Like so many other talents and skills that are honed over time, selling something is an art form that takes practice to improve upon. Long-standing companies like Coca-Cola and Microsoft can use their lengthy track record as an advantage for presenting expertise or overwhelming customers with a superior product or service. But what about a start up? Without the credibility that the bigger companies have, you might feel the need to bend over backwards to make a sale in a start-up. Don’t do that. Bending over backwards will hurt your back and ruin your chances of making a sale. Instead, master the art of selling by following these simple tips:
Use an authoritative tone with the gatekeeper
When you call a company, chances are that the first person you reach is either the receptionist or the assistant who decides if your call goes through to the decision-maker or not. These gatekeepers are the entry points for your information to get passed along to the person you are trying to contact. Sounding out-of-breath, desperate or overly polite could decrease your chances of reaching the decision-maker. Instead, talk to the gatekeeper as though you are calling to speak to a friend of yours. For example: “Hello, is Carl there?” “May I ask who is calling?” “Sure, it’s Mauricia with Click Me.” At this point the gatekeeper gets a sense that you know the person you are contacting, thus increasing your chances of pitching your product or service to the decision-maker.
Speak with clarity and confidence
If you are selling a machine that turns sand into gold within a few minutes, you wouldn’t discuss every single feature the machine has. Nor would your presentation be over the top. Remember that you have something that will help your customer, so they need what you are selling. This doesn’t mean that you have to act differently in your presentation, it only means that you should keep it simple. If you have confidence in your product, leave the bells and whistles out of the meeting to avoid looking desperate. Speak clearly about what it is that you’re providing, why it’s going to help their business and why they need to buy it.
Remember that you are the expert
Even if you have only been selling your product for the past five weeks, chances are that you already know much more about your product than 99% of your customers. So act like it.
Prepare yourself for your meetings
Before meeting with the decision-makers of a company, ensure that you gather as much information as you possibly can on that company – the same way a doctor goes through a patient’s medical information before entering the exam room. For example, if your patient is a middle-aged, heavy smoker who struggles with obesity, you’d know that he would need heart surgery. However, when that patient gets on the table, you don’t just jump straight into performing heart surgery. You start by taking his blood pressure, checking his cholesterol levels and figuring out where it hurts. This information leads you to the conclusion that he requires heart surgery, even if you already knew that. This is no different in a sales meeting: you’ve already determined what your prospective client needs, but you work towards that by asking appropriate questions. These questions then highlight the problems that they are facing, leading them directly to your solution.
People do business with others that they like and trust. So when you speak to a prospective client or customer, ensure that you start by building a solid foundation of understanding and mutual respect. And never forget that closing a sale is not the end but the beginning. Once you earn a sale, you have a customer, and that customer deserves positive customer service.