Selling is the art of closing the deal and the livelihood of your business. As a business owner, you are always selling. To sell, you must believe in your product or service, and believe in yourself.
Envision the selling process like a pyramid with steps, each layer building on the foundation of the prior step. While there are many variations on the steps, the following seven steps are common to all sales processes:
- Prospecting — if you don’t have people to sell to, you really have nothing to sell. Everything starts with prospecting, which is essentially the process in which you search for and cultivate potential customers. This strategy is the cornerstone of service businesses, but can also be utilized for retail sectors, like auto dealers, art galleries or repurposed products.
- Building rapport and trust — if people like you, they will find a way to do business with you. If people don’t like you, however, they will find a reason not to buy from you.
- Identifying needs — sales are only made to people who have a want or a need that your product or service can fill or solve. The more needs you can identify that can be filled by your product, the better off your chances of closing the sale will be.
- Persuasive presentations — you need to be able to effectively present your ideas/solutions/company in a manner that is persuasive, professional and targeted. No matter what form your presentation takes, being prepared and having clear objectives are two of the most important parts of an effective presentation.
- Overcoming objections — the best way to handle objections is to anticipate what the objections will be and to answer them before they are asked.
- Closing the sales — closing is just one step in what is often a very long sales cycle, depending on the industry you operate in. While it may be the most important step, successful closes are built by completing each of the previous steps and not by jumping right to asking for the sale. There are hundreds of closing techniques, tips and tricks, but the most important thing to remember is that closing a sale is not a stand-alone event but just a step in a process.
- Getting repeat sales and referrals — the final step in a sales cycle is really the first step in your next sales cycle. Ask for referrals from your customers, or have them post positive reviews or comments on social media. Repeat customers are the cornerstone of all successful businesses.
Developing your unique selling style is a process that evolves over time and with practice. Watch how other sales people interact with you. What do you like? What don’t you like? Read books that will help you practice the skills you feel will work best for you. Search YouTube, participate in interactive webinars. Practice on family and friends. Salesmanship is the ability to sell. It is half art and half science.
The key is to start with your customers and not with your products. Be genuine, smile and build rapport with your customers. Ask questions to gain an understanding of their priorities and show an interest in helping them find the right solution. If you follow these steps, sales and success will follow.