Sales Skills for Entrepreneurs
Most of us never think of ourselves as sales people, but the truth is that one of the most important skills for success in life and in business is the ability to sell and persuade. Whether you are a salesperson, a small business owner, or an entrepreneur, you will benefit greatly from the ability to convince other people to take action by utilizing your sales skills.
Even as a young child we learn how to persuade the adults and older children in our lives to do things we want and need from them. I can remember the week before my first day of Kindergarten how I said and did whatever it took to persuade my father to buy me the dress I wanted. That was a great learning experience that I will never forget, and since that day I have honed my skills even further in the area of selling and sales skills.
I formally learned my sales skills from the owner of the Toyota dealership I worked at in Miami during the summer after I had graduated from college. He was a New Yorker who never met a person he didn’t like. He could make friends quickly and sell the new friend a car before you could count to ten, or so it seemed to me at the time. He taught me the value of honing my sales skills and my life would be forever changed after that special summer.
Most people do not feel that they are naturally gifted when it comes to sales, and they are definitely not comfortable when it comes to selling. But fortunately, it is a learnable skill (as all business skills are) and one you can improve no matter what you are starting point from. If you’re willing to put in the time and the effort, selling will soon come to like second nature to you. And this makes all the difference when it comes to online marketing and entrepreneurship. Marketing can teach you a thousand ways to get leads, but if you don’t understand selling and the sales process, you can’t close a sale easily. If you are unable to convert a prospect into a customer or client, then you are going to struggle no matter how good your lead generation and marketing is and no matter how many people you get in front of you.
Sales Skills for Online Entrepreneurs
Over time working exclusively online, I’ve built a sales process for my products, courses, and programs that entails taking my prospect offline when I’m ready to close the sale. It was my friend Marlon Sanders, the legendary marketer who pioneered much of what we do to this day on the internet who pointed out that this strategy was an effective one where my sales skills could be put to the test. This is how I proceed when I am selling and want to target someone because I know they will be a good fit for my product, course, or program:
First I connect with my client based on something they mentioned in an email or on social media.
Then I collect vital information about them and their situation, simply by asking questions.
I want to discover pain points I can solve. I want to encourage them to see the concrete benefits to a solution.
A perfect-for-them solution is often too good to be true, but they will often be open to hearing what I have in store for their future. I see in them what they cannot or will not see in themselves. This is powerful!
Then I explain the benefits of my product or course or program and what I actually deliver. I create an enormous amount of value to justify their investment.
Yes, there will be objections. But the true question is, what is this pain costing them in lost time, money, and energy?
Finally, I deal with these objections. I make it clear that my solution will make their life and business much better. I offer an exclusive discount or deal that is hard to pass up. Then I close the deal in a way that leaves the relationship open to infinite possibilities.
Do you see how simple this is? It’s because 90% of sales is listening. Let your prospects talk themselves into a sale while making sure you don’t talk yourself out of one! Start the conversation by finding common ground. This builds rapport and trust. Once you are comfortable with each other, then it’s time to move into the actual sale.
Allow your prospect do most of the talking. Too often, the salesperson takes over the conversation and talks all about themself or their product. But at the end of the day, your prospect cares only about getting a solution for their own problem. They just need to know that you care about them, understand their problem, and that you are ready and able to help.
Create a set of questions and use them to steer the conversation. Ask some follow-up questions to dig deep and elicit emotion on both sides. Most of the time, prospective customers are just looking for someone to share their problems with. If you show genuine concern, you will become the person they feel comfortable opening up to and trust to guide them through their journey. Don’t be too rigid when you are talking. Just be casual. If the prospect gets a little off topic, gently steer them back onto the straight line to success. This is like putting together a puzzle, where each of you is contributing to the solution.
The most important part is listening. Listen carefully to the prospect so you can figure out their main problem or problems. Then, show them how you can provide the best solution in a timely and well thought out manner. Examples of your successes will work well here. Describe how you have helped a client in a very similar situation by giving them the tools and the resources to overcome their obstacles. Then finish with a clear visual of how this client is now happy and successful. This will give your prospect confidence that you can help them with their problems, as well as showing off your communication skills as an entrepreneur. Give them an incentive to act now.
Answer any and all objections clearly and concisely. Being wishy-washy only makes it seem like you do not have a reasonable and effective solution. So be direct and diplomatic, and then guide them back to saying yes. Now it’s time for you to stop talking. This awkward silence will actually be a very good thing, so embrace it as time seems to stretch out forever. Let the prospect make the next move, which will either be saying yes or asking another question. Let them know their yes means the beginning of an ongoing relationship that shows you can be trusted to offer solutions to their problems both right now and in the future.
As you can see, selling is actually quite simple. Understand your prospect’s problem by being a great listener. Then, show them a clear solution. Be friendly, but pointed and concise. Take your prospect by the hand and guide them down the path to saying yes.