Sell Sell Sell – How to understand people

You know when you meet someone for the first time & they ask you “what do you do for a crust?”

I work in Sales. I’m a bag man.

What’s a bag man? I get stuff out of my bag and sell it. Granted I do this in the online world now – but there’s only one thing people care about in sales & it’s the results you deliver.

So what makes a truly great bag man?

Is it the slick, extroverted guy who can talk who can make stuff up & talk his way through anything? Or perhaps the guy who knows all the facts, figures and detail to everything you didn’t know you needed? For long term selling – I believe it comes down to one thing.


Building relationships with new people isn’t exactly easy – specifically if you’re naturally introverted like me. The below is what I do & is relevant for everyone who works with people (i.e. not just sales people). At the end of the day, we all sell sell sell.

Where do you start? One needs to understand what makes someone tick, before you come up with a way to get them to buy into what you want to sell them. How I start this process is quite simple.

I paint portraits. Not real ones (though I love art & will write about this another time), but mental ones of people’s character & personality. Once you get pro at this (with lots of practice), you will be able to predict people’s behaviour, reactions and decisions.

Start with a blank canvas. Hold back any prejudice and let the person tell you their story. If they’ve prompted you to tell your’s first, I would advise telling them something about yourself that you’ve told to 100 other people – being genuine and credible at a first meeting is incredibly important.

After you have concisely come to the point of your story (e.g. I got my first job in FMCG through my love of Fashion. How? I recited the entire alphabet in Designer Fashion labels at the interview – true story), ASK the person for their story & just listen. Don’t start thinking about your next line to impress, just listen. Take an extra 3 seconds to think about the “next logical question” to show that you have a deep understanding/concern for what they have just told you. But honestly, just listen. 

Just listen. Every piece of information a person shares with you is a reflection of their thought process, concerns and even their childhood/upbringing. There have been times within minutes of meeting someone, I would be able to tell that they have extremely close or distant relationships with their parents – how? Carefully listening to tonality and seeing facial responses to anything said about their childhood or just their parents.

Every piece of information you gain on a person is paint for your canvas. I will constantly ask mutual friends/connections for information on people all the time & social media/internet has made gathering basic information so much easier. Yes its kinda stalkerish, but enormously powerful in establish rapport with someone new very quickly.

Will come to how to use the above in the next post…