Brian Tracy, president of Brian Tracy International in Solana Beach, California, is the author of several sales books, including Advanced Selling Strategies: The Proven System Practiced by Top Sales People (Simon & Schuster, $14, 800-223-2336). His sales secrets for first-time entrepreneurs are:
1. Sell benefits, not features. The biggest mistake entrepreneurs make is in focusing on what their product or service is. Rather, it's what it does that's important, says Tracy. "A health-food product contains nutrients that are good for the body. That's what it is. What the product does is make the customer thinner, more energetic, and able to accomplish more with less sleep," he explains. "Always concentrate on how your product will benefit your customer."
2. Sell to the people most likely to buy. Your best prospects have a keen interest in your product or service and the financial resources to purchase it. They are the ones who will buy most quickly. "If you're selling photo-copy machines, don't try to sell to people who have never bought one before," Tracy suggests. "Sell to those who already have one, or to those you know would be interested in buying one. Show them how yours is superior."
3. Differentiate your product. Why should a customer buy from you and not from your competitor? Tracy suggests coming up with at least three features that will give a customer reason to buy from you. "People don't like to go out of their comfort zone to try something new. So, give them three good reasons to try your product," Tracy explains. "Your product or service, for example, works faster, is less expensive, and has a higher-quality level of ingredients."
4. Get face to face. Spending huge sums of money on print-media advertising or direct mail is one of the least effective ways for first-time entrepreneurs to build up their business. There is no shortcut to the personal approach. Get one-on-one with your customer--if not in person, at least by phone.
5. Focus on the second sale. Nearly 85 percent of all sales are produced by word of mouth. "They're the result of someone telling a friend or associate to buy a product or service because the customer was satisfied," says Tracy. Therefore, concentrate on developing future and referral business with each customer. "Everything you do must be aimed at the second sale. Ask yourself: Will this be such a satisfactory experience that my customer will buy from me again or tell his friends?"