You may not be aware of this, but the most important junctures in your career have some (or lots of) selling involved. When you are selling a product or service to a client, an idea or a proposal to your management or investors, or to your boss, your ability to sell will play a major role in your success.
Irrespective of your field of expertise, sales matter. Selling is the oxygen of a company. It controls the tools that power the company and provide the potential for income. Despite being so critical, sales frequently take a back seat to more glamorous topics. Although creativity, culture, and productivity are essential to success, without selling, you will still end up with a failed organization.
You may not have a formal experience of sales, but know that you have the ability to do the job; you just need to unleash it. You can sell anything to anyone, whether you're extroverted, introverted, outgoing or soft-spoken. There are fundamental principles that you need to recognize and follow in order to sell something to someone. Know them, practice them, and above all, make them exclusively your own by deciding how best to incorporate them into your DNA, your own circumstance, and the goals you'd like to achieve.
In this article, you will get to learn those fundamentals, and if you keep practicing them in your everyday life, you will be able to become a great salesperson like those who you ever admire. Let’s jump right into the details!
Sales 101: How to sell anything to anybody
Sales #1 Principle: Know that sales is a crucial part of life
Selling is a topic worth studying, debating, and accepting throughout your life, because the fact is, whether you are aware of it or not, carefully, that you are in sales. You're a sales guy/gal, and if you're single right now, you need to sell yourself to someone else.
You have to sell yourself if you want to find a partner. When you're going to find a new job, you're going to have to sell yourself to the manager or prospective employer so you can get the job. You have to sell your goods if you're in business.
You have to be able to share your thoughts with others and persuade others to buy into them. If you have a family, if you have friends, if you have a social life, if you have children, you're in sales, and you need to be able to convince other people to your values, to your convictions, to be able to influence your children, and to encourage your children to do certain things.
To a lot of people, there is a negative stigma towards sales and selling. But that is just because they look at sales from the wrong perspective. We all rely on sales to make progress, and those who know how to sell can get the most out of their lives. If you've got a social life, if you're engaging with other people, then you're in sals. The better you will embrace it and acknowledge it instead of withholding negative feelings about it, the better you will be able to learn and improve. Ask yourself, "Okay, I'm in sales and marketing, how can I develop my skill set?"
Sales #2 Principle: Understand that sales is all about win-win
Great sales people practice effective selling. Effective selling is simply meeting the needs of others, understanding what the other person wants, who they are, what their needs are, and then offering solutions to them, helping to inspire them, exchanging ideas, principles, or knowledge, or goods, or services to help improve the quality of life of that person. That's what effective selling is.
It's a win-win for both parties. It's not a win for a sales person to make money where the other person feels ripped off. That's not evil sales. You want it to be win-win for both sides, and to do that a successful salesperson really knows the needs of the person and what's best for them, what can support them with their life and offer a solution to them.
A lot of people don’t get it, but sales is not about the first business, it’s all about repeat business. Great salespeople don’t sweat small stuff like the first business, which is simply an opportunity for them to build a relationship with their customers. Repeat business is where great salespeople make money.
Sales #3 Principle: Do your homework.
Know your client, your stakeholder, your target, whoever you're selling to. Know their positions, their duties and their objectives. Understand as much of what's in it for them as you can. Know your competition and all the potential challenges and obstacles you may have to face.
Before you can fulfill your customer's expectations and formulate your sales pitch to reach them as effectively as possible, you first need to learn as much as you can about the person you're selling to.
Increased sales often involve looking for a specific client if you are making a major sales pitch to a high-profile figure within a business that you can study beforehand. Many times, when you're selling directly to consumers, understanding who you're targeting involves recognizing the target customer for your product and evaluating their needs and desires.
Either way, learning as much as you can about who you're selling to before you even start your sales pitch is important if you want the sales pitch to be as successful as possible. Just as important: know what it's like you're trying to offer. Okay, get it. Whether it's an idea, a commodity, a program, whatever it is, know it inside and out. Even more importantly, know what you sell better than anyone else, especially than those you're selling to.
There's nothing worse than being beaten up by a client, your supervisor, or a VC, because you didn't do your homework and waste their time. I was there. Take it from me; it was really painful.
Sales #4 Principle: Understand Your Customer’s Needs
No matter what you're selling, the most important part of salesmanship is knowing the customer's needs and figuring out how to satisfy them. In almost any situation, a salesperson who focuses on customer service and how a company is able and wants to satisfy the needs of its customers would be much more effective than a salesperson who focuses on the features and requirements of the company itself.
A client may have pain points that your company is capable of alleviating, or they may have wishes that can be satisfied. When you identify the needs of your target consumer and how your company will satisfy them, focusing your sales pitch on fulfilling those needs is by far the best way to close the deal.
Sales #5 Principle: Ask and listen.
I know you have done your homework. You're so excited and enthusiastic that you're chomping on the bit to get it out of here. Don't do it. Here's the explanation. If you do that, you're going to risk coming across poorly. Pushy, guy, just like it's just about you. It's not about you. It's about the men at the table across from you. It's about their needs and goals.
So, ask about their needs and goals. Tell yourself if you can help them. Tell them what their priorities are. Tell them what their problems are. Then listen to them. Ask the leading questions and listen to some more. Keep listening until you have a very clear understanding of the whole picture.
Listen to what really and truly matters to them, too. They might say a lot of things, but if you carefully listen, you'll see what's really in it for them, what motivates them, and what challenges you've got to conquer. It's like cracking a nut. Brute force and all you've got is small bits of nutmeg and eggs. But if you can find the right spot, and crack it the right way, it opens up cleanly. It's a lovely thing. It's the same thing with sales; but it’s not just lovely here, but also very profitable).
Sales #6 Principle: Make a genuine connection
If you have the best product or idea in the world, that's awesome, I'm sure you're going to nail it out there. If not, then go back to this: any business transaction involves a genuine relationship between individuals. It's not always a deep friendship, but it's always a friendship.
To effectively communicate with people, you've got to describe things in a way that resonates with them. If you did your homework, asked the right questions, and listened carefully, you should know what they are looking for and how to address their problems and satisfy their needs.
The best way to get to know their problems and satisfy their needs is: really connect with the person and interact with him or her using metaphors and analogies that break through and resonate with them. Since people are not only motivated by logic and facts, they are also motivated by emotional and primitive needs.
People like to hear about their ideas, features, and performance. They need to hear about the benefits and more about what's in it for them. But when it is said and done, when they make their own choices, it's an emotional bond to stories when things they're going to remember. And that's what motivates them to do it.
Sales #7 Principle: Don’t talk about features, talk about benefits
A lot of people waste too much time trying to sell something and going through the various features. No one cares about the features. The benefits are what they really want. How is this benefit going to help the other individual in any way?
If you can easily express that, and if you can understand what the person's needs are and say, "This product will benefit you in this way" whether their interests, beliefs or family, communicating the benefits will help motivate them much more than the boring features.
If their highest needs are wellbeing, tell them how your product will help them boost their health. If their question, or whatever they're going through, is their career or money, you can recognize it by creating a report and getting to know it, then share how your product will help them profit from it as well.
Sales #8 Principle: Don’t Sell. Help
People you're selling need to see you as someone who's helping them solve a problem with the product you're providing. Bear in mind that one of the key reasons that drive people to purchase a new product is that they are dealing with a problem that they hope the product will fix. It's your mission, therefore, to make sure you're as helpful as possible. If you really strive to be useful when it comes to meeting your customer's needs, your sales pitches would be far more effective.
Sales #9 Principle: Master these six sales-closing techniques
1. Offer a free trial
Let your prospect feel, touch, experience your product. (For online selling, offer them a free consultation, a free 7-day trial, easy returns, etc.) The more time they have spent in getting acquainted with your product, the harder it will be for them to walk away, particularly if they have the product in their hands.
Also, a free trial gives them the confidence that what you're selling is practical and not a second-hand product you picked up on the corner of a street. For example, SaaS goods are the best way to grow a mailing list and customer base is to offer a free trial.
2. Ask your prospect to do you a favor
Benjamin Franklin discovered that if someone does a favor for you, they're more likely to do another, because that's going to be aligned with what they think of you. (The next favor, of course, is to buy from you).
For example, ask the prospect to hold the product for you while you are looking in your bag. This relatively small support has big psychological effects that go back to the point of being nice and developing a trusting relationship.
3. Surprise your prospect with a feature they were not expecting
The prospect strolling through the streets killing time on a Sunday afternoon is longing for entertainment. Your role as a salesman is not just to persuade, but also to do so in a way that's engaging and doesn't sound like a sale. The poorest aspect of a sales pitch is when there are no sound inflections or sudden shifts in emotions (which would typically tend towards optimistic emotions, unless you ask for donations to a charity). A perfect way to keep the conversation lively and stimulating is to tell a story or demonstrate a feature of the product from an angle that the prospect didn't expect. If you can crack a clever joke, that's even better.
5. Provide social Proof (this one is very important):
As humans, we don’t like the risk of taking the initiative, of being the first, because that feels too risky. We’d love to know about other people’s experiences first so that we can know that what we’re looking at is a safe bet to go for. Buying something is often seen as a risky move, because the product might not be as promised by the salesperson. Eliminate that fear by incorporating social proof in your sales pitch; show your prospects how your product has helped other people increase their confidence and make them more likely to make a buying decision.
Sales #10 Principle: Exercise honesty
Your products, ideas or services may not be the right match for everybody, so don't seek to please everybody. Explain the drawbacks of what you're offering, set limits, and don't embellish. Just because someone asks you for a product or service you're not providing right now doesn't mean you need to calm them down by saying yes (although you should let them down politely and go out of your way to refer them to someone else).
Often those extra offers are overwhelming and never turn out to be my best work, and I've learned that people will have more respect for you if you're able to say no. People appreciate integrity, even if you think it could cost you a sale.
People are likely to buy from you if you appear to be trustworthy. Although everybody loves a good "hack," we haven't found a way around this one yet; it's difficult to build confidence overnight. You have to continually prove the credibility and honesty of your company so that customers can buy products from you. Zig Ziglar put it best: “If people like you they’ll listen to you, but if they trust you they'll buy from you.”
The secret to good sales is to think about the person you're selling to. Work your way through their expectations and think about how they feel after your pitch / meeting. There is no such thing as a ‘natural-born salesman’ I’m pretty sure. It takes lots of practice.
Take it from me, everyone can learn to be good at sales, including you! I hope that the ideas and strategies you've learned from this article will help make you a successful salesperson who can sell anything (to anyone who needs it).