Two Skills Everyone Needs But Very Few Possess

Do you want to be successful? I’m not talking about money, though that may result. I’m talking about getting from where you are to where you want to be – starting that business, getting that promotion, landing that new client, creating a new product line, etc.

I believe there are only two skills you need that will make up for any of those you may not have:

  1. The Ability to Sell What You Believe In
  2. The Ability to Deliver What You Sell

Everything is Sales

The economy runs on selling a product or service for money. Even if you’re a programmer or a customer service rep, you’re in sales. Everything is sales:

  • Hiring Managers sell the position to potential employees. You want the best applicants? Sell them on why your company is the best place to work.
  • Entrepreneurs sell ideas to potential investors. They hear hundreds, if not thousands, of pitches per year. Tell them why they should care about yours.
  • Job Applicants sell themselves to a company. If two people with similar resumes apply for the same job, who gets it? The one who can sell themselves over the other person. I’ve even hired people with less experience just because they convinced me they’d work harder.
  • Revolutionaries sell people on why the status quo needs to be shaken up. Every person who’s ever led a movement, first had to convince a lot of people to see things as they did. They sold their vision and ideas.

Bottom line? You’re in sales whether you want to believe it or not. Embrace it. Then learn to sell your ideas, yourself, your business and your dreams.

Deliver on What You Sell

The term “salesman” has taken on a negative connotation. Primarily because so many things or ideas we’ve been sold don’t deliver. We don’t trust salespeople. We think they’re lying. I don’t believe that most salespeople intend to be dishonest. However, I believe most people sell something and then don’t deliver. Delivering takes effort. Delivering takes diligence. Delivering is hard, constant work.

If you can learn to sell what you believe in, then deliver on what you sell – be it an idea, your skill set, your company – you will never be lacking for business or a job. Many people can do one or the other. Only the truly successful learn to do both.

Do you possess these two skills? How do you use them in your pursuit of success?

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About the Author

  • At BookFool.com, we're selling all … the … time. This is true for any start-up or small business.

    One of the only times we're not selling is when we're interviewing new Fools for open positions. We actively try to dissuade them from taking the job and let them sell us on why they want it anyway. It's astonishing how many applicants have no idea why they want to work for us!

    • Interesting approach! I find the same thing to be true: some people have a hard time explaining why they want the position. Out of curiosity, have you been able to find a better team using this approach?

      • I attended a Dave Ramsey Entreleadership event in which he shared this quote from his head of HR (I paraphrase): "We have 99% turnover … before we hire." We are similarly picky, but the result is a very high-functioning and committed team member who knows exactly why he or she is working at BookFool. So far so good!

        Not to thread-jack you here, but I would love to hear more about your adventures in hiring sometime. I didn't think I'd be working HR when I joined BookFool, but I guess it was inevitable!

        • I have a similar philosophy modeled a bit after Dave's team. I'd rather churn through people on the front end rather than post-hire. It takes too much time and money.

          The most important thing I've learned after 10 years of hiring people is this: be willing to have an empty position for as long as it takes to find the perfect person. I don't rush to hire anyone. I made that mistake early on and it cost me a lot of time, a lot of money and a lot of sleepless nights. I'm willing to take 6 months to fill the spot if that's how long it takes for the perfect person to come along.

          I'll likely do a post on it soon, but here's the basic flow I use:
          1. Write an incredibly detailed job description. Also, put the money they will make in the ad. I'm all about being up-front and honest. I also don't want to interview someone who wants to make more than I'm willing to pay. This cuts down on a LOT of junk applications and resumes.
          2. Do quick 20-30 minute phone interviews with only those who look interesting. You can tell a lot about people in 20-30 minutes. I usually have a sense in the first 3-5 minutes.
          3. If I like them, I'll schedule an in-person interview that runs about an hour. The thing I look for here is excitement about the position and character. I've had people use profanity in an interview. It shocks me how much of their default character comes through when they're under pressure. I can train skills. I can't train character.
          4. If they do well in that, we give them the Strengths Finder 2.0 test. We want to make sure they'll fit in the position we have for them. I don't want an Activator in a project management role. Most other tests can be manipulated. I've taken most of them and I think this is the most accurate profile and its nearly impossible to manipulate.
          5. Then we invite them and their spouse (if applicable) to dinner/lunch and let the spouse ask us questions. This is a big one since (as Dave Ramsey says) our wives have a sixth sense and can read people. If she gets that "feeling" as he calls it, that ends it for the candidate.
          6. If there are no red flags, make an offer. This is it in a short list. There's more, but this is the gist.

          This got long-winded. May not need to do a separate post on it now. 🙂

          • Good stuff. Scott mentioned Strengths Finder too. We'll have to check that out.

            Alas, the profanity thing doesn't surprise me. We had a candidate (a pre-screened candidate, no less) ramble and swear for 20 minutes on how much he hated his past jobs and managers. We finally had to cut him off and send him on his way.

  • At BookFool.com, we're selling all … the … time. This is true for any start-up or small business.

    One of the only times we're not selling is when we're interviewing new Fools for open positions. We actively try to dissuade them from taking the job and let them sell us on why they want it anyway. It's astonishing how many applicants have no idea why they want to work for us!

    • Interesting approach! I find the same thing to be true: some people have a hard time explaining why they want the position. Out of curiosity, have you been able to find a better team using this approach?

      • I attended a Dave Ramsey Entreleadership event in which he shared this quote from his head of HR (I paraphrase): "We have 99% turnover … before we hire." We are similarly picky, but the result is a very high-functioning and committed team member who knows exactly why he or she is working at BookFool. So far so good!

        Not to thread-jack you here, but I would love to hear more about your adventures in hiring sometime. I didn't think I'd be working HR when I joined BookFool, but I guess it was inevitable!

        • I have a similar philosophy modeled a bit after Dave's team. I'd rather churn through people on the front end rather than post-hire. It takes too much time and money.

          The most important thing I've learned after 10 years of hiring people is this: be willing to have an empty position for as long as it takes to find the perfect person. I don't rush to hire anyone. I made that mistake early on and it cost me a lot of time, a lot of money and a lot of sleepless nights. I'm willing to take 6 months to fill the spot if that's how long it takes for the perfect person to come along.

          I'll likely do a post on it soon, but here's the basic flow I use:
          1. Write an incredibly detailed job description. Also, put the money they will make in the ad. I'm all about being up-front and honest. I also don't want to interview someone who wants to make more than I'm willing to pay. This cuts down on a LOT of junk applications and resumes.
          2. Do quick 20-30 minute phone interviews with only those who look interesting. You can tell a lot about people in 20-30 minutes. I usually have a sense in the first 3-5 minutes.
          3. If I like them, I'll schedule an in-person interview that runs about an hour. The thing I look for here is excitement about the position and character. I've had people use profanity in an interview. It shocks me how much of their default character comes through when they're under pressure. I can train skills. I can't train character.
          4. If they do well in that, we give them the Strengths Finder 2.0 test. We want to make sure they'll fit in the position we have for them. I don't want an Activator in a project management role. Most other tests can be manipulated. I've taken most of them and I think this is the most accurate profile and its nearly impossible to manipulate.
          5. Then we invite them and their spouse (if applicable) to dinner/lunch and let the spouse ask us questions. This is a big one since (as Dave Ramsey says) our wives have a sixth sense and can read people. If she gets that "feeling" as he calls it, that ends it for the candidate.
          6. If there are no red flags, make an offer. This is it in a short list. There's more, but this is the gist.

          This got long-winded. May not need to do a separate post on it now. 🙂

          • Good stuff. Scott mentioned Strengths Finder too. We'll have to check that out.

            Alas, the profanity thing doesn't surprise me. We had a candidate (a pre-screened candidate, no less) ramble and swear for 20 minutes on how much he hated his past jobs and managers. We finally had to cut him off and send him on his way.

  • If a person tells you they are not a salesman, you one of two things about them: 1. They are a modest person. 2. They are a poor salesman.