As an occupation, sales is not for everyone. Becoming great at it requires a willingness to put yourself out there, learn the ropes and to be consistent and persistent. But if you can master these skills, you can make quite a bit of money.
At the core of any salesperson worth his or her salt is the ability to connect with people and form relationships. Good salesmanship begins with a sense of perspective about where the client is coming from and what their needs are. It ends with the skills outlined below. Although they appear to be simple, they take quite a bit of time to master, but they can benefit anyone interested in making a good living in sales.
1. Make Eye Contact
Some of the best salespeople spend the majority of their time cultivating great relationships with their clients. Once you forge a strong bond with a client, it will be harder for that client to leave your business. Be mindful of your body language. For example, eye contact is one of the most important components of body language when meeting someone new and forming a relationship.
As Carol Kinsley Goman of Forbes.com explains, “Most of us are comfortable with eye contact lasting about three seconds, and prolonged mutual gaze without breaking can make us nervous. But when we like or agree with someone, we automatically increase the amount of time we look into his or her eyes.” Having great eye contact can help with that initial relationship and get you better prepped for closing the sale.
2. Smile When Entering a Room
This may seem a little obvious, but there is something incredibly compelling about a person who smiles as they enter a room. It puts the rest of the room at ease and immediately creates a more friendly and relaxed atmosphere. It is important to keep in mind, however, that if you employ this simple technique, you will have to make sure the smile is genuine.
3. Become a Great Listener
No one likes to feel that they aren’t being listened to. One of the biggest mistakes a salesperson can make is to not listen to his or her client. It’s very easy to dominate a conversation, so be aware of this. As a salesperson, you need to hear and understand exactly what your client’s needs are, even if you think you already know what they are. They’ll feel like you’re truly listening if you let them express their own needs instead of expressing it for them.
4. Ask Thoughtful Questions
Of course, you can start off with pleasantries, but when you get down to the real conversation, you want to ask thought-provoking questions. These would be open-ended questions that go beyond a yes-or-no answer, so you should practice those good listening skills and really find what the problem is and how you can offer a solution.
5. Focus on Solving the Client’s Problem
You may have tens of thousands of solutions up your sleeve when it comes to being a salesperson. However, all clients are not created equal, especially when it comes to their problems. Sure, there may be similarities, in which you may be able to offer the same solution to a few different clients, but your focus should be on solving the problem in front of you. This also means you should not try to apply a half-relevant solution to a problem solely to expedite a sale. If you find that your suggested solution does not solve their issue, the right thing to do is to be honest and figure out a different way to help them. Letting go of a short-term sale will probably be worth it, as the client will see it as a thoughtful act and will appreciate the lack of pressure. This type of relationship building will hopefully result in a sale down the line.
6. Describe the Product’s Benefits, Not Its Features
It can almost become routine when you start describing the products that you or your company offers. But once again, you want to focus on solving the client’s problem. Describing the benefits of the product (versus the product and its features) lets you draw a direct connection between your client’s problem and how your product or service will solve it. This will put you in a very strong position to close the sale and conduct a successful negotiation if one is required.
7. Ask for the Sale Directly
It’s not rocket science. You have to be able to ask for the sale directly if you want to be a successful salesperson. Be confident and direct, and be okay with the possibility that you may get turned down. Be prepared to handle objections, and try your best to deal with them directly. You can create a list of concerns before every meeting or call, or you can get other colleagues to help you prepare a single useful list for the entire sales staff to use. Once you have this list, come up with talking points to counteract those objections.
Selling pervades almost every aspect of our business lives, whether we are salespeople or not. We are always trying to prove ourselves to those around us, and in the process, we do our best to form lasting and powerful relationships with people we value. For the ones who do venture into a sales role, they will need a lot of courage and persistence. You won’t be able to close every single sale that you come across, but over time, you can get better at being a great closer.