10 Startup Tips
Chapter 16: How To Be A True Successful Salesperson
The only important skill you need in business
is knowing how to sell.
Many famous entrepreneurs are people of extraordinary drive.
Mark & Spencer started out
as boys selling goods in the market with a tricycle.
Richard Branson started in a phone booth.
Inability to sell,
that can also be the cause of many fledgling businesses go bankrupt.
“We started ten months ago
and I have been diligently filling in ‘zero’ on tax returns
for the Tax Department ever since.
The reason is that I’d rather spend my time working directly
than making any sales calls.” (Bryan, engineer)
Selling, like public speaking,
is an aspect of business that scares people.
You don’t have to be a “born salesman”
to be able to sell successfully.
To be a successful salesperson you don’t have to:
a) loss of morality and integrity
b) lose individuality
c) turn yourself into a clown
However, to become a successful salesperson,
you need to take a hurdle like:
Willingness to accept rejection
Do your best
– even if everyone will reject you.
The trick is don’t take it as an insult
Sir Tom Farmer started his Kwik-Fit-branded auto repair service empire
from a single business unit.
His first sales came from calling car buyers at major automakers
and recommending his service.
However, many times he was rejected.
Then he revisited his marketing approach
– was it the right timing,
was it price,
or was it the competition?
After experimenting with different methods,
he realized that the success rate was only about 20 calls anyway.
From there he changed his attitude:
“I learned not to worry about rejections
and learned to get over it
as quickly as possible so I could get yes answers.”
Don’t worry if you’d rather sit around
than make sales calls to customers
– normal people do the same.
The reason we don’t like selling is
because we don’t like rejection.
According to psychologists,
we get about 50% of our sense of self-esteem
and sense of worth from what everyone around us tells us
– no one can live in isolation.
If you’re selling,
you’re entering an area that’s very likely to be rejected.
The more you get rejected,
the more pitiful you feel.
Except for the crazy ones,
we all have a certain level of self-esteem
– or motivation
– and it goes up or down depending on the feedback of others.
But in sales,
keep in mind:
Any player in a nightclub will say:
Success depends on the number of times the game is played.
My best friend Paul became intimate with Carol Glaister,
whom I secretly loved
and admired during a hot summer at the age of 13.
Once, she and I went to the movies with Paul;
they started flirting with each other.
I am extremely sad.
The point was
– Paul was used to asking girls questions
and wasn’t embarrassed when they refused,
even though he wasn’t very handsome.
You need to kiss a lot of toads
before you find your toad prince/princess.
This is the same as selling.
The trick is to treat rejection as a big step
and don’t think it’s only you who gets rejected.
Always enthusiastic, enthusiastic
The problem of timing:
We have conducted research on why customers buy our products.
Is it because of creativity,
reasonable prices or because we are all professionals?
And then the customer replies,
“That’s because you called me at the right time.”
Most comes from choosing the right timing.
I find it surprising that so many times
I call and people say,
“I was thinking of calling you.”
The thing is,
they never do it if you don’t call them first.
And if you call at the wrong time,
“If you called last week,
we bought something.”
Try to use this to your advantage.
See if there is a peak time of the day,
or year when people want to buy something from you.
Calculate your numbers:
Sales isn’t always about winning,
it’s about moving people down the sales funnel.
Let’s calculate your success rate.
This number is different for different businesses
and I’ll give you mine:
One out of seven calls gives me a positive signal or a meeting.
One of those four positive signals gives me a bid opportunity.
We win with one of three bids.
So each week,
I calculate a sales form to know how many calls I need to make,
how much work I need to do for the week,
or how much to bid.
The point here is not to worry
if the job doesn’t come automatically
– just like you fill a hopper with water
– it will eventually have to come out
at the bottom of the funnel.
Every week you must have a goal.
Once you’ve reached your goal,
reward yourself with a break
– you don’t have to do anything else
for the rest of the week.
Of course you will get some results
or have some good signals.
Other weeks you may not sell anything,
but keep the same number of calls.
On the website www.fromacorns.com
there are sales funnel models that can be helpful.
Sometimes strange things happen.
I will have to have a week of hard work but no results.
Then at the end of the week,
all of a sudden,
someone called us and talked about something
that had nothing to do with work.
I think it’s like karma.
Face it Courageously:
The fear of making the call is always worse than it actually is.
You need to get to work.
Make a call with the most difficult couple.
Then you get lucky,
so all your other calls go smoothly while staying motivated.
Once you’ve reached your goal,
take a break and you’ll feel better.
Most sales departments offer sales bonuses.
we are all human
and all respond positively to simple rewards.
You should do the same to yourself.
The reward can be money
or other things you promised yourself like a CD,
bottle of wine or electronics.
Treat these rewards as your own.
Because if you feel smug after the sale
and go to work the next day on an expensive new motorbike,
you’re leaving everyone else feeling frustrated.
Should you let someone do the heavy lifting?
“I’m not a salesperson
– should I let someone sell for me?”
(Anika, Italian shoe designer)
I really sympathized with Anika as she explained her situation.
She is a top designer,
having designed shoes for famous shoe brands
such as Armani and Versace.
She had some really cool designs that she knew would sell,
so she started her own business.
But a year and a half passed
and she still hadn’t made any sales,
and she was worried if she should stop selling.
She simply couldn’t sell.
Anika’s problem is quite common.
I think this job is really hard for creatives
because when someone says “no”
to them on a sales call,
they get very frustrated.
My first piece of advice is
that you need to be brave and get motivated to sell again.
Calculate your odds
because you know it’s just a matter of times.
And try facing a client
because I’m sure when you do,
your natural enthusiasm will lead the way.
The second solution can be more difficult
to find another person.
Using a reseller is not a good idea
because they won’t have as much enthusiasm
for the product as you do.
You can hire salespeople.
However, it can be tough
when you’re just starting out:
you may not have enough money to pay employees
and don’t know the job well enough
to know what to look for when hiring.
The third solution adopted by many people is
to find a friendly salesperson
who can work part-time.
Even if they only work in the morning for a few weeks,
you can sit and watch how they make appointments and learn from them.
You can rotate calls (just like a company!).
These people don’t necessarily go to the appointments they’ve booked.
And then you’ll see that the inevitable rejection isn’t the worst thing in the world.
Make a sales call
Find the right person (not the right person):
The first step is to make sure you’re talking to the person
who will make the buying decision.
This may be more difficult than you think.
Imagine you have no purchasing power in your personal relationship.
First, you may not realize this,
you won’t confess this to strangers over the phone.
Sales calls are often scary,
and sometimes we wish we would only sell to people we like
and who treat you well.
There’s nothing worse than spending months building a relationship
with someone you later find out
they had nothing to do with the purchase decision.
To see if you’re finding the right person,
you have to ask them directly
who in the company makes
the final decision and is it worth talking to.
Clearly define the purpose of the call:
No one likes a pushy salesperson who always pulls your attention
from product to credit card offering in a five-minute call.
Keep in mind the AIDA formula.
Your first call may simply be to find out
who is in charge of the procurement.
If you find the right person,
get to know them briefly
before sending them your business information.
You can then call back to make an appointment or even close the sale.
“Should I send a letter or call first?” (Rebecca, marketing staff)
The Entrepreneur’s Secret:
Get Through the Gatekeeper
Many companies have tried very hard to avoid people like you and me.
Usually the gatekeepers will be secretaries.
Once we heard someone fake a funny voice.
Try the following:
The best way to get connected is to present something.
Pick up someone’s name in their office and say,
“Bob suggested I speak to them.”
say your name.
Don’t expect to leave a number and expect them to call back
– they rarely do.
most purchasing decisions at large companies aren’t made by the top people
– so should you aim for the slightly lower level?
If you don’t have a phone number on the company’s website,
look it up in the Yellow Pages or ask 1080.
People here are usually friendly,
they’re not afraid of calls
and will give you a number to contact.
In my experience,
if it’s not an eye-catching letter,
people will ignore it.
I will call first to find the right person
and gather some initial information.
Then send them a letter.
They may not read the letter,
but you will have an excuse to call back.
So they will feel guilty for not reading the letter
and this gives you the opportunity to make an appointment with them.
This also means that they can’t reply to you with the traditional,
“Can you send me the documents, please?”
to avoid answering the phone.
Despite technological advancements,
most sales have to be done in person.
During the sales meeting, remember:
Your goal is not to talk to people about buying something,
but to make them feel the need to buy it themselves.
To find out what they want,
you need to ask questions.
You shouldn’t talk more than half the time.
This is quite difficult for enthusiastic people.
Imagine that on a first date,
a person is constantly talking about themselves
– that will be their solo trip.
Instead, learn from Leslie Phillips1 and whisper to them:
“Dear friend, tell me about you…”
You should start with honesty.
If a complete stranger approaches you at a bar
and starts asking questions about you,
you might be a little reserved.
A simple way to start is:
“We’ve worked with company X in your field,
won these awards,
and have some great ideas on how we can help you.
However, before I do this,
I would like to know a little bit about you.”
2. Find out information
You need to make them open-minded about their business and their needs.
To do that, you have to ask open-ended questions
that give them a chance to speak,
not closed-ended questions
with a simple “Yes” or “No” and end the meeting.
Bad closed questions Good open questions
Have you thought about…. (yet)?
How many products has your company sold?
(“Six”) Do you buy products from vendors? (“No, goodbye”)
What is your main goal?
Why are you focusing on this product?
How do you choose a supplier?
Find the Message
You cannot withdraw from the contract
even if the business has ceased operations.
The answers people give you at first are not necessarily true answers.
We all need “creativity” in every brief.
However, a buyer’s biggest concern is often the amount of collateral
they have to put up.
Their subtext is:
“Give me something about 99% the same
but something a little different.”
3. Present your benefits
In school, did you find that you would get a better grade
if you quoted what the teacher mentioned earlier?
Your problem is to rephrase exactly
what the customer expects from a supplier.
Now it’s time to repeat.
Don’t worry if this seems obvious and dishonest,
no matter how obvious,
we love to hear.
l. Buyer feedback
Now you want to know what the possible problems are with you.
It sounds weird,
but feedback is a good thing.
Think back to your last big purchase
– I’m sure you want to ask a lot of questions
to check the product you bought.
It shows you are serious about shopping
and want to ask again to be sure.
if you can respond well to customer feedback,
you will always have a job.
The three typical responses are:
1. Loyalty to the current supplier
2. Current demand is not available
What Customers Say What They Mean What You Should Say
I am satisfied with my current supplier Loyalty
1. Don’t speak ill of your competitors
– you will be underestimating your customers.
2. Ask a lot about competitors’ services/products.
3. Emphasize the difference in your product/service.
4. Make them consider trying your product.
I don’t need that Need
1. Actively ask them why.
2. Make a rough presentation check out your current customer base
and why they should do business with you.
3. Go back to their situation.
That’s too expensive Price
1. Ask the customer
– “What makes you say that?”
2. Compare with the price of other products.
3. Ask them about the benefits
that your product/service brings and their needs.
4. Emphasize the value you have,
not the cost.
Don’t go overboard with the answer
and put yourself in a quandary.
Keep your answers short,
and learn to pause.
“No, don’t be so stupid.”
Nod your head to show maturity and say,
“What you said is great,
but in reality we found that…”
Don’t disparage your competition
– it will reduce your value
and the value of your customers.
(However, always be superior to your opponents
at every opportunity!).
Method: The table below shows you how
to handle feedback questions
5. End of sale
I think it is rude to ask for business cooperation.
I would make a very good appointment
and be a long-term partner with a potential client
but would never ask them to do business.
The simplest way is to wait
until the customer has given feedback,
then you ask:
“Can we do business?”
This sounds funny,
but it can be highly effective.
Often people will be surprised,
and then say,
“Okay!” If not, at least they’ll talk about other responses
– things you can answer.
Closing a sale means having a signed contract in your hand.
You can have a very good relationship
with your customers,
built on a foundation of trust and openness;
You and them had a contract
but then they left the company.
And an oral agreement is “not
as valid as a written document signed by them”,
you need confirmation from the customer,
even if it’s just an email confirmation,
or a signed document.
Don’t Be Afraid of Silence
Professional buyers often go silent
to get you to lower prices.
Be ready to be silent.
Repeat this over and over in your head if it helps
(but don’t move your mouth
as it can make you look awkward).
I was told there were two sales professionals
who sat silently staring at each other for a few minutes
before one of them blinked.
Maybe they still do now.
Only sure when it is “Black ink white paper”.
You need to do this quickly.
By the time you leave the room,
your relationship is slowly fading.
A week later they may have almost forgotten about you
(and obviously they won’t sign anything).
6. Beware of small talk
You’ve closed the sale,
you’re getting ready to leave the room.
Don’t ruin all the achievements just
because you missed the word with a few random comments
as you walk out the door.
I sold an ad supplement for one of our magazines.
At the end of the call,
“Yes, I’d love to put that in for you” and hung up.
An eerie silence fell as my colleagues stopped working
and looked at me in shock.