Any professional knows that at some point, you have to sell. Not only private sector professionals such as consultants and contractors, but public sector professionals as well. But what if you’re not a “born” salesperson?
Dan Pink, author of “To Sell is Human” presents the case that everyone is now a seller — someone who persuades others to take action. He teaches specific traits and techniques that will improve your selling, and might also improve your life, as well.
Sales ability isn’t something you’re born with. There are some people who have an easier time selling because of their natural talents, but it’s a skill that every professional needs to learn. Even if you’ve always felt that sales isn’t your thing, you can still master these skills and become a better professional.
You may not like selling because you feel like a “salesperson” talking to a “prospect.” But in reality, it’s just you talking to another human being. Like any other encounter, you need to start by building rapport.
Spend some time chatting (this could be face to face or by phone or email), finding common ground, and getting to know the person before you start discussing their needs and what you are “selling”.
Learn to Listen
Most of selling is about listening. Listen to the person and try to understand their problems. This will reveal information you can use to determine whether what you are selling is something they would be interested in.
Listen more than you talk and make sure you understand what they’re saying. Clarify if you need to. Pay close attention to body language and non-verbal clues as well.
Or you could research what they have written or said in the past or if a senior decision-maker, seek advice from their advisers.
Know Your Product
If you know your product or proposal well and you’re confident about its importance, quality and impact, you’ll find it much easier to sell. You should know each feature and the specific benefits they bring.
In other words, don’t just know what the product or proposal does, but why it is important and what the outcome will be.
You should also know what sets your product or proposal apart from others. What about your product or proposal is unique? How does it solve problems differently from others? For consultants, know your content and your competitors.
Don’t Be Afraid of “No”
An important skill for professionals is to build up a resistance to the word “no.” If you’re terrified of rejection, you won’t be able to approach customers or decision-makers and try to sell your product or proposal.
When a customer or decision-maker says no, it just means that your offering wasn’t well presented or not robust enough. Furthermore, it may not be good right now, which means it could be right in the future. “No” isn’t a rejection of you personally. It’s giving you some valuable feedback.
Give Up the Hard Sell
When you think “sales,” do you picture the fast-talking high-pressure approach? You shouldn’t.
Good selling is all about building a relationship with the prospect and working together to see if your product or proposal meets their needs.
Think of it this way: you’re getting to know someone new and seeing if they need what you have to offer.
Selling is about getting out there and talking to people. Get yourself fired up with plenty of positivity and make some new friends. The more you meet people, the more experience you’ll get and the more you’ll learn and hone your sales skills, the higher your rate of success.