Modern salesmanship has been honed down to a science. It used to be looked at like an art, which, we now realize was only partly true. The truth is that sales is more science than art but some have a natural ability that can’t be taught. For those of us who need a little help, I broke it down into a simple guide on how to sell anything.
My goal with this post is to keep it simple because there are hundreds of sales training methods out there. I chose rules that I believe are universal.
Know what you’re selling
An important piece of the puzzle of becoming successful at sales (critical skill for every entrepreneur – just ask Robert Kiyosaki) is knowing and believing in the product or service you are selling. When you believe in what you’re selling, your passion comes through naturally and is key to get others excited.
After you made your choice of what you’re going to sell; learn and know your subject inside and out. If it is a technical product or service, read specifications and internal technical documents of everything available. Most of it will probably be boring as shit but at least you’ll remember where you can get specific information down the road when you need it.
Knowing your subject is a critical building block in becoming successful at sales. That’s because once you do, you’ll speak and present yourself with confidence. Your confidence puts people at ease and let’s them feel positive in making their purchasing decision. We are a social species and like to have other people’s approval. So know your subject, present with confidence, and let your customer know they made the right choice.
Practice your presentation skills
Part of becoming confident in a subject is repetition. There is a reason they say “practice makes perfect.” Once something becomes muscle memory, you automatically become more confident in a subject.
Write down a script for various scenarios like your: elevator pitch, phone or Skype presentation, in person presentation, etc.
Practice those scripts so you can recite them forwards and backwards in your sleep. Don’t be that nervous person who stumbles over their words. When was the last time you bought something from someone who appeared nervous and unconfident?
Learn who your customer is
How lucky are we to live in the information age? You can learn anything at any time (as long as the wifi signal is decent). Make Google your friend that teaches you anything and everything. That being said, there is no excuse to not research your customer before calling or meeting them. Learn about who they are, their values, and what makes them tick.
Someone once defined sales to me as: motivating someone to make a buying decision. This statement has stuck with me all these years. Learn someone’s motivation and use it to persuade them to buy from you.
Cold calling and prospecting
You now have a product or service you’ve decided to sell and learned the topic inside and out. Let’s get some customers to buy! How do we find them and how will potential customers learn about you?
Research how the top companies are reaching their customers in your industry. It’s usually a multi-faceted approach. Lucky for you, we’re in a time when there are lots of tools available to entrepreneurs for very short money. Not only is it short money compared to the old million dollar tv commercial campaign mentality, but it can be more effective.
So go out and be a triple threat: master social media (research what platform is most effective for your goals), email marketing, and the old fashioned phone call.
Whatever method and channel you are using, make sure your elevator pitch is ready to go and open the conversation by bringing value.
You will generate a response when you bring something of value or a pitch to solve a problem to your prospect.
Make sure you understand your customer enough that you know what is important to them.
Finally, put time aside every week to dedicate towards prospecting and cold calling. It’s all about field goal attempts (obligatory basketball reference). The more opportunities you get, the more you’ll sell.
Learn to ask great questions
Asking great questions during a customer interaction is critical for your success. By asking great questions, you find out what is important and allow you to customize your presentation. In general, people want to feel like they’re heard in life and matter. A lot of times we aren’t heard, so make sure you hear your customer loud and clear.
Ask questions using “Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How”; to get people to give detailed and informative answers. It also discourages yes or no answers. Make sure your questions are direct and specific. You may need to reformulate your questions to get the answers you’re looking for. Finally, don’t be afraid to ask “what else” to continue to get the whole picture.
After you gather this critical information, make mental or written notes of the information you will present based on this interaction. This will also aide you in negotiating terms and pricing.
Present solutions to each of your customer’s pain points. Let your customer know that you heard them and empathize.
Finally, ask for a commitment. It is the most important question to ask. Once you get a commitment (can be any commitment not necessarily a purchase), make sure to establish next steps and a follow up plan with your customer.
Follow up and Follow Through
You’ve mastered your pitch, you’ve found your customer, and had a great meeting by asking great questions. Don’t drop the ball when your interaction is over. The difference between a great sales person and an average one is follow up and follow through. A major part of sales is relationship building and trust. Someone will buy from you if they trust you. So how can you earn trust?
Do what you say and deliver. If you promise to follow up with additional information your prospect requested, make sure you stick to your word. Follow up with whatever you agreed to within three days. This way it’s still fresh in your client’s mind and it keeps their excitement going.
Bonus – Repoire
Most of you have heard the phrase, people buy from people they like. There is a lot of truth to that and a reason why it’s repeated everywhere.
We’re not all blessed with an engaging and dynamic personality but if you’re choosing the path of entrepreneurship, you’re probably a passionate individual. For those of us that need a little help, there are methods you can use to get people to like you.
“How to Win Friends & Influence People” by Dale Carnegie, is a great book and resource on methods that can be effectively learned and practiced. Some of the methods that are reviewed: not criticizing, showing appreciation frequently to others, smile, remember someone’s name…
Repoire is not talked about enough anymore with all of our modern sales methods but I feel that it can give you an edge over your competition.
Just like everything else I’ve written about in this post, practice makes perfect.