We associate sales skills strictly to people in SALES. Most of the best skills are just communication skills and knowing the psychology of human beings so many tips you may learn can be used effectively in many situations you will encounter in your everyday life.
I try to use what I have learned about sales in every conversation that I have. This could help change the way you talk to people and to get what you are looking for when you need to convince people to give you what you ask for.
I have read many sales books and listened to videos from some of the greatest salesmen and learned a lot from all of them. My feeling is that many of these lessons are not relevant to every person in every industry. So, for example, the sales skills needed to sell complex phone systems are not the same for someone selling life insurance. Nor is it the same for someone selling commercial mortgages or security systems. I also feel that every person has different skills and certain sales tips will be exceptionally good for some but horrible for others. Aside from that many of the “top” books on the market were printed over a half-century ago where the methods of communication and the mindset of people were different. After the internet was around, although many of the principals are the exact same, the rules have changed dramatically and a lot of those great lessons are useless today in my humble opinion.
If you are selling a product that everyone knows exactly what it is like insurance or a service like Roofing materials so then your selling skills does not have to explain the product but rather has to get you in the door and close the deal. But if you are selling R&D tax credits or a new “mousetrap” which requires explaining the product or service then you need a different skill set. In most industries no one would ever dream of starting their job without getting trained and licensed in that field which takes many months or years to accomplish that. When it comes to sales, most people who are “natural salespeople” mistakenly believe that they have the skills to hit the ground running. While the ramp-up period might be much quicker, to become a superstar in sales it pays to learn from others’ mistakes and get trained and to periodically refresh yourself with continued training.
What should you do:
The best investment into a sales career, in my opinion, is to hire a sales trainer to train you specifically for the industry and product you are selling. That person can bring out the best in you and tailor the training to help you succeed in that situation. If you are considering going into sales and want to find out which field would be best suited for you I would research and find someone who has expertise and experience in selling to different industries and products and ask them if they can mentor you to match your skillset with a good fit for you. Find a product or service you have at least some excitement for, even if you don’t love the industry. If you love the potential financial gain but not the product, in due time after saying the same pitch so many times you will probably come across like that, not enthusiastic. Would you want to buy from someone who doesn’t believe in the service they are selling?
I have met many different people from various walks of life and heard many questions on sales and the correct answer to one person’s question in their situation is not the same for others. If you take the time and effort to learn from people who have “been there and done that” you will have an edge over your competition. Giving over the message that you are genuine as a person and passionate for the product will win you deals in many cases. In order for these things to become natural to you, just do it. Keep doing it and make mistakes that will hurt you but will teach you firsthand what separates the good salesperson from the rock star salesperson.
How to communicate with potential customers:
We live in a world today with many different ways to communicate with each other. The list is long but between email, phone, text and Whats App and social media messaging there are many ways to contact someone. What works well for one person doesn’t work well for another. To some a cell phone number is very personal and private and to some it’s perfectly fine to be used to contact them. Many times, email communication is the best way to reach people, but many times prospects are flooded with emails and many have gatekeepers who sift through their emails. The only way to reach them might be through a different mode of communication but if you have not established that they are ok with texting them it could backfire. I believe that one of the most important things to say to a person you meet for the first time is -How do you like best to communicate? Is it ok to text you as a follow up reminder? Which email address should I use to follow up?
Allow me to illustrate this point with a story, Yisroel is a computer programmer who has been doing freelance work and was looking for permanent work and reached out to a company through LinkedIn and the owner was communicating with him through LinkedIn messaging and they made up to meet at a time and place for an informal interview. They met and Yisroel thought the interview went well and he was very interested in pursuing this and a few days went by and he didn’t hear back from him. He passed by me that day and mentioned what happened and asked me if I could look over his drafted email to advise if it was worded well and not too pushy. I looked it over and made a few small comments to tone it down a little but then asked him- “Why is this in an email?” He was wondering what I meant and I explained- This person has been communicating with you via Linkedin messaging and has not shared with you his email address, why are you changing the method of communication with him? He said “Isn’t it more professional to email him?
I told him that normally it is but in this case, he has chosen to speak to you through LinkedIn as it may very well be he separates actual business communication from the hiring process and uses Linkedin for that and that is how he tracks that progress and uses email only for everything other than personal matters and the interviewing and hiring process. Don’t just decide to change things and complicate things. People have their own ways of keeping track of things and it pays to understand that. Just like you would not email someone a business related matter to their personal email address if you have their business one don’t change your method of communicating with a prospect unless they have told you specifically that you could just text or call my cell. If you get a hold of their personal phone number and they are very private about it and you call them randomly do you think they will want to buy from you?
Do not knock the competition ever. If you do have to say something negative about them never refer to them by name because you will come across as that type of person. Only say that the “Competition “is offering an inferior product for example. If you are asked -why should I take your product over ABC Company’s product? Focus your answer on your company’s advantages as much as possible, this way you present yourself as a positive person who doesn’t view the competitor like the enemy. This will build trust and a reason itself for them to buy from you. You should know all the differences between your company/product and the competition and if yours is truly a newer or weaker company then focus on your service and responsibility. You can say -large companies have advantages but if you have a problem do you want to call an 800 number and try to get someone on the phone who you don’t know or would you rather be able to call me directly anytime and get me anytime?
Set goals and keep meticulous notes of every call and person who may be a referral source or a target prospect. Take notes about the Gatekeeper, their name, and their position and the best ways to get through to the decision-maker. If you call and they say “He is in a meeting” don’t show in your voice that you are annoyed and don’t believe her. Instead say- “Sure, I understand and will call back later” but then do just that. Call in the afternoon and ask for Mary by name if she doesn’t pick up and say the following:” Hi Mary, This is James again, I hope you are well, I am sure Barry is always busy but by chance is he in now? Don’t ask Is he still in a meeting because you are giving her a chance to continue that same in a meeting response which may or may not be true. By asking Is he in? you are telling her that you understand this “game” and that same lie won’t work with me so let’s just get this over with. She will hopefully think that you will be calling back until you reach him so she will just put you through and get it over with. You want to give off that message to the Gatekeeper, the way to do that is to keep track of names and times and exactly what you were told by them.