Selling is among the hardest, most satisfying, most depressing, most lucrative, and most grinding jobs on the planet. Everyone knows it takes persistence, sweat, drive and ambition. But not every small business owner or entrepreneur believes they can do sales. Many avoid it as much as possible, treating it as a painful task, like getting a cavity filled.
That attitude is potentially killing your business. The good news is, you can change it and realize that you—yes, even you—can sell anything to anyone by cultivating these five simple skills.
“A lot of people think sales is about talking, but it’s really about listening,” says Dawn Williams, President and Sales Recruiter at Sirius Personnel. “The most successful sales people I’ve ever recruited are also the best listeners.” Nabil Sfeir, a corporate account manager at Insight, concurs. “You have to pay attention, especially if you’re on the phone with a potential client,” says Sfeir. “People can tell if you’re multitasking—and that’s a deal breaker. Everybody wants to feel like they’re number one.”
Mollie Garza, Business Development Director at LiveIntent Inc., is as popular with her clients as she is with her colleagues and friends, because she takes the time to get to know everyone equally. So when it’s time to make a deal, she’s learned enough about her clients to be able to offer them custom-made solutions to their problems. “You have to truly understand who your clients are and what problems you’re solving for them on a continual basis,” says Garza. “If you do your job right, you’ll keep your clients safe from the competition, help them grow their revenues and be someone they turn to for knowledge and advice.”
“Offer solutions to your clients, not products or features,” Nabil says. “And if you discover that your company isn’t the best fit, say so.” Chris Carlin, Senior Marketing & Social Media Manager at The Upper Deck Company, is always impressed with vendors who don’t try to be a one-size-fits-all solution. “If your services aren’t compatible with a brand, recommend someone whose are,” says Carlin. “Not only does this make you a trusted partner, but it can also open the door to future business.”
Oscar Gardner, Sales Director for iMedia Communications, Inc., believes passion drives a sales person to greatness above all else. “Most sales people have the basic skillset for sales,” says Gardner. “But you need a genuine passion for your business to truly succeed. How can you get someone excited about your business if you’re not excited yourself?”
“Having organized sales habits has always been a core part of my approach,” says Will Richards, President and Founder of Financial Research Solutions. “And the number one most important habit you can develop is to mark down in your calendar the exact date and time of your next call with a prospective client,” adds Richards. Scheduling follow-ups helps you keep track of where you are in the sales process and proves to your customers that you have the reliability to be there when they’re ready—and not expect them to be ready when you are.
Every entrepreneur has faced the chilling prospect of having expended an enormous amount of time, energy and money on building a business only to discover that, without a coherent sales strategy, prospects don’t start magically appearing at your door. If you run a business, or hope to, you need to get comfortable with sales—but you don’t need to change who you are. Just develop these five simple skills to win you your clients’ trust. Do that, and success will follow.
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