How to Sell Without Selling Your Soul | Steve Harrison | TEDxWilmingtonSalon

How to Sell Without Selling Your Soul | Steve Harrison | TEDxWilmingtonSalon


Translator: Zsuzsa Viola
Reviewer: Tanya Cushman When I was a college student
many moons ago, in Davidson, North Carolina, my resident adviser, Rob,
came to me, and he said, “Steve, did I ever tell you
about the great summer job that I had?” I said, “No.” He said, “It was really wonderful. I got to work in marketing
for this great publishing company; in fact, it paid really well, and the guy who hired me
is coming to campus, and he’s going to be
interviewing students. I want to invite you to hear about this. Maybe you can get a job.” I was really flattered, and because of my respect for Rob,
I went to the interview. It was marketing;
it was publishing, all right: it was selling books door-to-door. (Laughing) Now, I took a look at that, and I did what any reasonable
college student would do. I signed up. Yeah, I signed up. I signed up to sell children’s books, 80 hours a week, straight commission. My dad and my mom, they freaked out. You know, my dad’s a corporate attorney,
and he just knew that – look, I had never sold anything. I didn’t have a charismatic
bone in my body. I was just a nice kid
who liked to eat Pop-Tarts. But flash forward –
the big day arrives, 7:42 a.m. I’m in Rob’s car; we’re driving out to the neighborhood
to begin knocking on doors. My heart is racing;
I’ve got a gigantic lump in my throat. I remember looking down
at my khaki shorts, and my knees are literally shaking. And he’s like, “Steve,
any last minute stuff I can do for you?” I’m like, “Yeah,
don’t let me out of this car.” (Laughing) Next thing I know, I’m standing on a sidewalk
in a suburb of Lincoln, Nebraska. I just see house after house,
door after door. I remember staring at the first door, waiting for the right
psychological moment to knock. Now, before I tell you what happened, I have a question for you: Whose door should you be knocking on? Who do you want to say yes to you? Because, I tell you, you know, one thing I’ve seen
is that we’re all in sales, so to speak. We all have something to sell. It may be that you have a business where you want to convince people
to buy your product or service. Maybe you work
with a nonprofit organization and you need to convince people
to donate their time and money. Or maybe you’re a parent trying to convince your kids
to do their homework – good luck with that. (Laughing) But who is it? Whose door
should you be knocking on? Who is it that you want to say yes to you? Is it a friend?
Is it a business associate? Is it your boss? is it a possible date for Friday night? Who is it? Now, when I – because at the end of this talk,
I’m going to invite you, I’m going to challenge you
to reach out to somebody. Now, the idea of reaching out to somebody, how many of you find that idea
just a little bit scary? Yeah, you know. And I was terrified. I mean, here I was,
back on the doorstep here, Lincoln, Nebraska. I’m about to knock on this door, and I remember something that Rob,
my friend who got me into this, said to me. He said, “Steve,
don’t try to sell anybody. You just focus on loving and serving them, and you focus on leaving them
a little happier than when you came.” That got me going,
and that got me knocking. People were friendly enough,
but nobody let me in. I mean, I was really bad. And some people weren’t friendly at all. I mean, one lady comes to the door
but won’t even open the door. She’s just frowning at me
through the glass. She’s like, “Look,
you know, I’m not interested. You know, just show me what you got.” I grabbed these five children’s books
out of my satchel, and I just completely – terrified. I totally blanked,
and I didn’t know what to do, and then I thought, “Well, let me at least try
to love and serve her and leave her with a smile.” So all of a sudden,
my creativity kicked in. I start actually, you know,
reading little excerpts of the stories. I found voices for animal voices in me
that I didn’t even know I had. (Laughter) She’s not smiling. “Young man, may I ask you a question?” “Yes.” “Will you take a MasterCard
or do I have to write you a check?” (Laughing) MasterCard, check? I take Discover! That’s how I made my first sale. And I survived that summer; and in fact, because of things
I learned along the way, I actually finished that summer
as one of the top first-year salespeople. And then, I actually went
into business with my brother, where we teach – irony of ironies – people, we teach them how to market their books,
their products and their services, and my dad couldn’t be prouder. Here’s what I’ve learned: Everyone has doors. That if you knock
on those doors, they open. They can bring incredible blessings. But most of us never knock,
because we’re scared. Those doors could bring you sales. They could bring you funding. They could bring you advice,
connections, publicity. But you don’t knock on them,
and you know why? I’m convinced it’s because
we have a giant misconception of what it means to sell. To “sell” is a dirty word. People think it’s manipulative
or something like that. I have redefined what it is to sell. I want to give you my definition. I created a little acronym. Now, I don’t really like acronyms, but I created this
because I think it’s really helpful: To sell – S-E-L-L: Sincerely Encourage by Listening and Loving. Sincerely Encourage by Listening
and Loving – makes all the difference. You know, S is for “Sincerely.” When I think of sincere,
I think of Elaine. She’s one of the sweetest,
most sincere people I know. She came to me, and she said, “Steve, I’m a psychologist. I have this program that,
really, I know will help children.” I mean, her love for children
just radiates from her. “And the thing is, though, Steve, the schools aren’t interested. Nobody’s paying me. I guess I’m just not much
of a salesperson.” I said, “Elaine, you have
what it really takes to sell. You have one of the most important assets: your sincerity. You just need a little bit of training.” So I taught her how to have
the conversation with people, how to reach out. She calls on the principal
of a local school. When she calls on that principal, principal says, “I’ve got
so much going on right now. My calendar is just jammed.” The old Elaine would have just
turned around and walked away rejected. The new Elaine, Elaine version 2.0, took a breath and just really experienced
that principal’s stress. And she just said, “Wow, I could see, I could understand. You really do have a lot going on. Since your calendar’s jammed now,
why don’t we just take a look and see when you might have time
to talk for a few minutes because I know your kids
would really love this.” She got the appointment. She met with Elaine; the two hit it off. And as a result of that, Elaine is now doing
a pilot program at that school. In fact, she’s learned how
to communicate her values so sincerely that she is speaking
at conferences for teachers, she’s training teachers internationally, and she’s getting paid for it. But it wouldn’t have happened if she hadn’t owned
the sincerely part of her. E is for “Encouragement.” Encourage people to take action. Sometimes we’re hesitant
to knock on a door because we’re worried
about getting turned down. Do you know there are people that might just be waiting
for you to knock on their door? CareerBuilder did a survey: 76% of people who are in a full-time job,
they’re looking for another job, or at least they’re open
to another opportunity. You could encourage them
to take that action. Somebody who opened up
an opportunity for me was my high school science teacher. This guy was really shy, a real introvert, and you know, I have to tell you,
he really was very boring as a teacher. Okay? Sorry, Mr. Bush,
if you’re watching, you know. But Mr. Bush saw me
in the hallway, and he said, “Steve, can I talk to you for a minute?” I go, “Yeah, okay.” We go into his classroom. He says, “Steve, have you
ever thought about wrestling?” (Laughter) “Uh, no. I’m 91 pounds.
That’s why I run winter track.” “Well, Steve, I’m the wrestling coach, and I saw you goofing around in the gym,
and you’re really talented. I really think that you
could do well with wrestling. You can wrestle in your weight class. I mean, you’re a stud.” (Laughter) Let me tell you something: When you’re in ninth grade
and you weigh 91 pounds and somebody calls you a stud, you are encouraged to take action. (Applause) I didn’t run winter track;
I wrestled that winter. And I had great memories. I thought that he was
a mild-mannered health teacher. Turns out, Mr. Bush
was a salesperson in disguise. (Laughing) Sincerely encouraged by listening. A lot of people think
that great salespeople are great talkers. The best salespeople
are the best listeners. Forrester Research did a study,
and they found that among customers, only 13% believe that a salesperson
can understand their challenges and truly help them. The key is listening. The key is asking questions. What kinds of questions? Questions like, What are your biggest goals? Where are you trying to go? What’s getting in the way? What have you tried? What’s your story?” Robert Collier said, “The key to persuasion is to enter the conversation
already going on in the person’s mind.” How are you going to do that
if you don’t ask questions? Sincerely encourage by listening. And the last L in that S-E-L-
is the most important one of all: loving. Loving. You know, it’s amazing. Love is the most powerful
force in the world. We can overcome our greatest fears,
our greatest anxieties. We can scale to new heights. And yet when I talk to salespeople
and business leaders and sales trainers, I’m amazed that very, very few companies ever use the word “love”
in their training. It’s amazing. Maybe that’s why, according
to Harvard Business Review, people that are excited
and that sign up for a position in sales, they’re twice as likely to quit
than people in other jobs. I contend that’s because they were never
really told what sales really is. Sales, selling, is love; marketing is love. It’s about loving people. Now, I’ve had friends,
I’ve had business people tell me, “Look, you know,
this all sounds good, Steve, but don’t talk so much about love. It feels uncomfortable.” You know what I say to that? They’ll say, “Don’t talk so much about love;
talk about how selling is serving.” I say, “Okay, but focus on loving people, and you will end up
serving them so much better.” It’s amazing what it can do. You know, it’s one of these things
where what I find about the power of love is that it completely gives you
the courage and everything that you need. Everything that we’ve talked about
can be summarized really, really in that. And one of the things that I found is that
one of the biggest things you can do is focus on who you’re becoming
in this process. Because it’s easy to get up here
and talk about love, but it’s also easy to forget
to do everything I’ve just said. I find myself – I get so locked in, sometimes, to my goal and what I want to achieve
and what I want to accomplish, and I’m a million miles from this message. I’m not loving people; I’m not listening to people. I’m getting irritated.
I’m getting annoyed. I’m getting frustrated. I’ve crossed to the dark side. (Laughing) But I learned something from Og Mandino. I was reading Og Mandino, an inspirational writer for salespeople, and I actually was inspired
to create a technique. And in that moment, when I’m feeling stressed
or fearful or angry or impatient, I actually, when I catch it, I focus on the person I’m there to serve, and I mentally – without saying anything – I say to them without saying any words, just in my own mind, I say, “I love you, I love you, I love you.” And something happens: the crustiness around my heart
starts to melt away. I become more present
to this person’s humanity and more focused on them
and more compassionate. And when you do that, you become a much more
successful salesperson, but you become a better human being. Reminds me of a story that one of my early mentors,
the late Spencer Hays, told. He said, “There was a pastor one Saturday
who was working on his Sunday sermon, and his son kept bothering him,
you know, kept interrupting him. He said, ‘I’ve got to figure out a way
to keep this kid busy.’ So he grabbed a
National Geographic magazine, and he found a picture
of the planet Earth, and he tore it out,
cut it up into little pieces, and gave it to his son, and he said, “Put the planet Earth back together –
here’s some Scotch Tape – and let me know when you’re done.” He’s figuring this will keep
the kid busy for hours. Kid comes back ten minutes later – ‘Done!’ – proudly holding the world
all taped back together. His father can’t believe it; he goes, ‘What? How did you do that?’ ‘It was easy, Dad. See, on the other side of the page, (Laughter) there was a picture of a person. And I figured if I got the person right,
the world would be right.’ Say that again: ‘I figured if I got the person right,
the world would be right.'” Focus on being the right person, and the world will be
so much easier to reach. Focus on sincerely encouraging by listening and by loving, and you will be amazed at the courage you have to go to doors,
the courage you have to knock on doors. You will be amazed at how many of those people
thank you for changing their life. So whose door should you be knocking on? Who do you wish would say yes to you? I want you to go. I want you – you’ll never be
more motivated than now. I want you to go send them a text,
send them an email, make a call, take some action, and begin a conversation with them. That’s what love would do. And let me know how it goes
because I am rooting for you. Knock on that door today, and if you do, you will begin
one of the greatest journeys of your life. Thank you. (Applause)

29 Replies to “How to Sell Without Selling Your Soul | Steve Harrison | TEDxWilmingtonSalon

  1. Outstanding talk! Steve's talk not only taught me a lot about selling but taught me how to be a better person and change the world. His four tips for selling by loving people and serving them gave me courage and resolve; I know now that I can do this too! He spoke my language.

  2. For anyone who is reluctant about selling, or just interested in a unique approach, watching Steve Harrison’s TEDx could be a game-changer. I learned so much from Steve when I took his year-long Quantum Leap marketing program in 2007. Later, I was incredibly lucky to become Steve’s coach-so I have the opportunity to really know how sincere and dedicated Steve is. I’ve rarely met anyone who gets as much joy and satisfaction from helping people work through their worries and myths about offering their services, their books…

  3. Wow, amazing Ted Talk, Steve Harrison! You reached me right in the heart with your powerful stories and four steps. I loved your questions! I agree completely that when we put love energy out into the world it changes us & thus changes our world…

  4. Excellent delivery and stories. Like the Sincere Encourage Listen, Loving. Been in sales over 40 years best explanation of the profession of selling. Papa Soob

  5. Thanks for this and your offer to encourage us to replace fear of knocking on doors to instead focus on encouraging others by listening and loving. It will help us both, and open doors to sales. Pardon pun.

  6. What an important message for all of us trying to achieve a goal or help others achieve theirs! Thank you, Steve, you've always been a wonderful mentor and teacher to me and many thousands of others.

  7. Thanks, Steve, for sharing your story from the heart. I too, started out my "Selling Career" with door-door sales with Watkins, at 15 years old. The suitcase was SO heavy I could barely get it up the steps to the front door. LOL It was the best "training" I could have gotten.
    I love the new way to look at S.E.L.L….excellent, I'll share that with other's.
    Focus on Loving and Serving Them……best concept ever.
    I've been on your Email list for years…..and feel as if I know you now, more than ever.
    I'll share this on FB…….Blessings in all you do. Dazzling Dolly.

  8. Nice job, Steve. I've been with you on numerous occasions (Quantum Leap, Jack Canfield's mastermind group, etc.), but have never seen you in action in a TED Talk format. You aced it! You come across as just a guy who really cares about his subject and–most importantly–about his audience. As you point out, connecting with people in an authentic and persuasive way is really pretty simple. Your SELL acronym sums it up beautifully. Rodger Dean Duncan

  9. Wow, this was a heartfelt talk that I could listen to repeatedly. I learned a lot and connected with the speech. It changed my perspective in relating to people and what selling should be.

  10. Great message and storytelling and of course, a sales call to action! As a former sales trainer and sales performance consultant I applaud your message and think it bears repeating. Everyone gives lip-service to serving customers, but you get it; "When you love, you serve better." Customer service is about listening but love is the secret sauce because when you add love to the equation, you are selling with a servant's heart. My head was nodding as you made another great point by saying, "Love gives you the courage to…" and I personally and professionally know the truth and power of your message. Bravo for your courage to add the "L" word to the world of selling!

  11. Steve Harrison is one of the ABSOLUTE BEST in the business!!! He genuinely cares about seeing you succeed!!! If you truly want to make an impact and make a difference with your story, STEVE IS THE GUY!!! You're the best…changed my life!!!

  12. Steve, hearing your personal experiences and learning from your focus and insights about SELLing, empowered me to change my perspective and challenge my limiting beliefs about the integrity and service inherent in selling…thanks so much for opening the door when I knocked!

  13. The framework of the video was too good and it was quite fictional in nature. After all, the moral always comes from a story.
    Well done, sir!

  14. Im just a little boy living in Vietnam country. 1 month ago, I've gotten the internship in a real estate company as a salephone man. Thank to Steve Harrion presentation which help me recall super powerful stories talking about how greatest job in this world. Thank you so much, wish yours best!
    SELL – SINCERELY ENCOURAGE BY LISTENING AND LOVING

  15. Sincerely & encourage & listen & love= sell. Love this and couldn’t agree more. Authenticity sells and that is exactly what you are saying in this talk.
    This is a fantastic TEDx talk. Thank you Steve!

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