Selling is relevant to just about every industry in existence. Maybe you happen to be a sale associate in a retail store. Maybe you manage ad sales for a local television station.
Maybe you’re a freelancer and you’d like to improve the way in which you pitch your services to potential employers.
No matter what your line of work is, fine-tuning your sales skills can have major benefits to your career and your business.
But what makes a good sales associate? Some may say that it comes from a natural talent for interacting with others. But while natural talent surely helps, it’s not the secret ingredient to success.
We’ve explored some of the major traits and practices that help make a salesperson more effective and more likely to bounce back from negative experiences. Read on for more details.
The Importance of Selling an Idea, Not a Product
If you happen to be a fan of the AMA television drama series Mad Men, then you’re likely already familiar with some important sales concepts.
The show provided some keen insight into popular advertising and sales methods of the 60s and 70s.
In one especially insightful scene, Don Draper explains that to help sell a product, you can use the abstract concept of ‘New’ to attract buyers.
The product itself is not as important as buyers seeing the product as something they want.
The act of purchasing something, whether it’s a product or service, is an opportunity to feel affirmed in your life choices.
Try to keep this in mind when entering a sales pitch.
The specific traits and features of the product are of course important, especially within the realm of retail.
But to truly change minds, try to explain the abstract benefits of the product, such as how you feel when you use or wear it, and how it can be part of a new personal identity.
The Friendliest Person Around
If you work in sales, you need to be friendly. It’s akin to a musician needing to know how to play their instrument.
You should do your best to be as likable as possible without seeming like you’re trying too hard.
If you find it to be difficult with strangers or business contacts, do your best to stick to the Golden Rule: treat others the way you would like to be treated.
Every person deserves dignity and respect, and when you keep this in mind, you’ll find it easier to speak with customers and clients on a much more personal level.
Determination and Persistence
As hard as you may try, there are guarantees that you’ll make a sale. Human beings are fickle, after all, and they allow many different internal and external factors to affect the decision-making process.
That’s why part of being a successful sales associate is accepting that you can’t win them all. There will be lulls and slow times. It’s just part of the process.
It also takes a lot of work just to be able to make a sales pitch. Much of the work is just to get your foot in the door.
Even if you’ve been on an unlucky streak for a while now, try to remember that every business has its highs and lows.
The next big sale could always be right around the corner.
Being friendly is one thing, but making connections and networking effectively is its own challenge.
When it comes to sales, networking often involves meeting as many different people as possible, from potential clients and customers to other business owners and sales representatives.
Professional conferences are a great way to make connections with many different people within an industry.
Always be upfront about what you do, and that you tend to focus on sales. You don’t want to surprise someone several weeks later by sending them a sales pitch.
Do your best to acquire basic professional contact information for each person you speak with. Have some business cards handy that include your full name, company, and your work email address.
Staying organized is incredibly important for any career sales associates, especially in an industry that requires long-lasting professional relationships.
Keep detailed records for every business contact you speak with. Note how many times you’ve given a sales pitch to a specific person or company.
This will help you avoid confusion and annoying re-visits in the future.
And while we encourage you to keep these records in a digital format, most likely on your work computer or on a cloud-based program, it can also be helpful when first meeting someone to physically write down their name and their professional role on a piece of paper.
This will make it just a little easier to remember the information days, weeks, or months later.
Make sure to also keep your records as well organized as possible.
Watch the Pros in Action
One of the best ways to learn the tricks of the trade, completely free of charge, is to watch other sales associates in action.
This is especially easy in retail, where you have the luxury of being in close proximity to other sales associates at all times.
There are likely a few associates in your store who are especially talented when it comes to sales.
Watch them carefully. Do they start a casual conversation with the customer? How quickly do they offer alternatives? How do they close the deal without sounding pushy?
Ask for Feedback
Perhaps most important of all is the need to ask for feedback on your sales performance.
This idea is also covered in this article which outlines ways to find success in your career path.
Be sure to ask for feedback both from your clients (especially if they’ve bought from you in the past) as well as from your co-workers and your manager or supervisor.
As long as all feedback is given on a strictly professional basis, you could stand to pick up some great new tips and tricks for how to close deals and make connections with buyers.
If you’ve been curious about a specific aspect of your sales technique, be sure to speak up and ask about it.
Your co-workers and your clients will be impressed to see how dedicated you are to improving your techniques and work performance.