What is your reaction when you hear the word sales? If you're like many of the people I encounter, you have a negative view of sales. But I think this is a strange attitude to have, because ultimately everybody is in sales. If you've ever been on a date, you sold someone on asking you out, or on saying yes to your request. If you've ever gotten married, you participated in a big sale! Or, if you've ever succeeded in comforting someone who's feeling bad, then you also participated in a sale.

Sales, from my viewpoint, is one of the most critical skills to learn if we want to be effective as parents, managers, community activists, or leaders in any other role.

If this concept is so important, then why do so many have a negative reaction to it? Sales is often confused with shoving something down somebody's throat. We all know that this approach seldom works. It causes the person who's listening to dig in their feet. People also confuse sales with providing information. But that's not sales, either.

Here is my definition of sales: communicating in such a way that causes an action to be taken. And if you follow this Ultimate Sales Formula, the probability that an action will be taken will increase. The Ultimate Sales Formula consists of three simple concepts that must be followed in a specific order: 1) want, 2) problem and 3) solution. (For more on this subject, see my book, When Good Intentions Run Smack into Reality.)

Even though the first concept in the Ultimate Sales Formula is want, many of us jump straight to "solution." For example, after someone attends the Personal Mastery seminar, they might say to one of their friends, "You've got to go to this Klemmer seminar. It's great." But it's much more effective to first find out what the person you're talking to wants, or what really matters to them. Do they want a better marriage? Do they desire to make more money? Are they after a promotion at work?

Once you've determined what the other person wants, then you can move on to the second concept in the Ultimate Sales Formula: problem. You can ask, "What's the problem in getting what you want?" This allows the person you're speaking with to articulate why they feel they can't achieve their desires. Perhaps they feel as it they can't have a more fulfilling marriage because their wife smokes. Or they can't make more money because they get paid by the hour and there are only so many hours in the day. Perhaps the promotion they long for seems impossible because nobody at their office gets promoted unless somebody dies.

It's at this point that you can offer the solution. You can say, "Hey, if I have a solution for that, are you interested?" Since most people will answer yes, you will then be at a point where you can tell them about your experience at the seminar.

As you explore what a person wants and why they feel as if they can't achieve it, you will put yourself in position to offer solutions that will be received by those you speak with.