The most influential business thought leaders on the planet are pretty much unanimous in their view: in their list of must-have skills, sales is right up there.
Understanding the sales process, and how to build long-term customer relationships, is incredibly important regardless of the industry or career you choose.
-Jeff Haden, Inc.
The ability to sell is the number one skill in business.
– Robert Kiyosaki, Rich Dad Poor Dad
Whether or not you are actually selling a product or service, you’ll probably need to sell an idea to your manager, showcase a new initiative to your colleagues or convince your superiors that you deserve a raise or a promotion. All of these involve sales skills.
– Miriam Salpeter, US News and World Report
Does this mean we should all run out and become sales people? No. There’s a special breed of person who enjoys and excels at carrying a bag – and they’re a minority.
But, realize it or not, you’re selling all the time.
Consider what you may have done today:
- Negotiating with your spouse over who’s picking up the kids
- Returning a defective clock radio to Costco
- Getting an extension to the report you’re working on
Lets take a closer look at what you were actually doing.
- Responding to objections.
- Listening to understand.
- Conveying your position.
- Trying to determine a suitable outcome that bettered a mutual need.
Sounds like sales to me.
Alright, alright, we’ve probably convinced you that a little sales goes a long way.
How do you incorporate some of these skills into your daily routine?
Think like a salesperson.
You’re up for a new position but know there are a number of candidates under consideration. How do you stick out? What makes you special?
You’ve got to differentiate.
Understand what makes your skills unique and highlight them. Relate this directly to the job’s requirements. Bonus points if you know your competition, research them and can articulate your differences.
That’s what closers do.
Map out conversations in advance
Good salespeople know their pitch backwards and forwards. Great salespeople know all the possible objections they could possibly encounter and have canned responses prepared for each.
If you’re entering into a discussion around an idea you’re proposing, take some time to think about all the possible concerns you might encounter, and develop a response to each. You don’t necessarily need to write each one down – simply internalize what you might say.
Nothing communicates confidence like preparedness.
Know your product
Ultimately, salespeople are conduits between one or more people who are really good at solving a specific problem (like doing home renovations or selling jets or accounting, for example) and people or organizations that have said problem and are looking for a solution in the form of a product or service.
Salespeople really, really know the problem their organization can solve. They are subject matter experts in that area.
You’re probably one too in your area of expertise.
To sell your new idea, get your team to consider a new approach or get a raise, you better know what your talking about. That means diving in and immersing yourself in the problem.
Speak with other experts.
Understand and become comfortable articulating the WHY of your point of view. Practice. Which brings us to…
Practice your pitch
Do sports stars hit the turf cold?
Do concert musicians jump into their set before warming up?
The best athletes in the world don’t go on cold, so if you’re selling something, you’d better have some practice under your belt.
The higher the stakes, the more practice you should do.
Consider getting a friend involved. The best salespeople practice their pitch with a coach until its honed. You should too.
Listen. For pain.
Effective listening goes without saying. Prospects buy from people they like, and they tend to like people who listen and respect them.
When you’re selling yourself or your ideas, listen to understand. Couple this with seeking to uncover specific PAIN or needs, and you have a roadmap for positioning your perspective.
Let’s say you’re looking to have a major project you’re leading approved – what points do you touch on?
The key issues you identified in speaking with stakeholders, right?
In their minds, these issues need to be addressed in order for approval. Show that these can be mitigated and you’ve made approval that much easier!