Sales cures all. – Mark Cuban
When you’re starting a business, one of the most important things is cash flow. If you have no money coming in, you’re going to go broke eventually. A lot of people tend to avoid sales because they think they’re not cut out for it, but the truth is it isn’t so bad after you give it a few tries. Like anything, you just need to get out of your comfort zone.
Before you decide to hire a salesperson, go out and give it a shot on your own. In most cases, you’ll be motivated to do so because, well, you won’t be able to put food on the table if you don’t.
Here are 10 valuable sales lessons I learned that will help you bring in sales:
1. Create a ‘Dream 100’
In the book, The Ultimate Sales Machine, sales expert Chet Holmes brings up the concept of the ‘Dream 100’. These are the 100 dream clients you would like to have – the big dogs that have the big money.
Throw these leads onto a spreadsheet or your CRM and keep track of them. Initially, you might not have experience to reel these big fish in and that’s okay. But keep your eyes on them because as you continue to grow and gain a positive track record, these seemingly impossible-to-get clients will suddenly become attainable.
The goal is not to get all 100 clients on this list. You’re really looking to lock in a few of them. Imagine if you your ‘Dream 100’ list compromised of mostly Fortune 500 companies.. how big of an impact would there be on your business if you locked in 1-2 of them?
2. Don’t Stop Following Up
Who hates rejection? Everyone!
The great thing about sales is that it teaches you to grow a thick skin. Sales is all about building relationships – you’re probably not going to close the deal on your first shot. The truth is you’ll hear a lot of negative response that sound like a ‘No’, but actually aren’t.
For example, a prospect might tell you ‘we’re already working with a business like yours’ or ‘we don’t need your services at this time’ but that’s not a firm ‘No’. As long as you don’t get a firm ‘No’, that means you have the green light to continue following up.
You might think that you’re being a nuisance, but in most cases you’re not. People are pretty busy and sometimes your e-mails might fall through the cracks. It’s up to you to keep reappearing in front of them. The truth is this: if you continue to follow up with prospects, they’ll start to notice your tenacity and might eventually give you a shot just because of how hard you’re trying.
3. Close The Next Appointment
One important thing to remember on your sales calls is to close the next appointment. If you don’t stay on the prospect’s radar, you risk disappearing quickly. It won’t matter if you give the best sales presentation in the world if you forget to set up the next meeting.
Keep the relationship moving. Don’t fumble the potential deal away.
4. Small Talk Matters
A lot of people talk about how they hate small talk and just want to ‘cut the crap and get to the point’. Oddly enough, the people that make small talk close the most deals.
As Ramit Sethi points out in the link above, it’s actually not small talk. It’s called building a relationship.
Talk about where the prospect is from. Talk about the weather. Talk about your favorite sports team. Talk about whatever!
But don’t try to jump into selling right away to someone that has no idea who you are. Chances are they’ll be colder to you.
Tip: Use Rapportive to find out more about the prospect. It’ll show you their Twitter stream, where they’re from, and other social media information. For example, if they’re from San Francisco, there’s a good chance your prospect might be a 49ers or Giants fan.
5. Find Out What Their Problems Are
The goal of sales is to tell the prospect about how great your product is, right? Wrong.
As a salesperson, your job is to find out what kind of problems your prospect is having. For example, if you were selling online marketing consulting, you should be asking questions like:
- What are you doing in terms of online marketing right now?
- What would you improve about your current online marketing campaigns?
The goal is to ask open ended question that will discover what their pain points are. If you can nail down their pain points and you actually have a solution to their problem, that’s a good sign. Bear in mind, however, that sometimes there just might not be a fit.
That doesn’t mean you should just try to disconnect from the call as quickly as possible though! If you can, try to give them a reference to someone that might be able to solve their problem. Who knows, they might even remember you and come back to you at a future time when they need your services.
After you close a few deals, you’ll find that your hands will probably start getting full. As a web designer or web dev freelancer, you have to close deals, do the work, handle accounting, take out the trash, and more. When you start getting overwhelmed, that means it’s time to delegate. For example, you can hire a virtual assistant from sites such as Online Jobs PH or Elance and have them send out cold e-mails. Make sure your interview process is thorough and you trust the person.
Your goal here is to have the delegated processes run smoothly without involving you.
7. Ask For A Referral
Assuming you’ve done a great job, it’s a great idea for you to ask for a referral after the arrangement is complete. Your client would be happy to do so and word of mouth recommendations are worth their weight in gold.
A lot of people tend to forget this – don’t. It’s low hanging fruit that will boost your bottom line and it’s one question. So ask
8. It’s Not A Sale Until You Have The Money
There will be times when you feel like you’ve ‘pretty much’ closed a deal. Everything looks good: the client is interested and says they’re ready to work with you, their team has talked with you extensively and you’ve planned the whole campaign out for them. Then they go dark and you’re left wondering what happened.
The downside to thinking that you’ve ‘pretty much’ closed a deal is that you start to think ahead and spend more than you can afford because you assume that you have an added layer of cash anchoring your business. This can be fatal for your business in some cases so the best way to go about this is to wait until the money is actually in the bank. That’s when you can say the deal is closed.
9. Don’t Forget About Social Media
Social media as a tool to close sales? No way!
The great thing about the internet is that a lot of people are looking around for ways to solve their problems. For example, there’s LinkedIn answers, Quora, Yahoo Answers, and more. These platforms provide a great opportunity for you to step in and provide your expertise.
The goal here is not to answer as many questions as you can – it’s to provide quality answers that people can refer to time and time again. My recommendation with this tactic is to use it sparingly and focus on your main sales functions.
You might get a lead here or there, but the leads I’ve seen in my experience have been very high quality. As an example, I was able to lock in a client that paid $10,000/mo after he read one of my answers.
10. Always Be Closing
I’ll let Alec Baldwin do the talking in the video below. Warning: very strong language.
Sales might seem daunting in the beginning, but it isn’t so bad once you get the juices flowing. Like anything, you’ll make mistakes when you’re first starting out. That’s OK.
As mentioned earlier, you’re going to get rejected. A lot. But don’t let that discourage you. In fact, it should motivate you:
Every no brings me closer to a yes. – Mark Cuban
The thick skin and experience that you’ll develop from selling will be invaluable to you throughout the rest of your life. It’s something not many people are willing to do. And there’s a reason for that (hint: it’s hard).
Don’t let that hold you back. Go out there and start selling!
What are some other valuable sales lessons that I missed?