Whether we’re writing an essay, interviewing for a job or explaining the merits of broccoli to our kids, we’re all involved in sales. And since we spend so much of our time selling, we might as well learn how to do it properly. This was the primary goal of Day 4 of the MaRS Future Leaders camp, a program for the idea builders and doers of tomorrow.

When people think of sales, they often picture a hard-bargaining used car salesperson. However, the “always be closing” style of selling has been replaced by a new style, the ABCs of selling: attunement, buoyancy and clarity.

Attunement-based sales conversations involve uncovering a customer’s problem or needs. For example, if you’re attempting to sell a toaster you should simply ask your potential customer whether they toast things regularly rather than pitching them the various features of said toaster. By identifying your customer’s needs first, you’ll be able to better tailor your pitch and you’ll also avoid wasting both of your time.

Buoyancy is an exercise in self-rejection. By writing yourself a letter of rejection, or by asking one of your teammates to play devil’s advocate, you can make the feeling of rejection that comes along with failing to sell the latest toaster (or other product) hurt a bit less. This technique may also help you to identify any weak spots in your pitch, especially if you list the reasons why you rejected yourself.

Clarity pertains to finding the essence of something—that is, the 1% that makes the rest of the thing possible or effective. In sales, this means finding your differentiator. If you’re a mechanic, your differentiator could be fairness; if you’re a broccoli farmer, it could be the use of natural growing methods; and if you’re a toaster salesperson, it could be the ability to never burn toast again.

This new method of sales led into Day 4’s talk by Colin Burwell, the founder of Empty Cup Media. Colin discussed the art of storytelling and offered students advice on how to craft their video teasers, which will preface their pitches on Day 5.

Future leaders spent Day 4 created video pitches in preparation for their live pitches in front of the competition judges
Future leaders spent Day 4 created video teasers in preparation for their live competition pitches

Colin was very impressed as he worked to help the future leaders refine their pitches.

“When working with high school students, I’m always intrigued and interested with the ways that they approach similar issues,” he said. “With so many minds in the same room they look in different directions. It could be very easy to dismiss their ideas because they’re very young, but they offer a brilliant and original perspective.”

After lunch, the teens were given a chance to learn some social media skills from Jennifer Marron, MaRS’ community manager, who emphasized the importance of authenticity, transparency and positivity.

Summarizing her talk, Jennifer said: “It’s all about planning out a strategy for your brand, which you do by picking your platforms and setting goals.”

The future leaders spent the rest of their day honing their pitches and integrating all of the feedback they’d received throughout the week.

Facilitator Chris Giantsopoulos wrapped up the day by commending the teens on how hard they’d worked.

“The ideas this year look even better than last year’s,” he remarked.

Day 5 will see the teens pitch their ideas to judges to win a $1,000 prize. Be sure to follow the #FutureLeaders hashtag on Twitter for a pitch-by-pitch commentary.

Read the full dispatch series:

Jeremy De Mello

Jeremy is an intern with the Venture Services and Entrepreneurship Programs teams at MaRS. He is studying towards a dual-degree in business and political science at Western University and the Richard Ivey School of Business. See more…