How to become a good salesman
In our previous blog post we covered what makes customers buy and what's important when you open up your first business in order to make some sales.
This time we will dig a little deeper - here in this post we got some tactics for you that will immediately result in getting first customers and get you results fast.
These strategies work throughout all industries and regardless of what your product is.
Knowing them in and out and adjusting them for your business will improve your front-end selling.
In this article we focused only on the evergreen side.
These strategies have stood the test of time and can be applied right away to bring in new customers, no matter what your current sales situation is.
Why some sales reps might resist selling at first
Many people have never experienced a selling situation before.
Therefore such situations are often accompanied by an unpleasant feeling.
If that sounds like you, it is perfectly normal and comes from one of our basic fears we all carry with us:
Fear of the unknown.
If you do something the first few times it always feels awkward.
We human beings naturally always fear what we don't understand or have no idea about what it will be like.
The easiest way to get rid of any fear is simply to face it.
If you face directly what you fear, it will suddenly disappear and you often ask yourself afterwards what the heck you worried about.
In a selling situation you can not only face your fear to disappear, but you can also learn from it.
If you constantly use your failures as a learning opportunity and perfect the way you sell so immensely that you leave almost no chance for coincidence, you will even be able to predict how many customers you will get.
On this blog alone you will find tons of hacks and tips to improve your performance - and there are countless other resources out there!
That is the purpose of this blogpost as well - to get you from potentially zero in sales with no customers to a professional salesman who constantly brings in new customers.
If you apply those strategies outlined here correctly, you will see your sales going through the roof and much more important:
You will have systems in place that guide you through the jungle of selling and allow you to predict your outcome.
Yes, this is possible and here you will learn how exactly to do just that.
Enough of the introduction, let's dive into it:
Productivity and Time Management
One of the most important traits to learn as a new salesperson is that now you have to manage your time.
For those who have been in “normal” jobs before, this might actually be a little strange at first.
Many sales jobs give you lots of freedom as long as you bring in your numbers:
You can come in late and leave early if you want.
2 hour lunch break? No problem here!
Stay a little longer at the customers office for some small talk? Sure.
The emphasis was on as long as you bring in your numbers.
It is very easy to get distracted, browse social media for an hour or two, engage in some minor activities and find yourself at the end of the day without having done any productive work.
It's not that you haven’t been in the office, or that you are not exhausted at the end of the day. Actually these days can even feel totally stressful.
However, the result at the end of your day is zero.
And well it can happen to all of us, and tomorrow we want to do it better.
But tomorrow one of your colleagues brings in a birthday cake, your phone was rining more often than usual and your boss held a 3-hour meeting.
Looks like not much got done that day either.
While it is relatable, the problem is this:
If you have enough of these days to make up weeks, and enough of these weeks to make months, you will see that your overall sales performance will be about zero.
And that is even though you got up every day in the morning and spent the whole day in the office!
What sounds really unfair is the unproductivity trap many new salespeople fall into.
Jim Rohn said it best:
“Never mistake movement for achievement!”
You can be super busy and present all day long, but in the end if you do not meet your quota you will be in trouble.
This new level of responsibility is unknown for most of the other working professions.
Keep in mind that sales is not like the other professions.
As long as you have enough appointments, and sell enough products - sales can be one of the most liberating and rewarding professions.
However, if you take it too easy and let things slide early on you might not be able to catch up what you are lacking behind.
Be aware that you alone are fully responsible and that you will be held accountable for everything that happens with big commission checks, but also for everything that does not happen such as only base pay in times when you made no sales.
Guard your time and plan your day to make the most important things as soon as you can.
Being busy does not mean being productive!
Selling is a numbers game
“To sell you have to talk to people.
Guess what - there’s lots of people!”
The most important thing about selling to understand is that at its core it is a numbers game.
Whatever your industry or product is, the number of sales and paying customers will always come down to the number of people you talk to.
Why is that?
Let’s look at an example.
To outline this, imagine a room full of 100 people.
Think about asking a question about future buying behavior such as:
“Who is about to buy a car in the next few days or weeks?”
According to the average you will have at least 1 person in the room raise his or her hand.
The same would be true if you would ask a different question like:
“Who is about to buy a new phone?” or “Who is about to buy a house right now?”
This principle works only in large numbers - if you only ask 100 people you might have a bad ratio and have a group with 0 who raise their hand or you might get a group with 8 people raise their hand.
The first 100 might be just a bad fit for your product out of pure coincidence.
But if you would ask 10.000 people or even more, then you will always have the ratio of at least 1 out of 100 looking to buy something, whatever product it is.
The larger your number is to start your questioning, the clearer this ratio will become.
Clearly there will be “hotter” markets where the ratio is even better giving you maybe 5 people out of 100 to work with but to give you a certainty in what you can expect let’s assume only one out of 100 as this ratio will be true even for unpopular products.
We have also covered this phenomenon in more detail in our blog post about The Law Of Large Numbers in Sales.
That means to increase your sales all you have to do is to talk with people about your product, the more you will talk to the more you will sell over time.
And guess what - there’s lots of people out there!
So all you truly have to do is to find creative ways to engage in conversations with lots of people in a valuable, helpful approach.
In the beginning of my sales career I used to wonder what the “top performers” are doing differently than anybody else and why they can sell 10 times more than another colleague, despite the fact that they are also working the same hours and are selling the exact same products.
After all, I was in the same industry - with the same products in the same area, and still I struggled to get anybody as a client in the first place while these top-guys had 10 new customers everys week.
After years of research the answer was always:
They had a creative way of talking to a lot of people in a way that always reinforced the customer´s benefits.
That was what drew the customers to them like a magnet.
Therefore the ultimate formula for sales success is:
Great conversation, beneficial to the customer combined with a large number of people you talk with.
If you find a way to do this and are persistent enough, you will be the guy who can sell a fridge to eskimos.
Because the eskimos will know their benefits from buying and you will be sure that all of the eskimos heard about what you offer.
The law of large numbers will always work in your favor, but will first require you to do the necessary activity on the job.
This is basically your most important duty in sales, as nobody will crawl through the open window in your office waiting for you to arrive and tell you:
“Oh there you are finally, I always wanted to buy one of your products!”.
So large numbers are the key to opening the closed doors of sales success.
And how do you get to your big numbers?
Read on and find out the exact way how to do it.
Believe in your product
Probably the most important cornerstone for any sales career will be if either you believe in your product or not.
I do not mean whether you like your product, or whether you say it looks cool or feels good - I mean if you with all your heart and full conviction are absolutely convinced that this product is for the greater good of humanity and that people must have it!
Usually therefore the product should be of high quality, be designed to fit its purpose and to really help people solve a problem.
If you are convinced it does all that and that people have to hear about it - you will find ways to achieve that.
The essence of sales success starts here.
In contrast, if you know actually that the product is not worth its asked price and will break down soon… forget about becoming successful with it.
Some people find it easier to sell tangible products that you can touch, demonstrate, smell and hear.
Others prefer selling intangibles such as insurance which is basically just an idea.
Whatever your preference is, make sure you stand behind your company and your product to 100%.
If you do not absolutely believe that people should have the product, then you will lack enthusiasm and compassion to enlighten other people about the idea as well.
You have to burn first before you can enlighten others.
In this case your time will be better spent to move on and look for other products to sell until you have really found something you support with all your heart.
Don’t settle for anything less - it will only hurt your sales career and you will be wasting your time.
Find the right way to sell your product
After applying and acknowledging the law of large numbers, the next most important factor is that you understand your products, your market and how things work on this market.
That includes how things get sold.
Every product has its own laws of where it gets sold and how.
And every market will be quite different.
That means you often operate under certain circumstances that can either be a given or that will be perceived as “normal” by customers or competitors.
You would not expect to buy your clothes from a manufacturer in Cambodia, instead you expect to have the next local apparel shop to sell them or to buy them online.
That means those retailers are the place to go for the apparel market as an intermediary.
Or it would be weird to be offered to buy a house in the supermarket - you would either expect a private seller or a real estate agent to show you the offer.
Again on this market we have an intermediary.
However, other markets do not have intermediaries.
Despite these expected distribution channels, that doesn’t mean you cannot disrupt them or try new things in your industry.
But from my experience I can tell you that new forms of “creative selling” things usually require a large budget or a lot of patience, and in many cases both.
If you want to try untested water, keep in mind that the average consumer needs 7 interactions with your product or brand, before he even becomes aware of your existence! Nevertheless, if you manage to break through in a new section of distributing your product the rewards can be enormous.
If you are a more experienced professional in sales you can test and try different things to see what is working ad what is not
I assume here you will be in the beginning of your sales career and would be happy to see any results of sales coming in, so we will look for the path of least resistance here.
And it basically is very easy to find:
just look at what everybody else is doing in your industry.
If your product gets sold through wholesalers or retail, then find a way to get into these distribution channels.
If your product gets sold directly to the consumer, find out how to be present where your customers are.
Or if your product gets sold via the internet mostly, then start an online sales process and sell online.
The common way is usually obvious and my suggestion would be to first try this path for your business and sales career and see how you are doing.
Often this comprehends that your offer will be directly compared to your competition on the marketplace, so make sure that you are really fit to mess with others and be able to win a verbal fight.
To make sure you know how to handle objections, check out our article on it.
Know your products strengths and weaknesses, and also look at your Customer Profile to see who it really is made for.
Your arguments should really fit the product and not rely on exaggerations or plain lies as the truth will eventually always come out and fire back at you with increased force.
Make sure your integrity is never questioned, especially when you are just starting out.
Also be a person who keeps the promises you made to the customer and distributors during the sales conversation and provide that what you offer will be of decent benefits.
The best sales are made when both parties win.
An even more essential part is to communicate to your customers in their language and ask questions and test-closes to see if they really understood your points.
While communication skills is a topic entire books have been written on, to cover them we will need another blogpost but make sure that your skills match the purpose you are going after.
Too many sales are lost because the seller is not clearly communicating or has a strange way of expressing what he wants or what the product is - don't let that be you.
Plan how you want to distribute, where and how. And read on to learn about how to exactly go on from there.
How to sell
The classic approach to selling is either in-person or over the phone, and it still is the most powerful tool we have today.
The reason is simple:
Most of the sales process is going on subconsciously for the customer, without giving it actual thought in our conscious mind.
Customers are rather judging things according to our own feelings during the conversation.
The famous author and speaker Zig Ziglar put it this way: Sales is a transfer of feelings from one person (the seller) to another (the client).
Now to get your feelings across you have some tools that you can use:
Your personal appearance, your body language, your tone of voice, mirroring or last but not least the content of your conversation.
Most people believe that the conversation is the most important of these factors, after all if you provide logical arguments to the customer why shouldn’t they buy?
Guess how much impact the content of your conversation has according to several studies led by University of California Professor Albert Mehrabian?
A mere 7%.
Astonishing 38% are impacted by our tone of voice.
The majority of 55% are influenced through your body language.
That means if you talk loud, slow, make pauses between the words and for how long you pause will make more difference than the words you actually say!
Your body language, how you move, at which speed you make your movements and the position you are sitting will be even more important.
Let that sink in for a moment!
Armed with these facts you know what it takes to establish great communication.
The best option for selling would be to show up in person because your body alone will be responsible for 55% of the results of this conversation.
If this is impossible or you just have no time to meet every client personally, then the next best thing to do is to have a conversation over the phone.
Apart from personal cognition and how you will be perceived, only in direct conversations or over the phone you have the chance to uncover objections the potential client might have and ask specialized questions that can lead to new discoveries on the other side of the table you would otherwise never have heard about.
We live in a very modern age and personal conversation seems to be declining as we all are staring at our smartphones and screens all day long.
But exactly that is what makes a personal conversation (even over the phone) so much more personal and intense and helps you therefore much more to get your points across with greater strength.
Think about yourself when you receive an email from an unknown source, what do you do? Chances are high you probably delete it right away without even looking at it.
The same goes for letters you get in the mail.
But if someone talks to you, we usually feel almost obligated to respond and luckily only very few rude people would just ignore you or walk by (unless you hand out flyers in a busy street).
In person you have the strongest impact:
The other person can see your appearance, hear your voice, see your gestures and listen to your words.
You activate all senses that can be used in a conversation.
The second best option you have would be to sell over the phone.
The phone has stood the test of time when it comes to sales and marketing simply because it is cheap, you can get access fast to a lot of potential customers and everyone has access to a phone.
However, when you sell over the phone your main objective is to get an appointment with the customer!
Many sales people misunderstand this when we talk about sales.
My advice is to never ever try to sell any product completely over the phone, unless it is absolutely demanded and suited for it.
Instead, call your potential customers to make appointments and then sell in person at the appointment your product or solution.
On the phone the one thing you sell is a reason why the potential customer should give you his or her valuable time and schedule an appointment with you.
The real sale of your product takes place once you are in your customer's office.
Why do you ask?
Remember what we just said about the strength of your appearance?
55% of your impression will be made by body language and 38% by tone of voice.
When it comes to building your own business, sales are crucial as well.
In fact, they are the lifeblood of all you have.
No matter how creative, nice or good you are - if your products don't sell, then you will be out of business soon.
Hence it would be wise to do all that you possibly can to make sure this scenario will never become a reality, so first and foremost that means getting sales, making customers happy with whatever you offer.
That is your bottom line.
To raise your chances of success in selling, you should leave nothing to chance that is within your control.
You can't control what your potential customer's situation will be like, nor can you control their interests or desires, meaning there will always be a chance for failure once you are out there.
But you can control how many tools you bring to the conversation, how well you are prepared and how you use them - and this is often more than most other sales reps will do.
Here again is the basis for our sales strategy:
Get as many people on the phone as you can and sell them only a reason to schedule an appointment with you.
Never sell over the phone, regardless of your product.
Next, go to the appointment well armed with as much information about the other guy as you possibly can come up with and use your body language, tone of voice and arguments as much to your favor as you possibly can.
There will always be unforeseeable circumstances once you are in the office of a potential customer.
Make sure that all you can possibly control will work in your favor.
Find out about your prospect what you can
If you can find any personal information such as hobbies, interest or even the favorite sports club of your prospect, you will have just gained a big advantage!
By talking about what the other person loves and what Bob Rivers likes to do, his subconscious mind will begin to like you and treat you as a friend.
As Tony Robbins already states “People like people like themselves.”
By opening directly the conversation at what the prospect likes, you will automatically be in his or her favor.
What if you can't find any information upfront or there is nothing you see in their office that could leave clues about their personality?
In this case just ask the other person what they are interested in, what they do on weekends,what their hobbies are, where their children go to school, where they grew up, etc.
This is one of the hardest parts in sales - finding potential “hot points” that your prospect might like and that he or she considers when making a buying decision.
The top-performers in sales with years of experience have learned the techniques to uncover them in an elegant and “non-salesy” way.
You can learn more about it in our article on How to Qualify Customers.
You can also use email as an intensifier and confirmation for your appointments on the day before, but again do not try to sell people something via email.
An Email conversation is very impersonal, you can not ask specific questions according to potential concerns or handle objections because you will never know about them if someone is just deleting your message.
But e-mail can be helpful in reinforcing our overall selling process: to confirm appointments you can send a short e-mail, only saying that you acknowledge the appointment and look forward to it or give the customer a short summary of what was talked about on the phone.
E-mail is more of a marketing tool as it only works in really large numbers and you would need to have a large list to do successful email marketing of at least several thousand people all coming from your niche.
As this is something very hard or expensive to get and I assume most readers will not have this kind of luxury, I won't go into the details and strategies of email marketing here as they are a separate topic.
If you are one of those few who have such an asset, consider yourself lucky and grab a book on how to sell via e-mail marketing, as there are of course also tactics that can work very well.
But as a small business owner just about to start, all you need is your phone and the willingness to work hard and spread the message about your product.
And how to go about making appointments and what to say on the phone, will be uncovered in the next blog post we publish.
Failure is just opportunity in disguise
Last but not least the probably most important trait of them all - to see failure as just another chance for future opportunity.
In sales you will fail sometimes.
Even with the best product and the best ratios from your Sales Scripts your can expect to get maybe a 10% success rate from your appointments or calls.
That means 9 ouf of 10 prospects will say no!
And it means you do not fail some times, but actually most of the time!
The reason is simply that even the best product is not made for everyone.
If you understand the Law Of Large Numbers, you will know that the majority of people you talk to will not buy from you.
The same goes for the best built sales pipeline, scripts and every other tool available.
There is no surefire approach that closes every sale.
The thing is to see this not as a failure of your products or your skills as a sales rep, but much more as a natural part of the entire process.
Think about it this way:
Every customer who does not buy gets you one step closer to the customer who finally buys.
In other words, if 1 out of 10 will buy on average, you have to find 9 customers who give you a “no” before you will find that one who buys.
This means you do not even have to look for people lying to you - you can also succeed by searching for people who do not buy if you understand this ratio!
Also look at failed deals as a learning opportunity.
You just gathered experience, you could observe someone's reactions, body language and the like.
You tested some tactics to convince the customer and now know what is not working as it should.
If you are a good observer you can get a lot smarter even with every deal that fails.
Sales is a never ending learning process - treat it that way and don’t get discouraged!