although I probably thought I did!).
4) Try it out. Consciously make an effort to influence others' behavior. See if keeping this idea "top of mind" helps you change your own behavior. Do you ask more questions and talk less? Are you a better listener? Are you better at picking up the cues in others' behavior? Do you talk more about benefits and less about features? Do you know when it is time to "close" and be quiet.
Speaking of selling, we hope you like our October 2011 issue of CE News! It is really great to get your letters and e-mails because that is the only way we know how well we are addressing your needs. My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org, and my cell phone is 508-380-0469. We are here to help make you more successful in any way that we can!
Mark C. Zweig