I once worked as a salesman in an insurance company. And, like most salespeople, I couldn’t meet my targets in the beginning. I noticed however, that certain people in my organization made more sales than all of us put together. So, I got close to some of them and tried to learn their secrets.
Luckily, they were kind enough to let me in. And they taught me that selling is a skill that can be developed, not a special gift one is born with. After following them, I found that my selling improved drastically, and almost immediately. My sales were huge.
So I now believe that like me, anybody can learn the art of selling. But it begins by learning the following secrets:
1. Make continuous learning your personal mission.
I remember catching a ride with one of my sales managers one day. I was surprised that throughout our ride, he never played music, as I would have done were I the one driving. Instead, he plugged in an mp3 and played a particular talk. It was a huge lesson and I followed suit immediately.
To be a sales superstar, you need to learn every day. The future of “selling” belongs to those with an unquenchable thirst for learning, not just for those who work hard.
Make learning a top priority. Invest in books, seminars and audio talks related to sales, and watch your sales skyrocket.
2. Overcome your fear of rejection.
This fear is the greatest obstacle you must overcome if you intend to have a successful sales career. Like most newbie sales agents, I found it affected my selling, too.
Luckily, my supervisor became concerned and taught me that selling was basically a game of numbers. In other words, the more I met people, the more likely I would be to make a sale. That new knowledge fired me up. I started getting new prospects, and when they were not interested in my product, I simply said, “Next!"
To be honest, we are all afraid of something at one point or another. But, to borrow a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson, “If you would be a great success, make a habit throughout your life of doing the things you fear.”
3. Keep your sales funnel full.
All sales superstars at any time have more than enough prospects to work on. To get better results in your sales, make sure you don’t lack prospects. If you must, hire someone to help you generate leads.
Most important, make sure you always get referrals after closing each sale. Lead-generation tools like Bant.io and Hubspot are becoming part of more and more companies that desire to streamline their sales, to save some time.
4. Make your enthusiasm Infectious.
Imagine that a salesman knocks on your door looking tired and worn out. Gazing at you, his eyes filled with disappointment, he pitches you in a whisper. “My organization can help you plan your event," he says. "But then, you don’t really need that, do you? I mean, everybody plans their events these days, except celebrities. You don’t happen to know any celebrity around, do you?”
It will be a cold day in hell before such a salesperson makes a sale.
According to Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon and one of the nation's richest salespersons, rightly said, “One of the huge mistakes people make is that they try to force an interest on themselves. You don’t choose your passions; your passions choose you.”
5. Present yourself as a consultant, not a salesperson.
When I started my consumer goods business, I asked myself what I was selling. I had groceries for sale in my mart, but when I introduced “Home and office delivery services," I realized that what I was really selling was stress alleviation, and a good time-saving option.
Once I understood this, I revised how I approached my targets, who were mainly busy professionals. When I met them, I didn't just start selling my products. Instead, I tried to understand the level of stress their jobs placed on them. I then recommended my grocery home delivery service as a way of helping them reduce stress.
In the same way, you should present yourself as a consultant. Don’t leave anything to chance. Prepare for every sales meeting or call. Dress the part too, and look important. And just as my manager advised me back then, I'd say, take a short-term loan if you have to. Buy better clothes; you could even buy a car with a little down payment. Just make sure you present prospects with the image of a successful consultant.
6. Close the sale.
Many salespeople don’t ask for the sale. They assume that after their sales pitch, clients will take the initiative to pay. In most cases, however, they postpone it. My sales manager always drummed into my ears the words, “Toby, you will always lose 100 percent of the sales you don’t ask for.”
So, don’t make assumptions. Learn all you can about closing a sale. Just make sure you close the sale.