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How to Sell Without Selling Your Soul: Steve Harrison (Transcript)

Full text of marketing expert Steve Harrison’s talk: How to Sell Without Selling Your Soul at TEDxWilmingtonSalon conference. In this talk, Steve reveals a simple four-step method for unleashing your desire to serve others so you can be more comfortable, confident and convincing.

Listen to the MP3 Audio here:

TRANSCRIPT:

Steve Harrison – Marketing expert

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. And I really 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.

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… he 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 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.”

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.

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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.

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. She’s not smiling.

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“Young man, may I ask you a question?”

“Yes.”

“Will you take a MasterCard or do I have to write you a check?”

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