Basic Business Cents
Ten Keys to Successful Selling
Looking for clues for why some salespeople are successful and others are not is an interesting study. Some are extroverts but some are introverts, some are glad-handers and some are serious. Some are highly intelligent but some are not. Some are deep and some are shallow. The only common characteristic I have found over the years is perseverance or tenacity. The really good salespeople get focused on a possible sale and put all their energy into finalizing it. However, the study did reveal some important characteristics that contribute to success in the field of sales.
- 1. Do your homework. Study your market, competition, products, services, and your prospects. Anticipate questions, objections, applications, areas of interest and importance, and history. Prepare for the expected and the unexpected.
- 2. Maintain a positive image. Your personal grooming and appearance are important. Remember the old saying, “You only have one chance to make a positive first impression.” Be confident but not arrogant. Enthusiasm and self-confidence build trust with the prospect and that is extremely important to closing the sale.
- 3. Focus on the decision maker. Start at the top. If the top executive of the prospect firm is not the key decision maker, he/she will refer you to the right person and now you come referred by their boss, which automatically puts you in a more respected position. Spending time with people below the decision maker is probably a waste of time and effort because they cannot say yes and can only ask you for more information, over and over.
- 4. Listen. This may be the hardest for salespeople to learn. If you listen carefully enough, the prospect may tell you what he/she wants to hear to close the sale. Many inexperienced salespeople are so enamored with their product/service knowledge that they proudly ramble on and on and bore the prospect.
- 5. Sell benefits, not features. We hate to think prospects are selfish people but in truth they care more about what your product/service can do for them as opposed to how you do it. In order to focus on key benefits, you have to have done your homework as identified in step 1 above. This importance of selling benefits can be verified by studying brochures from highly successful organizations and you will note they stress benefits and not their approach. Struggling organizations’ brochures on the other hand will be full of boasting about their features and ignore why they are important to prospects.
- 6. Ask for the order. Observe body language and listen for opportunities for trial closings. Don’t oversell! When the prospect says yes, say thank you and move on.
- 7. Stay the course. As stated in the first paragraph, this is the one common trait observed in successful salespeople. Don’t give up. Your prospect may just need a little more time to make a decision or waiting to see if you really believe what you are saying.
- 8. Follow-up. Repeat sales are the easiest to make. Maintain contact with your customers.
- 9. Network. Ask customers of their thoughts as to whom else you should be contacting. Get involved with community, industry, and trade organizations. Your network list is probably the most important asset you might have. Build, nurture, use, and protect your list.
10. Communicate. Regularly communicate with your key customers and prospects articles of value to them. This also ties back to item 1 about doing your homework. Make use of electronic communications like email, FaceBook Friends, blogs, etc. Keep your name in front of key prospects and customers.
There are few barriers to successful selling that cannot be overcome with following the basic success keys listed above. Embrace them and they will be your invisible friends in your sales activities.