Life is a continuous sales pitch. Whether you’re trying to convince your partner to do the dishes for you, convince your boss to give you a raise, convince your team to adapt a new process or sell an actual project or service, understanding how to sell is necessary, but it doesn’t have to be difficult.
In business, there are many times you have to take on a sales role as well, even if it is not your main job. Perhaps you are scaling and haven’t hired a sales team yet or perhaps, it’s just developing your power of persuasion within the company.
Whatever your need, knowing how to listen, solve problems and persuade in a way that is not pushy, elicits respect and can help you achieve great personal gains. And don’t worry, your “non-salesiness” can actually be a strength.
In this article, we’ll examine not just six tips to sell, but a process on how to prepare, what to say and how to handle objections so that your next “sale” will be a success.
1. Making Contact
In today’s world of digital marketing, it is important not to leave all of your contact to the virtual world. It is a great tool to leverage, but should not be your only approach. Face to face networking should be a part of your approach, whether it’s hosting a meetup for professionals at your office once a month, attending local networking events or calling a new acquaintance you met at one at those events to have coffee, these interactions can snowball into new business relationships, referrals and can provide opportunities for others as well - so think of it as karma building. Also, before you even sell, face to face meetups can provide you with incredibly valuable feedback about your service, product or idea.
2. Preparing for the Pitch
Whether you're selling an idea, a project, a product, or even a job in your organization, you must enter that situation with an expert understanding of your audience, and what they care about. Know who your audience is and make sure it is they key stakeholder - the person with the most power to make the decision you are seeking.
Understand what it is that drives your audience and how what you are “selling” can help that person accomplish their goal or agenda. Make sure you are speaking the right language. For example, a Harvard business grad or CEO may not want to hear, “I can make you a lot of money” but rather, “By doing A, B and C, I can contribute to the growth of revenue by X, Y, and Z and gain traction in these aforementioned areas.”
Determine what is that you’re actually selling, and before you pitch how you can improve something, make sure you can by learning everything possible about the current product or process, before you suggest yours.
3. The Big Meeting
When you finally get to the place where you are ready to pitch, and you are standing face to face with your client or audience, it’s time to listen. Sales experts at Sandler Training recommend the 70/30 rule - listen 70 percent of the time and talk 30 percent. If the client wanted a generic list of services they would have gone to your website. A meeting is about conversation, and it’s more about helping them buy, than selling. This is where you inexperience with sales is a good thing. Remember what it’s like to be a buyer and ask questions: What are their challenges and needs? What solution are they really looking for?
Don’t just drone on about the features of your service or product, focus on the benefits of what is in it for the client.
“For example, saying that Taskworld makes you organize your projects faster is not as powerful as saying that Taskworld saves you two hours of work every day.”
If you understand how your service or product solves your client’s challenges and can explain the benefits and unique selling proposition, the client can discover that they really do need what you are selling.
To support your claims, go one step further and share a use case or example of how your product or service helped another client, ideally backed up by data. Finally, watch body language. If people start to look bored or move their hands and feet a lot, then you need to finish, or move onto the next part of your pitch.
4. Dealing with Objections
Objections are not a wall, they are a door. If the client is stating concerns, it means they are actually considering buying what you are selling. This is not a definite "no", rather it’s an opportunity to belay their concerns and fears and reassure them to move forward with confidence
When your audience presents an objection, ask questions. For example, if the client says, “This is too expensive to implement right now.” You may say, “How much does it cost to continue to deal with the issues or problem? How much would it cost over the next year?” Or say, “You are right. It is expensive but how about beginning with one department to test how much productivity improves?”
By approaching objections with questions, you find out where the real concerns are and work with the client to find a solution or reason why what you’re selling is an improvement.
5. Closing the Sale
Very often, you will not get a decision the day of your meeting or pitch. Give your audience the time they need, without pressure, but make sure you do get a commitment on a date or time to speak again. A communication commitment greatly improves your chance of success and could give you time to go back and answer any unanswered questions or tailor your pitch.
“If you find out from the meeting that your product or service may need more work or simply is not a good fit with the audience, don’t push further."
Withdraw gracefully and this could keep the door open for future meetings. The person will be more receptive the next time you speak with them, knowing you gave them your time without expectation.
6. Following Up
If you do manage to close the sale or if you didn’t but pleasantly retreated, following up a few weeks later is a great way to build rapport. Read more about the importance of thank you in business and how to develop reciprocity by reaching out. Once you thank the person, asking for introductions or referrals for other business or an online or Linkedin review of you or your product, is a fantastic way to grow your business exponentially.
In addition to following up, make selling a part of your routine and a routine on your team. It doesn’t take thirty calls a day to have big returns. Rather, contact your network for one introduction per day. It takes just five minutes but can lead to enormous growth. One introduction asked for per day is 250 per year. If only twenty percent of those 250 introductions convert to business, a realistic number, that is fifty new pieces of business!
It is quite okay if sales is “not your thing” - use it to your advantage. Network and make face to face connections, prepare, listen and try to be helpful in solving problems, reassure your client or audience, commit to communicate again and follow up.
Making sales a part of your day and what you do by having conversations instead of pushing makes the process much more enjoyable and mutually beneficial. You don’t need to be salesy or pushy, you only need to be open. So get out there and start “not-selling” and see where the road takes you!
Organizing a sales project? Use Taskworld to get your team on board, assign tasks, chat and share files.