Sales Is 15% Personality, 80% Skill, And 5% BS

Oct 22 2012

I had the pleasure of being the keynote at a end of year gala for a U of I sales class this past week and realized that after 20 years of retail and online sales I accidentally learned a little. While I didn’t open up with this exact statement, I did say that sales is a skill that comes from practice, knowledge of product,  that all lead to a confidence that produces results. Combine that with an outgoing, good personality and you’ll have a great salesman. I also added that a little “flair” would help aka the ability to bullshit a little. But without the right balance of flair and knowledge it becomes just bullshit. I gave the speech off the cuff but here are 10 things that I think they took away from my little talk. Many don’t apply to domaining because we have unique products of which two aren’t alike, but mastering sales is something we all can benefit from.

1. You are selling yourself every single day. Every new introduction. Every meeting. Every encounter. You are trying to make a positive impression on those around you.  We all get to practice our sales skills 10 hours a day.

2.  Know your product.  There shouldn’t be any question that you can’t answer.  If you have a big line know everything in that line.  I am constantly amazed how many salespeople come into my store and know less about the product they are selling than me.   They might of well have just sent me an email to an order form on a website.  In today’s market I can go get information easily but I truly appreciate meeting with a person that can relay that information and answer my questions.

3.  Learn your customer’s personality   Each customer is sold in a different way.  Some need to be hand held.  Some merely want to be sent an availability list. Others simply want the best price.  A good salesperson has to be a psychologist.

4.  Leave your ego at the door.  While you may be in control of the sale on the inside, on the outside you always have to let the buyer feel they run the show.  You are their lackey. Partnerships can certainly be developed but in commodity type product sales, the buyer is the more important entity in the relationship.

5.  Selling in person and non visual/personal sales are two different horses.   They require completely different skills.  It is much easier to sell in person.  I don’t mean easy as far as time, but easier in the fact that buyers can’t ignore you when you are in their face.  If you think buyers are in control in personal, face to face sales, they REALLY are in control using email and websites.  The day of the outside salesman is dying and more companies are dropping their brokers and traveling reps.  They merely email and call you  and make sure to keep their websites up to date.  Their needs to be more training in this area

6. You have to stand out.  In the domain industry we talk about memorable domains.  You need to be a memorable salesperson.  There are many ways to be memorable.  Make it a positive.  I try and be the guy that knows an incredible amount about the product combined with a guy that understands the craziness of life.  I also mix in a little humor.  I try and bullshit without it coming across like bullshit. That’s just me.  Everyone has to find their own angle.  One person I work with always brings me 3 tootsie pops.  Another guy sends every email with a different funny photo at the end.  A third is like an encyclopedia of pesticides.  I don’t forget those guys.

7.  Sell a great product.   Life will be so much easier if you get to sell a good product.  Unfortunately, we don’t always have that choice but there are some choices that can be made.  Selling Suzuki cars is a living but selling Prius would be much easier. Of course, there is always the nice challenge of taking a new product and turning it into a top seller.

8.  Always give a response aka communicate.   This is one of the biggest mistakes people make.  It is human nature to want to know that you are being taken care of.  Don’t wait until you have an answer to get back to them. As soon as you’ve received an email or inquiry, get right back to them.  Tell your customer that you received the question and will get them an answer.  A quick reply that lets them know you are on it goes a long way.

9.  No problem is a problem.  It may just be my age but I don’t like hearing “no problem” after telling someone thank you.  Somehow over the last 10 years the United States turned into Jamaica.  I feel like there are 10 other responses that are more polite.  It’s probably not as big of a deal as I make it out to be but I do see much better responses when my sales people respond with “you’re welcome Brad, if you need anything else please give me a call”

10. Did I say learn your product?  I can’t stress it enough


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Outsmarting the Dumb, Outworking the Smart

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  1. Olex

    Good accumulated experience tips. Thank you.
    I like your point for “two different horses” too.
    What’s your opinion which “horse” works more when you sell domains?

    1. Post author


      The seller is in control of the domain negotiations. It’s a one of kind product and there is nothing else equal. The price is dictated merely by how many people can use that domain to make money. The more people that have possibilities to monetize it the easier it is to sell. So your answer is the buyer horse has to work harder on good domains. The seller horse on bad ones.

    1. Post author

      Thanks Bill,
      It was a pretty good size class of 100 or so and I saw pictures being taken but didn’t see anyone taping my little talk. I’ll have to check youtube.

  2. Morgan

    Awesome post Shane! A video would have definitely been great – you need to have DomainSherpa and his crew around next time you do one of these things!

  3. Nick Capece

    Spot on post! I think you really lend exception to the domain community with all your experince in your garden/landscape businesses. A great mix of web 2.0 and real world 1.0

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