As a business mentor, I find one of the most common challenges business owners face is selling their products and services. Selling is essential to business, yet it’s something so many people struggle with.
Having worked with many businesses in different industries over the years, I have concluded that anybody can sell. In fact, we all sell in some form or other.
Some sales activities sap a lot of our energy, depending on our behavioural style. Therefore, it’s important we manage our energy levels and put strategies in place so we don’t feel as drained when we must do the things we don’t enjoy.
Introverts versus extroverts
In her book, Quiet, Susan Cain writes about introverts. She tells the story of a stereotypical introvert called Jon Berghoff, who started his working life selling Cutco kitchen products while he was still in high school. He was extremely successful at direct sales. The reason for Berghoff’s success was because he did what introverts typically do: he used only one or two important topics to have serious conversations with prospects. Extroverts, on the other hand, tend to cover a wide range of topics in conversations at sales meetings.
I once worked with a distribution company that had a problem with its sales reps, who were introverted technical experts making cold calls. When we changed the dynamics of the call to simply having a conversation about equipment, the industry or the prospect’s business, these introverted reps found it much easier to convert prospects to customers.
What’s your sales process?
The sales process varies between industry products and services, but the basic requirements are that you find a prospect, you make sure they can benefit from and afford your product or service, and you help them buy it. Different sales books and trainers set their own spin on it and design the steps they think are necessary. Business owners typically read many books or attend several courses until they work out what is appropriate for them. They can save a lot of time and frustration if they undertake an assessment of their strengths and weaknesses in the sale process.
The reality is, we cannot avoid sales because nothing happens until somebody sells something. Business owners often make the mistake of relying on one or two big customers, then struggle when that customer leaves them. A solid sales system ensures you will never be short of customers.
Here is what I recommend to clients:
- Accept the reality that you need a sales system and you need to follow it.
- Undertake a sales skills assessment to identify skills you need to improve.
- Record your sales activity in a CRM (customer relationship management system).
- Track your results with the key sales activities (prospecting, etc.).
- Continually listen to sales training recordings, watch YouTube videos and listen to podcasts from sales experts.
- Prepare for every sales meeting without fail.
If you struggle with sales in your business, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would be happy to refer you to somebody who can assist you.