Sales is the lifeblood of any organization. You don’t have to like it, but sales is one of the essential skills and actions entrepreneurs need to have successful ventures. While a lot of people shy away from sales, we asked some entrepreneurs and business owners for their tips or advice when it comes to sales.
#1- Several tips
I'm both a business owner/entrepreneur and have been in sales for the past 17 years as a financial advisor recruiter. I've made thousands of sales calls both warm and cold. Beyond my rule of don't have an in-box and call people back promptly, my advice for calls is to be direct and be yourself. I know a lot of people give a fake name or have a pitch they use – and know the person on the other line knows this. I do have a ‘pitch' but I'm warm and respectful to whomever I'm calling and given the chance, I like to connect with people. I don't like to have my time wasted and I give people the same respect, which has resulted in much success financially and also being one of the most respected recruiters in my industry. If I'm meeting with a client in person, I wear something powerful that makes me feel great and oftentimes, I listen to one of my latest ‘theme songs' to get me motivated and energized (anything from Bruno Mars 24 K Magic to Cold Play's Something Just Like This). This is also important for cold calling – if you feel yourself becoming flat and robotic – change the energy by moving or simply make yourself smile while you're talking. Being a great phone persona is as important as being impressive in person.
Thanks to Elizabeth McCourt, McCourt Leadership Group!
#2- Don't sell, educate
My best sales tip is actually not to sell at all, its to educate. No business owner wants to be talked at, and trying to sell a product or service by rambling about why its so great will almost never close a deal. Instead, demonstrate value by educating them about your product or service – WHAT it is, WHY they need it, and HOW it will improve their bottom line. Focus your efforts on educating first and the sales will follow.
Thanks to Adam Binder, Creative Click Media!
#3-Sales success is relationship building
A widely recommended and commonly misunderstood technique for sales success is relationship building. Research by the CEB, shows that while the approach is somewhat effective, it is not the most effective method. Here's why, as a CEO or manager I don't need another friend, I need a professional. I need someone who knows their offering, knows their competition and is willing to take the time to understand my needs. All this before making a recommendation. Best technique: know your stuff, get to know my professional needs then make your best professional recommendation.
#4- Learn about your prospects
If you learn something about your prospect, you will be far better positioned to make a good impression, and ask the right questions that get them talking. It’s so important to make that connection and get the prospect comfortable with sharing their problems and goals with you, because if they don’t, you can’t map your solution to their pain. When you are a buyer, you can tell if someone has done their homework about you and your organization. It makes people feel like they are a better fit for you and you are a better fit for them if you’ve taken the time to understand them. However, stay away from being too ‘personal’ or ‘stalky’. Do your homework on their organization, their professional background, the trends in their industry. But don’t mention that you figured out where their child goes to school by looking at them on Facebook. In general, the information people have on Linkedin is in play here. Facebook is generally not.
Thanks to Steven Benson, Badger Maps!
#5- Avoid Cold Calling
Nobody should be making cold calls! Instead you need to do some research to warm the call up. You want to be able to answer the question How does my solution help the prospect deliver on its key initiatives for the year? To answer that question, review annual reports and press releases that announce what initiatives the company plans to undertake. The conversation needs to open with how you can assist address that problem, not a company intro or product overview. That is a secondary issue. Stay focused on solving issues for the customer. Alternatively You might frame the conversation around what you have done for their competitor to save them time, money etc. Everyone is always interested in what the competitor is doing to gain an advantage.
Thanks to Steve de Mamiel, The Mongrel Method!
#6- Social selling techniques to build relationships
Use social selling techniques to build relationships with prospects and cultivate brand awareness on a personalised level. Social media profiles for your prospect, their company channels and website can give you a wealth of information to craft thoughtful and personalised messages and insights, which will help you develop a deeper understanding of their needs, allowing you to build qualified and valuable connections.
Thanks to Dawn Gribble, Virtual Solutions!
#7- Go into call thinking to solve problems
My best sales tip is to go into the call thinking of it as helping someone problem solve. Generally before the call, I learn as much about their company as I can so we can dive more quickly into their specific problem. Then I try to listen with an open mind and consider ways to solve their problem. Sometimes the answer isn't our services — maybe there are other areas that they need to address first or maybe we're just not a good fit. However when it is something in our realm of expertise, I'll brainstorm with the client and work through the problem together. This makes the call itself helpful, regardless of who works with us in the end. We work in a small niche and ultimately making our sales calls about relationship-building rather than closing a deal means we build trust and even people who end up not working with us often will refer others to us.
Thanks to Larissa Pickens, Float Design!
#8- Engage with Clients
As a service based business, the sale is strongly based on the clients perception of your service, your brand and the conversation/consultation about their needs. My conversation process starts with a consultation that is scheduled on my website and the scheduling process is automated! Right from the start, it feels easy for the client to engage with me. I am also able to obtain information from them so that I can do some pre-work for the consultation. The automated scheduling system sends 2 to 3 email reminders AND a follow up email the next day. This by far is my best sales tip because the client feels engaged during the consultation process and the automated reminders and follow up makes the entrepreneur's life easier!
Thanks to Sharvette Mitchell, Mitchell Productions!
#9- Ask relevant questions
I try to find connections to the person with whom I’m meeting. I look at profiles and try to determine if we have former companies in common, maybe former colleagues and/or friends. I also look at their history – schooling, former companies, etc., – so that I can ask relevant questions. People love to talk about themselves and the more I know, the better equipped I am to have a good discussion and to engage with the person or potential partner with whom I’m meeting.
Thanks to Deborah Sweeney, MyCorporation!
#10- 12 immutable laws of velocity sales
1. Be a Playmaker 2. Have More Conversations 3. Have Better Conversations 4. Sprint Between Conversations 5. Be Pleasantly Persistent 6. Build Rapport Virtually 7. Qualify Your Lists 8. Leads Have Need 9. Run Cadence Plays 10. Compelling Sales Content 11. Specialization is a Team Sport 12. Manage to Leading Indicators
Thanks to Ken Krogue, InsideSales.com!
#11- Stop selling and LISTEN to your client
Most salespeople talk too much and listen too little (kind of like a bad date). Have some killer questions for your client, ask them, and then shut up…even when you're tempted to say something, pause for 3 seconds (to make sure your customer is finished)… For example, Mr. Customer, what could stop us from doing business? Or How does this problem affect you, personally? Or That's a great question, why did you ask? These types of DIRECT questions (asked respectfully) will separate you from your competitors…along with you listening intently to their answers.
Thanks to Michael Bremmer, Telecomquotes.com!
#12- Prepare documents before meeting prospective clients
Before a meeting with a prospective client, I always prepare a document. The document includes their company, the industry they are in, and any business information I can gather from various sources such as Hoover's or other databases that I see of value to the meeting whether it relates to the client's company or industry. I relate the gathered information to how my company's product can help their business, and drive the meeting by following the structure of the prepared document. I print an extra copy for them to have as well. The feedback I have received on this technique has always been positive. Most are surprised when a salesperson in the Internet industry digs deep to help and explain where the product or service can help their business, rather than just throwing the product or service at them and having them figure it out.
Thanks to Justin Nowroozi, OWDT!
#13- Three tips
1). Never sound as if you are selling. Always take a more consultative approach as opposed to a hard sell strategy. People respond better to people trying to help them than the car salesman trying to get a quick commission.
2). Take your customer or client into the ditch. It sounds grim but when you tell them about the low sales figures , inability to hire great talent etc, you are emotionally framing the sale. Then you simply offer a way out (your solution).
3). Trial close to see if you have a green light. Ask questions like, how does that sound?, wouldn't that make things easier? and I'm sure you would be under less stress if you did that right? The key is to get them saying yes multiple times in a short period of time.
Thanks to David Lowe, Qwerky!
#14- Learn all there is about potential clients
I feel one of the best things you can do is learn all you can, about your potential client. Learn what motivates the, what it may be about your product or service which will appeal to them most. Then, in your presentation, concentrate on that aspect. The prospect may be about quality, saving money or maybe even saving time. If you speak in their language of what's going on in their head, you will have a much better chance of connecting with them and locking the deal.
Thanks to Todd Jirecek, Bully Max Dog Food!
#15- Make it easy for people to pay you
Never make it difficult for someone to pay you. Many sales organizations don't consider the impact unnecessary paperwork, overly-complicated contracts or limited payment options have on their ability to close deals. Find as many flexible ways to accept and structure payments for your potential customers; it's likely to win you more deals and helps build customer loyalty.
Thanks to Matt Hottle, Redhawk Consulting!