I’ve sold practically everything over the years. Sawmill equipment. Automobiles. Real estate. I naturally took to sales early on, both in temperament and passion. I brought great enthusiasm from the very beginning–one of the most important qualities you can bring to what you do. What I did not have, however, was much success. Why? I was focused on the pitches and tactics I was taught. And the more I practiced, the worse I got. I simply couldn’t seem to gain any traction.

I only turned my fortune around when I took on what I probably considered the most daunting product of all in terms of complexity and stakes–new homes. This will typically be the largest and most important investment that a consumer will make in their lifetime. There is little room for error, especially when it comes to brand new homes that don’t have a lengthy history like standing properties. It was clear that entering this market would be the biggest challenge of my career.

And, yet, it was only then that I succeeded, beyond my most optimistic of projections.

What was different? In simplest of terms, I learned how to S.M.I.L.E.

The Power of a Smile

In a world riddled with pessimism, a smile stands out. Don’t believe me? Just look at all of the consumers who pass up trendy restaurants to return to that café where the waiter always has a genuine smile to greet them. Simply put, happy people spread joy throughout the world–and in the business world, there are enormous rewards to be reaped if you can spread happiness.


The acronym itself is something I keep in mind when things get hectic. It reminds me of my fundamental approach for business. Depending on whom you ask, each letter might stand for a different concept. Here’s how I try to think of it:

– Keep it Simple. Many of us tend to overthink things. In truth, life can be very simple if we focus on a few key things that are important to us and shut out the rest of the noise. That key thing I discovered is people. Make your interaction about the person. And when you do, you’ll see a big smile on their face.

– I strive to remember that business is ultimately about ways for Me to build those relationships with the people that I help (and the same goes for you). When we continue to strengthen those relationships by staying in touch, helping, serving, and caring, those folks will go out of their way to help us become even more successful. Me becomes We and now everyone is wearing even bigger smiles!

– Identify the Individual. Cultivate a clear understanding of your strengths. Learning how to better understand yourself will help you recognize the clues others send out about how they see the world. With that understanding, you can then make a conscious adjustment to get “in step” with them. You and your guests will smile when that happens.

– Focus on the Little decisions. On your day off, think about how we deal with chores and errands. We…

  • make a list of what needs to be done.
  • prioritize the list in what’s most important to least.
  • draw great satisfaction in checking off the items.

Correct? Absolutely, like I just did. So why don’t we use this same idea with our guests? Why don’t we break the decision making process down into the little yes’s that need to be made? Then ask which are most important to least. And lastly, go about checking them off. And if we get enough yes’s, the decision has been made. Again, more smiles!

– Enjoy what you do! Whoever came up with the notion that work should be perceived as sheer drudgery has never seen the power of an engaged and enthusiastic person who loves what they do. It is incredible what we can achieve when it becomes a joy to go to the office. That joy – that love for what we do – will guarantee we’re wearing a smile. And our smile is easily transferred to our guests.

As an author and consultant, the smiles that now light up my face come from the success stories I hear of sales professionals who have benefited from learning how to S.M.I.L.E. Those are special. But every now and then I get to hear stories from the families who experienced it themselves? And those are extra special.

One of those extra special stories occurred on my S.M.I.L.E. Pre-Release Book Tour. Susan and I had dropped by Jensen Beach, FL to say hi to Trevor Wilson whose success story is told in S.M.I.L.E. Trevor worked for Carefree Communities in the Tampa area when we first met. During his eight months on the sales floor, he had toured sixty-three people with zero sales. In his words, “I had been putting product first and paying no attention to people. I was going to work every day focused on talking about my stuff.” In his first two weeks after learning how to S.M.I.L.E., Trevor saw nine guests of whom three purchased. Trevor became a happy young man! Trevor was smiling again!

So, when we stopped by to give Trevor his autographed copy, he couldn’t wait to get us on a golf cart for a tour. We loved the property! But what we loved even more was the smile of Trevor’s face when he’d point out home after home of family after family he had served who we could tell he absolutely loved.

My extra special moment occurred when we turned down the last street and the Banks family spotted Trevor. They immediately flagged us over and gave him the biggest hug. Trevor introduced us to Tom and Muriel who had moved from Miami. They were the sweetest couple ever and insisted we come see their new home. It was lovely. But the story they shared about Trevor was even more lovely.

“We had stopped by some months earlier to just check out the property,” they told us. “We had no intentions of buying and told that to the folks at the front desk. But when we met Trevor, and saw his beautiful smile, and he made us feel so important, well everything changed. We fell in love with him, and this beautiful property came with it. We love being here. But we love Trevor even more!” Then with another big hug they added, “We know about his wonderful parents back in Tampa. But, he knows he has adopted parents here. He’s family! He put a smile on our faces!” Thus the title…

S.M.I.L.E. and the World Smiles with You

We concluded that visit with the picture you see above that title. Oh, and we got a big hug too!

This post originally appeared on Steve Rigby’s blog.