I’ve been selling products and ideas for my entire career.
In college, I sold central air conditioning door to door. After college, I sold arts and crafts I had made at street fairs and festivals. Hell, I even managed to sell myself to the girl of my dreams, who later became my wife. We’re all always selling ourselves -- whether we’re on a first date, applying for a job, or trying to land a pitch.
But, for whatever reason, the word “selling” leaves a bad taste in many people’s mouths. It’s a dirty word. I agree, being sold something isn’t always a pleasant experience, whether it’s a pesky retail person who won’t leave you alone in a store or a telemarketer who’s interrupting your dinner. Selling doesn't have to be this way!
Being a proficient salesman is crucial to being a successful entrepreneur. Here are three easy tips to improve your sales game:
1. Don’t be afraid to be yourself, flaws and all. No one has all the answers, and it is better to admit when you don’t. It’s more important to focus on establishing a genuine connection with people than to try to know it all. One of the best ways to connect with your audience is through eye contact. Make sure to give whoever you are pitching your full attention. Listen carefully to what they say.
Don’t forget to be yourself. If you are unable to answer a question, tell them you’ll get back to them. If you aren’t able to help someone or give them what they need, refer them to someone that can. Good salespeople are comfortable in their own skin. That puts others at ease around them.
2. State your purpose up front. Good salespeople are direct. I’ve been in so many meetings where the person making a pitch fails to state their purpose at the beginning of their presentation. After 10 minutes, I still don’t know what they’re talking about. Why are we even here? What can you do for me? These are the questions that need to be answered immediately. Make your introduction short, powerful and emotional.
You must grab the attention of your audience right away so that they listen to the rest of your pitch. All the graphs, numbers and pages and pages of data in the world don’t mean anything if I haven’t grasped the point. If I don’t know why I should even care about the presentation, it’s hard to stay engaged. I shouldn’t have to be doing any analysis. Focus your presentation on how you’re going to help the person you’re selling to.
3. Know your customer. The only way to figure out how you’re going to help someone is to understand them and their business. So do your homework. What problems do they face? Companies are always looking for solutions. If you are able to offer one to a genuine problem -- by saving them money, time or energy, for example -- you won’t have to do much work selling. They’re going to want to buy.
Study up by reading their website and what’s been written about them. If you’re confused about an aspect of their business, clarify that beforehand. You need this information to make a meaningful presentation. You may even want to have a pre-meeting, so your solution or product is as perfectly tailored to their business as possible.
Always remember to follow up after a sales pitch. You must ask for the sale. If for someone reason they’re not interested, ask why. Take the time to understand where their hesitation stems from. Usually it’s because they don’t have enough information. When you ask why they’re not buying, it gives you an opportunity to respond to their concerns.
Once they’ve agreed they want to buy, stop selling. We all have a tendency to oversell. But once you’ve heard those magic words, you’re good.
Copyright © 2013 Entrepreneur.com, Inc.