10 Steps to Successful Selling

The term salesman can evoke many images in our minds. I immediately think of the stereotypical used car salesman puffing on his cigar as he assures you “15,000 actual miles on this 1987 Ford Escort — original paint too!” Or those telemarketers that call you at home (always at dinner) trying to sell coupon books or asking you to switch to their long distance plan. Or religious salesmen, who appear at your door asking if they can they can share with you a “greater revelation”.

Although nobody likes to be lumped into the same category with these aggressive, obnoxious, motor-mouthed merchants, for the entrepreneur, it is essential to be able to sell and market your company and products. I talk to many people who are involved in business but feel inadequate when it comes to their ability to sell. People with home businesses especially struggle with the sales side of their business. They have worked hard on developing a good product, they know their business inside and out, but they shy away from marketing and promotion.

Everyone has the ability to sell. I once spoke with a man who was completely convinced that he couldn’t make a career in sales. He spent over twenty minutes giving one of the most impressive arguments I’d ever heard, on his lack of persuasive ability. When he had finished, I told him he was a sales genius, he only needed to learn how to overcome his fears and channel his talent in a positive direction.

Salesmanship is a learned and developed skill. Some people have an intuition that makes communicating easier, but success in sales necessitates practice and determination. No matter what activities fill your life, it is likely that you use sales skills (persuasive speech) everyday. Have you ever been entwined in a debate with someone who disagreed with you? Have you ever talked someone down on their suggested price? Have you ever found yourself telling someone about a wonderful new product you discovered, and encouraging them to obtain it as well. If so, you are already an experienced salesperson.

We are constantly selling ideas and convincing people of our point of view. The problem most people face, when they get involved in a “sales job”, is a lack of understanding concerning the dynamics of selling. Here are a few tips that will help you be a successful salesperson.

  1. Have confidence and enthusiasm! Anticipate the sale. I have never reached a goal that I believed was impossible. If I am convinced that someone won’t be interested in what I have to offer, I will not make that sale. Have you ever been around a chronic pessimist? Probably not for long. We naturally gravitate toward people with positive attitudes. A man I once worked with, had a small retail business, and he would tell me it was impossible to sell his products because the competition was too tough, his company was too small, his catalog wasn’t glossy enough, etc. He had me convinced! Focus on what makes your company unique and enjoy your work.
  2. Find your target market. If no one needs what you are selling, it’s time to find a new product, or a new market. First, you have to determine who your target audience is. If you make and sell saddles, setting up a booth at the Christian Booksellers Convention would probably not be the best use of your advertising dollars. Find people that need your particular product or service.
  3. Stay motivated. The book of Proverbs is filled with verses that doom lazy men. Set goals and don’t give up until your goals are reached. This is the hardest step for me, but if I don’t have a target, I won’t know where to aim. I try to be realistic with my goals, but I can’t be easy on myself. When I reach a goal, there is an incredible sense of satisfaction that keeps me going.
  4. Don’t make excuses if you blow it. It does no good to blame other employees, my company, or plain ‘ol bad luck for my mistakes. Phases of economic drought are bound to come, and most of the time, disasters are beyond our control. But when the fault lies with me and my decisions, I have to face my failure if I want to overcome it. I have to be willing to learn from those who know more than I do. I watch salesmen who have impressive results, and if need be, I adjust my approach. If I “fall on my face”, the only thing to do is to get up, dust myself off, and walk on. Hopefully, I will be able to avoid that pitfall in the future.
  5. Sales is about relationship. Sales can take on many different shapes, but telemarketing, sales meetings, door to door sales, etc., are the most common interpersonal sales. When you are relating to potential clients or customers, they need to trust not only your products, but you as well. This means you have to make a good impression. Be yourself. Don’t be too rigid or too sloppy. It is becoming common in business to be casual, but don’t come across as apathetic. When conducting direct sales, dress appropriately. The most important thing though is to genuinely care about your customer or client and want what is in their best interest.
  6. Respect your customer and their time. When phoning, make sure you aren’t interrupting your client’s schedule. I once called a business executive and immediately began asking him about his company and their marketing strategies. After about 2 minutes, he politely informed me that his wife was in labor and he had to rush her to the hospital! When scheduling a meeting, make sure it is convenient for the client. Don’t ever be rude or obnoxious, even if you are treated in an unprofessional manner.
  7. Listen to your customer. Find out what their needs are. If they hesitate, there are still unanswered questions that need to be addressed. I try to sort out who needs my service and who doesn’t. I don’t view sales as an arm-twisting event or a challenge that necessitates a sale at any cost. Nothing turns a customer off faster that a salesperson who doesn’t listen. Your customer may need your service, but may be unable to see why. If you sell horseshoes, you need to find someone who needs your services. If your client needs horseshoes, but is hesitant, you should answer his questions and concerns until he feels comfortable. If he doesn’t have a horse and asks you to leave, don’t push the sale. A genuine care and concern for your customers will be evident and help you establish a positive reputation.
  8. Ask for the sale. For some people this is very difficult. It may take some time to develop the right approach, but try it a few times and you will find something that works for you. Don’t say something tacky like “So, do you want it or not?!” (I’ve tried it and it doesn’t work!) If your customer tells you, “I need some time to think about it,” go back to number seven. A stall often means they don’t know how to tell you no, or they don’t have all the necessary information for making a purchase. Stalling is acceptable if they have to clear the purchase with someone else, or if they need to pray about it, but try to bring them to a point of decision. Asking for the sale is commonly referred to as “The Close”, but I prefer to think of it as an affirmation of a working relationship, not a close.
  9. Don’t take rejection personally. When you pursue the sale, and bring the customer down to a point of decision, he may say no. Your prices may not be competitive, your customer may not have the money, and sometimes they will give no indication why they aren’t interested, but the answer is no! If someone turns you down, thank them for their time and consideration, and leave on a good note. Many times these same people will work with you later on. I don’t look at rejection as a permanent no, oftentimes it is a postponed sale.
  10. Maintain high quality customer service. After the sale, strive to maintain an above average, costumer service policy. The best approach is to under-sell and over-perform. Everyone loves a guarantee that they will be a happy, satisfied customer, strive to fulfill that end. If at all possible, as much as it lies within you, live peacefully with all men. This is sometimes hard to do especially when you are face to face with an irate customer. Try to remedy any problems before they spread and you gain a negative reputation. Remember, word of mouth is one of the most positive forms of advertising you can obtain.

Israel Wayne is a homeschooled graduate, and homeschooling father, who is leading his generation in defending the Christian faith and developing a Biblical worldview. He is the author of the book Homeschooling from a Biblical Worldview. Israel is a regular columnist for Home School Digest and Brush Arbor Quarterly, published by Wisdom’s Gate, where he currently serves as the Marketing Director. He is also the site editor for ChristianWorldview.net.

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