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- Less talk
Most salespeople talk way to much. Legendary salespeople listen 80% of the time. Because people love to talk. The more a customer talks, the more we learn about their needs, the more we get to know them and the more they buy. When I started my career as an entrepreneur I used to listen while biting my tongue. As a way to remind myself to shut up and listen. We hear people say, “thanks for listening”. We almost never hear someone say, “thanks for talking.” I have found, when selling, the more you shut up, the more successful you will be.
Thanks to Christopher Lochhead, Legends & Losers Podcast!
#2- Build genuine friendships
In sales, the most important thing is relationships. Get to know your prospective customers genuinely. Find out their likes, dislikes, interests, and challenges. Take the time to listen to them, and learn what they need. Don't be afraid to invest your time into building genuine friendships. That long-term trust you build will naturally lead to sales.
Thanks to Ryan Sharpe, He says, She says!
#3- Stop selling
People don't want to be sold. They want to be educated and make the decision on their own. Help guide them to the decision, but don't go full-on salesman on them and sound like a used car salesman. Help them understand how your product or service solves one of their problems, saves them money, or saves them time. All of those things are extremely important to business owners, CEOs, and decision makers. And at the end, don't forget the ask. Your answer to a deal will always be no if you don't ask for the sale.
Thanks to Matt Weik, Weik Fitness, LLC!
#4- Demonstrate a regular interest in solving the customers' needs
Provide value to your customer with every interaction. Deeply understand your customer, their goals, and pain points. This requires research and an ability to read between the lines. When you demonstrate a regular interest in solving the customers' needs, rather than what you think they need, customers feel comfortable working with you. For every call, email, and meeting, I ask, Did I share something valuable with this person? The answer needs to be yes every time. It's that simple, and that hard.
Thanks to Biying Miao, Hot Pop Factory!
#5- Give before you get
I find when I make a good contact it sets a foundation for a strong working relationship if you give them something of value before you ask for the order. It can be an article, invitation for a meal or coffee, make an introduction to someone they would enjoy meeting, just show that you value them and want to build a relationship beyond the transaction. When you listen to people and then follow up with a relevant link or idea it shows you care. Exhibiting good manners, respect and humanity to others can go a long way.
Thanks to Paige Arnof-Fenn, Mavens & Moguls!
#6- Add value
I think the best sales tip I’ve got is ‘find ways to add value to a prospects life, when you follow up with them.’ For me with our marketing agency – this means giving them some quick stats on their website, that they may be able to use, and maybe a couple quick ways they could improve their Google ranking, but for every situation it could be different. If you can ADD VALUE, when you follow-up, and find 2-3-4-5 ways that you can always follow-up with something besides ‘have any questions on the proposal’, which can come off as ‘do you have my check’, the more you can actually create rapport, and make people look forward to your e-mails and phonecalls instead of resent them.
Thanks to Tim Brown, Hook Agency!
#7- Two tips
Learn the difference between a Suspect and a Prospect. Too many salespeople cannot be honest with themselves on who can actually make a purchasing decision. If one cannot separate those two types of customers it is very difficult to succeed because of wasted time. A prospect can buy, a suspect can't but will make you believe they can! Secondly, Be a relentless prospector!. Most new salespeople totally underestimate the amount of prospecting it take to maintain consistent results. As time goes by they will reduce the level of time spent on creating new business because their skill level has increased. But the time will come where the supply of available closeable accounts has been reduced with nothing to replace it. The successful salesperson understands that the key to long term earnings is to add accounts to your pipeline daily.
Thanks to Mike Smith, SalesCoaching1!
#8- Integrity is key
Many times, as a salesman trying to sell a product, it’s tempting to nod your head and say, “yes this product fulfills all of your needs”. Better to lead the customer to purchase your product than steer them towards a competitor, right? Wrong. By lying, or failing to be truthful, you're almost guaranteeing that they’ll be dissatisfied by the product, and they'll be likely to go elsewhere for future business. Even it means directing them to your competitors, the prospective customers will appreciate the honesty as refreshing. Only a stand-out company would strive for customer satisfaction at the detriment to their bottom line. If you put the customer first they’re more likely to go out of their way to do business with you. After all having repeat customers is all about their trust in your integrity.
Thanks to Nate Masterson, Maple Holistics!
#9- Be willing to let the sale go
You don't want to force a sale that isn't there. And if you do, depending on what you're selling, you risk your reputation and possible legal action. Go in with the mindset to understand the consumer and see if your product can actually serve them. You'll beat your head in trying to make a round peg fit a square hole.
Thanks to Eric Wilbur, Summit Group!
#10- Pay close attention to your response time
The most important thing that we make our sales team lock in on is their response time. One day, we had a lead come in, and we were really busy, so we didn’t call them back immediately. We thought we’d get back to them in the afternoon. Well, afternoon came around, and we reached out to the lady who had submitted her information. She told us that someone had already come out to look at the house and that they already signed the contract with them. We saw how much the house was sold for, and the investors that beat us to the lead made $25,000 on that deal. You can imagine how strict we are on our response times now.
Thanks to Shawn Breyer, Breyer Home Buyers!
#11- Look for Patterns in Your Current Accounts
One of the biggest mistakes I see startups make is going after the customer they want to sell to and not the customer who actually needs their product. If you want to figure out who your ideal customer is, you need to take a hard look at your current accounts. Start by organizing them all in a spreadsheet. Jot down the industry, location and size (# of employees) of each company. If you don’t have this data, you should be able to find it online. Once you’ve gathered that information, you can look for similarities among in your accounts. For example, maybe three or four of your best customers are restaurants on the East Coast with less than 50 employees. If that’s the case, you want to start targeting businesses who fit that profile. Your product obviously provides a solution they need so you can assume that similar businesses might need your service, too.
Thanks to J. Ryan Williams, SalesCollider!
#12- Know when and where to ask the question
For all you romantics out there, the most important question might just be “Will you marry me?” But for anyone with a sales quota, the most important question is the one where you ask for the sale. What’s so interesting is how many people are afraid to ask that final question – the one where the client answers, “Yes, I would like to work with you.” So how* do* you ask for a sale? Direct: Would you like to take that home with you today? How much can I put you down for? Can I add this to your cart? Are you ready to sign a contract today? Would you like fries (substitute any add-on you like) with that? Indirect: What needs to happen for us to work together? How will this decision be made? Is there anything stopping you from purchasing?
Thanks to Kim Fredrich, Kim Fredrich LLC!
#13- Move to physical conversations
My best sales tip is to transition to physical conversations as soon as you can and stop trying to sell through words alone. Too many people today are trying to sell through cold social media and email outreach alone—these are decent places to start, but you should transition to phone, Skype, or in-person meeting as soon as you can to really deepen your connection with prospects. It’s a lot easier to establish trust and rapport through physical conversations than text alone. Adding a physical element really stands out, and it’s becoming rarer these days.
Thanks to Matt Rosenblum, Advanced Life Coach Marketing!
#14- Believe in your product
My best sales tip is to make sure you believe in the product you are selling. A customer or potential client will be able to sense if you are not confident in what you are selling. Along those same lines show the customer you really care about them and their potential business. People tend to respond to others that genuinely show interest in them. So although there are many tips out there that intend to trick the customer and they may work sometimes, people can usually see through those type of interactions.
Thanks to Andrew Rawson, Traliant!
#15- Know your customers' needs
In sales it's really important to know your client/customers needs and cater your sales pitch towards those needs. Try to find ways to show them how your product/services will benefit them and fill a need the currently have or might have in the future.
Thanks to Bijan Abdi, Freedom National Insurance Services!
#16- Use CRM
By far, the most valuable sales tip I can share is using a CRM. We embed our best sales processes, that leads our sales team thru every customer interaction. We use templates to simplify otherwise complicated processes. By automating many tasks, we have reduced our administrative overhead. Most of all, I easily stay up to date on all sales interactions with our team thru CRM shared calendars, document templates, and e-mail integration, uniting all team members and keeping everyone up-to-date. Sharing selling patterns and processes allows our salespeople to see what works best and increases communication between the sales team and sales management.
Thanks to Ian McClarty, Phoenix Data Center, LLC.!
#17- First establish friendship
The best sales advice I can give to anyone looking to get into sales is to find common ground with the client. Buying a product or service from a friend is easier than buying from a stranger. How you do this effectively is by running parallel conversations at the same time, one discussion about the sale, and one about mundane things that are interesting to both of you. When one conversation starts to become dry, quickly transition to the other, in order to keep the conversation interesting. It is similarly important to just listen to what the client is saying, people naturally want to talk about themselves, and appreciate being heard. Listening also allows you to find topics that interest them to talk about. Wait until you hear the client bring up a topic you know a lot about, and start discussing that topic. The goal is to never push your sale before the friendship is established.
Thanks to Akiva Leyton, Falcon Marketing LLC.!
#18- Be specific
Be very clear in defining the target customer and understanding their needs. A great place to start is by looking at the demographics of your customer base — gender, age, income level, geography, education level, etc. This will give you a sense of who they are, what motivates them, what unmet needs they might have, and what their primary pain points are. Understanding this information will help you develop a more effective sales pitch that addresses those needs and ultimately is more compelling to the customer.
Thanks to Mike Grossman, GoodHire!
#19- Be human
Have empathy. There's nothing worse for a customer than to feel they are part of some no-soul corporate entity. When it comes to sales, show empathy, personality and human traits. Wether it's online or face-to-face, focusing on the customer and understanding their needs on a human level. Make them feel part of the company and the journey the company is on. I've built a base of extremely loyal customers by simply being myself, being human and interacting with potential and previous clients at their level.
Thanks to Scott Flear, Rugby Warfare!
#20- Stop being so salesy
While this might sound counter-intuitive, I noticed a huge uptick in conversions when I started interacting with new leads in a more casual tone. As a co-founder of a content marketing company, it takes effort to refrain from nudging clients to get started on a project. If you're offering a truly valuable service, it feels like you're doing a *disservice* to your prospects by not encouraging them to take action immediately. What I didn't initially realize when I started my business, however, was that this passion for serving clients can sometimes be misconstrued as over-selling… which is often accompanied by a lack of trust. So, while I'm still equally as passionate and eager about helping my clients achieve their content marketing goals, these days I tend to interact with new leads as if they were friends seeking advice, versus professional contacts seeking formal quotes. This shift in mindset has been producing consistent dividends in my sales process so I'd strongly recommend it to any entrepreneurs or sales people, regardless of your industry!
Thanks to Dylan Bridger, Drawbridge Growth!