Here’s 14 top sales tips to help you along; Why 14? Because life in sales is rarely as simple and predictable as a top ten!
You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great – Zig Ziglar
Take action, do something, anything that works in any way towards your sales goals. Pick up the phone, knock the door, send the email, network and tweet or speak at a business event. Often the most challenging part of going to the gym is getting off the sofa and putting down the crisps – once you’ve started though it’s never as bad as you thought and afterwards you feel great! So stop being a noun and be a verb, take action and take the first step, you’ll find that all along it wasn’t as bad as you thought and you might even enjoy it. Just a moderate amount of sales activity through the day will quickly get you results and your skills will increase rapidly along with your confidence.
Don’t be afraid to sell – be proud and sing it loud!
If you want to be successful in business or your sales role it seems flippant to say but you’ll have to sell. So, don’t hold back. Yes, you are there to do business, to sell your goods and services and to help people achieve their goals and desires. If you try to hide the fact you are selling or sell covertly and suddenly spring a pitch on people you will immediately break rapport and lose trust. Without these two things there is no sale to be made. People often act coy and nonchalant when approaching prospects and try to portray ‘they don’t need the business anyway’. The idea being they make themselves more desirable and don’t appear desperate (even if it’s a Pot Noodle for tea and the mortgage is late). I want people’s business, I want to help them, I want them to buy and I want them to know. If what you sell is genuinely a good idea then sing it loud and sing it proud.
Prepare your sales time
It’s simple to put off what you don’t want to do and there is always a nicer task to undertake than picking up the phone or knocking doors. When I initially started 6th Door from my dining room many years ago I would empty the washing machine, ball socks, mow the lawn and work on my cooking skills before I’d pick up the phone and call prospects. Selling is a more important part of your week than most other tasks though for without selling something – there is no business. So mark out in your diary every week when you are going to dedicate time to making calls, knocking doors, following up, attending relevant networking events and so on. When you are asked to attend meetings or meet for coffee if it conflicts with your designated selling time – “sorry I’m in a meeting then, can we make it next week some time”. Your most important appointment of the week is with yourself to spend time making appointments.
Go where your potential customers go
Networking events can be good fun, mixing with your colleagues and peers, having a drink and enjoying free nibbles. However, remember you are there to build your network with relevant people who may also know relevant people. Many network events are used by organisations as a lunch date, with six members of the same organisation sat together at a table discussing internal issues or how they hate the boss. Choose wisely where you attend (this can be trial and error to start with). There are thousands of fantastic events around the country, research what may be relevant to your goods and services. What geographical location should you be in? Is a room of accountants useful to you when you are a national advertising agency?
Understand what you help people achieve
People don’t buy things they buy what that thing will help them achieve. Gym membership will help you achieve a feeling of health, self-esteem and energy. All these things can boost your productivity, gain you that promotion, help you approach the partner of your dreams and wear the clothes you’ve always wanted. You must understand, believe in and be 100% sold on what you are selling before you venture out to spread the word. What is the ultimate end goal of purchasing your goods or services?
We’ve all encountered ‘sales’ people. Slick, disingenuous sales Wombles who are a legend in their own lunchtime. This is not a swipe at the sales industry. I firmly believe in the UK that the profession of sales is not given the credit, esteem or respect that it should. In many countries to be in sales is recognised as a tough, noble and important role. I’m referring to old sales practices, where sales peoples’ answers are the only thing smarter than their suits and they ooze a self-centric ectoplasm over you leaving a lasting impression of distrust.
Be self-aware, calm down and accept that you may be wrong from time to time. Become genuinely interested in people, their businesses and what makes them tick. Talk how you talk, walk how you walk and quite simply – be nice. There’s enough not nice people out there, make yourself stand out.
Would you like cheese with that Sir? – No thanks
Easy on the cheese. One liners are great, as is a memorable phrase but steer clear of becoming a game show host. Again, the alarm bells of ‘another *****ing sales person’ are easily rung by clicking the guns at people, over familiarity or any other such David Brent style interaction. If you’re unsure how you are coming across in meetings or on the phone video yourself then grab a brew, ten minutes and do some self-analyses. This can be painful to start with, nobody like the sound of their own voice. However, it is the most powerful self-development tool you have and you will develop your skills at a fantastic rate.
If it’s going to be it’s up to me
Sales is a tough game and there are few other roles in the world where your success, wage and longevity of employment are firmly in your own hands. If it’s going to be chicken bling or chicken ding for Christmas dinner is entirely in your hands. This can be daunting, even stressful, and many people can’t cope and leave sales for good. Or, you can embrace this autonomy and control over your own success and take *responsibility (*you have the ‘ability’ to choose how you ‘respond’). Live the mantra “if it’s going to be, it’s up to me!” Respond to situations with boldness and energy, attack challenges head on and work relentlessly knowing that only you can save the day. Don’t look for excuses why it didn’t work (it’s bad data, it’s too hot, my desk faces the wrong way, the economy is bad, it’s nearly Easter/summer/Christmas etc.) sound familiar? Always look for solutions and fight your way forward. The rewards in sales can be huge for those that are willing to continually problem solve, stay positive and work their ass off.
A sale is not a sale until the money is in the bank
You punch the air with glee, they said yes! You’ve hit target and mentally spent your commission to only find a few days later that ‘a situation’ has risen and they can no longer go ahead.
They loved your meeting, they’re thrilled at what you can do for them and now they just need to get your email and they’ll sign the paperwork. Yes! Smashed it! They-are-definitely-going-to-buy! You call them to secure a deposit two days later and are greeted by reception “Oh I’m sorry, they’ve gone on holiday for two weeks”. This is the last you hear from them.
Always get excited by selling and making things happen but be aware, business can be cold and unforgiving at times. Don’t spend until it’s in the bank and don’t bank on it until it’s on the bank statement.
Control your emotion – don’t make long term decisions on short term feelings
The problem you face is rarely the problem in sales, it’s how you react to the problem that is the problem. You may be stressed, tired, angry, skint, under pressure from your manager and desperately needing a sale. All this can lead to emotions running high. Be aware of how you feel, stay in control of how you feel and don’t let the pressure from sales spill out at a prospect. It can take months, even years to get a new client on board and only seconds to destroy all that hard work.
As children we have no trepidation towards asking for what we want or asking why things are a certain way. As we get older the confidence, nerve and ability to simply ask seems to fade away. If you want something, you’re never going to get it without asking and prospects are VERY rarely going to hand it to you on a plate. If in doubt – ask. The very worst that can happen is you find exactly why the prospect is not in a position to buy and that is simply an obstacle for you to over-come or re-visit your preposition to them and make changes.
Return calls, return emails, please, thank you, I appreciate that, that’s very kind, wipe your feet, be on time for meetings or phone calls (be five minutes early, on-time is five minutes late).
Work your ass off!
Sales is the worst paid easy job in the world and the best paid hard job in the world. You can (for a while) get away with window staring, skiving at home, not prospecting and shuffling papers but your sales results won’t lie. You’re only as good as your last results and all the scores go back to zero at some point. Be the first in and the last out, prepare, research, knock doors, pick up that phone, nurture your social media networks and be relentless. The rewards can be great and the recognition (if that’s your thing) can be nice to have. The biggest change in sales I have noticed in the last decade is a decline in call times, appointments being sat and doors being knocked. This may be down to the advent of social media ‘selling’ and new, more streamlined sales practices and I embrace progress whole-heartedly as long as it is progress. But there are also many more distractions than ever before that can keep your focus away from the actions of actually selling and fool you into thinking you are being productive. There is only one KPI that counts – sales. Keep your focus on that and graft. “The harder I work, the luckier I get” – Samuel Goldwyn We could all do with a bit of good luck now and then eh!
If you’re not happy sales can be a dark, dark place. Remember, if you don’t make the sale nobody dies, the world keeps spinning and the sun comes up tomorrow for you to start again. You can never lose, you either win or you learn – and keep on learning. Study language, human behaviour, psychology, business, finance, poetry; anything that can give you an edge and allows you to feel confident and empowered. Embrace meeting different people, building friendships and helping people along the way. If you can’t make the sale, at least make someone smile today and that includes yourself.