Last Updated: Dec 20, 2017
Owning a business doesn’t make you a natural salesperson, yet selling is the most important thing you’ll do in your business. Here are tips to improve your selling skills.
Regardless of who you are, what you do, where you live, or what kind of product or service you offer, selling is the single most important day-to-day activity in your business. Very few products sell themselves so somebody has to get your product or service into the public eye.
Some people are natural salespeople. They fall into all of those sales clichés like, “She’s such a good salesperson that she could sell beef to a cow.” Other people hate selling. They went into business to fix cars or build homes—they’re not looking to take people out to lunch or talk to thousands of perspective customers at a convention.
The bottom line is this: If you want a successful business, get out there and sell. Don’t know how or want to improve? Keep reading.
It’s really nothing personal. They probably don’t know you, never met you, and will never talk to you again. Don’t shy away from cold calling or emailing. Sending a “Dear Homeowner” email mass marketing message to 100 people who don’t know you is unlikely to bring any responses. It could also get you marked as a spammer, causing all email you send to go into people’s spam folder.
Instead, contact people individually by name. Let them know why you are contacting them and how you got their name. (“Dear Joe, When I met you last week, you mentioned… Here is some information you’ll find useful.”) Don’t discouraged or stopped by hearing “no.” Remember, if you persist, some of the responses will be “yes.” (And some of the “no’s” just mean not now.)
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People love to label themselves as an introvert or extrovert. Of course, some sort of judgment comes along with the label. “I wish I was an extrovert so I was a more outgoing person.” The truth is that neither true introverts or extrovert close more sales than the other. Most people fall in the middle. Ambiverts are able to take on either role when it suits them.
You’re probably an ambivert. You have the ability to read the person you’re talking to and become the outgoing or reserved salesperson. Don’t limit yourself with labels.
Every sales article mentions this but few talk about what it means. Passion doesn’t just mean you believe in the product and would use it yourself; it also means that you know everything there is to know about it. There’s no question you couldn’t answer. You know how it’s made, the science behind it, ongoing research, people who write about it, complimentary products, and if asked, you could get on your phone and find a dozen people who swear by it.
Passion doesn’t just mean you love what you sell. Passion means that you’re the expert people seek out. You’re the one people write about in trade magazines, and you’re the one other people who like the product dream of working for.
Successful people don’t hope. They don’t wonder “if” something will work. They do the research first to determine the need for what they are selling. Then, they operate with the mentality that success is there for the taking if they’ll work hard and smart. If you opened your business with an “if” mentality, it’s time to change it. If you’re not confident in what you sell, your prospects won’t be confident that buying from you is a good decision.
Now that we have the right attitude, it’s time to talk specifics. Just because a prospect isn’t interested today doesn’t mean they won’t be interested in the future. Form a relationship before asking for a sale. If they say no to the initial ask you can circle back to them later or continue sending them valuable content until they are ready. Don’t give up on the no-people.
Again, this sales 101 but what does that mean? It means that you’ve spent time researching them and their business. You know their career history and if you sell to businesses, you know what they do, who their customers are, and you’re armed with questions to ask the prospect to fill in the gaps. You even know some top-level information about their family because you looked them up on social media. Don’t get creepy with personal knowledge but you never know how it could be helpful as you form the relationship.
If you sell a product for women, should you market to men? If you sell something geared to senior citizens should you advertise to 45-year-olds? The answers aren’t as cut and dry as you might think but don’t waste time selling to the wrong people. Today’s marketing technology gives you the opportunity to target exactly who you want to target. If you want to show an ad to parents between the ages of 40-50 who live in a 10 mile radius of your business who have a child going into college, you can do it. Your prospect list should be tightly targeted. Becoming a high-performing salesperson becomes a lot easier when you’re selling to the right audience.
And by the way, don’t count out certain people. Make sure you test the different demographics before deciding that they won’t buy.
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If you don’t set a goal, you’ll hit it every time. How much of your next month’s revenue will be from new sales? How much product will you move this month? Professional salespeople have quotas set for them by the companies they work for. You need to set quotas for yourself and your business. Don’t stop until you meet the quota. Make it realistic but not easy.
Sometimes the secret is that there’s no secret. Sales is an in-the-trenches endeavor. It takes a lot of time, you’re probably going to get dirty, you’ll experience a wild range of emotions, and sometimes the battle will seem hopeless. Every sales professional experiences this so stick to your plan, stay confident, and hustle until you run out of hours in the day. You’ll make it!
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