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June 6, 2016

10 Guidelines for How to Be Successful at Sales

how to be successful at salesWhether you’re a full-time sales professional or a senior executive who does it “on the side,” we all want to know how to be successful at sales. Sales success – especially in our industry – is not what you think. Cast aside all of those heavily-scripted, high-pressure sales tactics and integrate these guidelines into your everyday activities…

  1. It’s a relationship. For someone to decide to buy from you, they first have to get to KNOW you… then LIKE you…then TRUST you. And if all they ever hear from you is “buy something from me” – then you will never make it through that gauntlet. It takes some time for a sales prospect to get through all three phases… so be patient and stay engaged.

  1. Seek first to help… then to sell.’ By sharing useful and helpful information with a sales prospect (sending them an article, inviting them to a webinar, connecting them with other industry professionals), you are helping to move through the KNOW-LIKE-TRUST phases above.
  1. Always shoot straight. If you don’t know the answer, tell ‘em that. Then follow that up immediately with, “… but I’ll find out and get back with you.”
  1. Be confident… not cocky, but confident. You are a talented professional… you represent a firm that provides terrific services and products… and you might be able to help the prospect’s firm in a significant way. So feel good about what you do and let that shine through.
  1. Be rehearsed. No, not the stiff, read-from-the-script kind of rehearsed. But never enter into a client or prospect interaction with the plan of “winging it!” Getting ready to deliver a capabilities presentation? Practice so that it becomes second nature. Prepping for your first sales all with a prospect? Not only do you have to anticipate their questions and have thoughtful answers ready to go, you need to have your questions queued up, as well. Almost ready to ‘close the deal?’ Be prepared for objections and how you will respond to them.
  1. You can’t help everyone. Not everyone you talk with will become a client… maybe your products and services aren’t a good fit, maybe they have a great relationship with their current vendor, maybe their brother-in-law works for a competitor. No worries… end things amicably and move on. But stay in touch… you never know what might happen down the road.
  1. Do what you say you’re going to do. ‘Credibility is’ everything for a sales professional… even if it’s something as simple as “I’ll send you the brochure when I get back to the office.” And doing what you say you’re going to do goes a long way toward solidifying the TRUST part of the process.
  1. People don’t care about what you can do… they care about what you can do for them. So communicate with prospects in ways and with words that are meaningful to them. For example, when you’re talking with a Brand Manager at a Fortune 5000 company… don’t talk about how great you are at max-diff research or that your moderators all have at least 10 years of experience. They don’t care… they don’t have research problems! Their problems are about creating more effective ads or developing new products. Talk to them about how you can help them with those issues. That will get their attention.
  1. The buyers control the buying & selling process. Not you. They have access to the tools they need to do their homework before making a decision. They have access to all of the vendors they need. So, stop the hard sales pitches… instead, share something of value… show them how you can help solve their problems… and help them understand how you’re different and why they should do business with you instead of all the other vendors.
  1. Say ‘Thank you.’ First, always thank your clients and prospects for their time – after any phone call or meeting. And if it was a really significant meeting… send a handwritten thank you note. Second, NEVER forget to thank your clients for their business… whether it’s their first project with you or their 20th. Especially if it’s their 20th!

Being successful at sales isn’t just about trying to close as many deals as you can… in fact, if that’s your sole focus, you probably won’t have much success. Selling is people dealing with people… so treat them as such. Be nice… be honest… be helpful… and lead them down the path of making a good buying decision. With your firm, of course. That’s how to be successful at sales!


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