Let’s make one thing clear here: selling is not that difficult. Although it probably seems the opposite at the start.
There are literary millions of things you seem to do not know (yet), techniques more intimidating than a whole squad of military police and opinions that get your blood pressure rising to dangerous levels.
Not to mention that now you most likely will have to leave your comfort zone, speak to complete strangers out of the blue and try to convince them to buy from you.
On the other hand, selling not a mystery, or some secret art that only a handful chosen, born with some magical skill can do.
Quite the contrary, you can very quickly master the basic techniques that will get you started. Everything else is just practice, and, as with anything, the more you do it, the better you get.
With that in mind, I prepared a short set of sales tips for beginners. Plus, at the end of this post, you will also find a quick start plan of action.
Start Selling with These 6 Sales Tips for the Absolute Beginners
1. Learn to listen
Do you know how you can tell a good salesman? He or she rarely speaks. Instead they let the person they want to do business with to do all the talking. A good salesman might ask a question or two but only to verify the information or spark a new conversation.
Unfortunately, most sales beginners, when meeting with prospective clients for the first time think that it is them who should be doing all the talking. They talk about themselves, recite their company’s history and often even show facts about their personal lives.
Does it work? Rather not!
By talking all the time they prevent themselves from finding out all the important information that can help them to make the sale:
- Has the client been using similar products or services before?
- What potential issues have they had?
- What are their fears from using the service or product?
- Do they have the budget?
- Are they ready to buy now or do they have a buying cycle and if so, when will they be ready to buy?
- Who will make the final decision?
- and more
No prospect will show any of this information to you if asked about it. By letting them talk though you can find out answers to some of those questions. The prospect may tell you about their experience with your competition, they may show you the last project they did or simply show whether they really need your stuff now or later.
But in order for that to happen, you have to let them talk.
So the first thing you need to learn to prepare yourself for making sales is to listen.
Every time you will be presenting to a prospect hold yourself from talking, even if you feel that this is the only thing you should be doing. Instead, listen, make notes and ask questions to progress the meeting forward.
￼2. Learn to ask smart questions
Just as much as you need to listen, you also need to learn how to ask smart questions.
Questions are critical to engage the prospect; find out important information from them and set the mood for the entire meeting and the sale to happen.
In other words, what you ask the prospect about simply makes or breaks the sale.
From my experience so far, most sales beginners never prepare their sales questions though. They never research them, write them down and rehearse them before they meet the prospect. They just go to the next sales call hoping that they will come up with something as they go along, or that it will go just fine.
Unfortunately, as you have probably guessed already, it rarely does.
Here’s something you should always remember when you try to sell your services or products: just as you qualify your prospects they will do the same with you. And most likely they do it based on questions you will be asking them. So, ask smart questions, they will think you’re smart. Ask silly ones… ah well, I bet you get the idea.
Before each sales call, prepare a set of questions you will ask your prospect. Actually you should begin your presentation with one of them, this way you will make the right impression, set the mood for the meeting and also engage the prospect to start talking.
These opening questions are called Power Questions and they are one of the most powerful weapons of every sales champion.
Here are few things you have to remember while creating your own power questions:
- They should make the prospect stop and think before giving a response.
- You should be able to qualify their needs from their answers or find out what they are missing.
- You should be able to find out about their personal and company goals, they may help you build a better image of the prospect and what their long term plans are.
- Your questions should also create a buying atmosphere and make the prospect want to buy from you.
Remember that the more engaging your questions are, the greater the chance that your prospect will listen and fully take part in the meeting. And that in itself is the first step to making the sale.
3. Learn to build rapport with prospects
People buy from people they like, it’s a fact.
Therefore, if you find things you and your prospect have in common, subjects you can talk about it will be much easier for you to establish a relationship with them.
If you manage to build rapport with the prospect, you no longer are someone who is just trying to sell them something. You become someone much better than this, a person (and I am afraid sales people are rarely perceived as ones).
Here is a short tutorial I wrote on building rapport, read it, I am sure it will set you off on the right path.
4. Learn to Qualify Your Prospects
In order to do not waste time, you need to learn to quickly assess if the person you want to do business with you is likely to buy. This process is called qualifying a prospect. In it, you look at various factors that establish if the prospect is worth your time and effort.
Key points to remember are that a good prospect is someone who:
1. Shows a need for your product relatively soon
2. Has the money to pay you
3. Has the power to say yes (we call such people the decision makers)
Here is my prospect qualifying tutorial, have a look at it to find out more about the process.
5. Master the sales process
A sales process is that it is a systematic approach you follow to win a client, make a sale and bring more business to your company.
Sales process is a crucial aspect of running a business for more than one reason:
- It allows you to keep things under control,
- It makes selling easy as all you really have to do is to follow already predefined steps one after another to make a sale,
- It also allows you to measure your progress,
- It makes it easy to spot any problems with a sale,
A typical sales process consists of 6 key elements:
- Initial Contact,
- Sales Presentation,
- Handling Your Prospects Objections
- Closing the Sale,
- Follow Up
6. Learn to follow-up
It may seem that a follow-up is one of the most guarded secrets in sales. I certainly have noticed many sales experts deliberately omit this part, or cut it to a follow-up phone call two weeks after a sales call.
There is, however much more to a follow-up than this. On many occasions, you win new business through a good follow-up strategy.
Get Started with This Simple 6 Step Action Plan
1. Learn everything about your product or service.
Better, write it down in your own words. Be precise. You can’t sell if you don’t know what you are selling (and in most cases “I design websites” is not enough). List all the services you offer or products you sell, group them from the most important to the least.
2. Know the 3 benefits of using your services or products, think from your prospects perspective.
This will help you to learn to communicate your offer better but also understand it the way your prospects do. Do not omit this step, without it, your sales will fail miserably.
3. Make a list of 50 companies you would like to work with.
These are your ideal clients.Open up a phone book, internet listing or whatever other source and list companies you would like to present your offer to. Group them from the least important on the market to the most. Never start out in sales from approaching the big boys. If you are still learning, it is better to do so on the least important people in your target industry. This way, even if you mess up, it will not cause your position on the market much problems.
4. Research those companies to find out if they qualify as your good prospects.
A good prospect has 3 things:
- the need for what you offer
- the money to pay for it
- the authority to sign the contract
TIP: If your prospect has only two of those qualities, don’t engage them. A good prospect has to have all three to be worthy of your time.
5. Start approaching those companies from your list (starting with the least important ones).
Use techniques like email cold call, networking or traditional cold call to make the initial contact. Don’t contact them all at once, do it in small batches (I usually recommend contacting 5 companies a day), it will be much easier to manage your sales this way.
Follow up two days after the first contact, by phone or email, whichever way you prefer. Remember, the objective here is to engage the prospect so don’t expect a sale from the first contact. Instead, focus on getting the appointment so that you could present your offer to the prospect in person.
6. Rinse and repeat points 3-5.
Selling is a process that never stops. You should never spend a work day without trying to find new prospects, engaging them, making first contact or running presentations. No matter how busy you are, sales have to come first.
The above sales tips are naturally only the tip of the iceberg however, they are enough to get you started in sales very quickly. The rest you will learn along the way anyway.