This post originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com - #Growing Your Business
You may be more of a gifted pitch person than you realize.
4 min read
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Building a business is largely about sales. Sure, you have to have a passion for what you do, a great product or service and effective operational systems. But unless you have customers and sales, you’re out of business. Still, lots of business owners say they hate sales. They love product development or introducing something new, but they may not enjoy selling or feel hey’re not very good at it. However, a founder/business owner is typically the best evangelist for the company, because her passion for the solution that she offers is what inspired her to start the business in the first place.
So, what are the keys to success with sales, even if you don’t think you have a natural “gift of gab”?
A Little Reflection Goes a Long Way
First, do some sleuthing. Your goal is to get to “yes” as easily and frequently as possible. That means knowing exactly the kind of people who say yes to you and what motivates them to do so. Examine your successful recent sales. Who exactly made the purchase decision? What motivated them to buy at that moment? What exactly did you do to make the sale?
Armed with this information, your best bet is reaching out to people just like those who recently made a similar purchase decision. Focus on the customers who said yes most readily, the ones you enjoyed working with and who valued your work and maybe even sent you referrals. You want more people just like them. We call them ideal clients — your perfect prospects.
Related: How to Adopt a Sales Mindset
Then, think about how you met these customers. Was it through personal introductions from existing clients, or did they contact you after seeing you give a presentation or keynote speech somewhere? Did they find you through your website? Figure out what has worked in the past and try to duplicate those circumstances. Do more of what’s working, and do less of what isn’t producing good results.
Hone Your Sales Process
You can also refine your sales process by identifying patterns in your most recent successful sales and replicating them. How many phone calls, emails and/or in-person meetings did you need to do in order to make those sales? Did providing a sample of your product or free trial of your service help? On average, how many people within a company did you need to meet before reaching the decision-maker? Was a written proposal or formal presentation necessary to seal the deal? Look back on all your successful deals and list all the steps you needed to take to qualify or disqualify the prospect, discover his needs and demonstrate how your product or service met those needs.
Remember that sales are more about listening than talking. Whenever you meet with a prospect, engage them in a conversation about the issues they are facing, what they are working on and their biggest challenges. Be genuinely interested and listen carefully. They will probably reveal enough to give you clues about whether they need what you sell and whether they need it right now. Then be honest with yourself and the prospect about whether your product or service is a good solution.
Be Pleasantly Persistent
Unless a perfect prospect tells you never to contact them again (and this rarely happens), keep them on your list. Reach out to them periodically to see if their needs have changed and if it’s a better time to talk further about your solution. There is a lot of research about how many “touches” it takes before prospects know, like and trust someone enough to do business with them. There is also a lot of research showing that most salespeople give up long before they reach the minimum number of contacts. By simply staying in touch on a monthly basis, you can outlast your competition.
Once you know who you want to sell to and the best process to follow, what exactly do you say? Most of the time, stories work best. Share stories about people just like them who faced a similar challenge and how your product or service was able to shift that situation for them. Describe a customer’s new and improved reality now that they are working with you. Paint a picture of how much better, simpler, more enjoyable and more convenient life will be for your customers once you are helping them. That, at the end of the day, should be an easy sell.