For entrepreneurs starting a small business, being a great salesperson is often the hardest part. It’s also one of the most important parts of growing your business, so you want to learn as much as you can. To that end, here is a brief guide for what to keep in mind to be a great salesperson for the business you’re pouring so much time and sweat into!
Understand the Sales Cycle
Once you understand the sales cycle from start to finish, you’ll become better at designing efficient sales processes and closing more deals. Look at each step in the sales process, which can usually be broken down into a few basic steps: gathering leads to find prospective customers, outreach, follow-up, closing deals, and asking for referrals. The process of going through each of these steps should be systematized and done in an organized fashion.
Once you understand the cycle, you can refine it to make it more targeted. The shorter you can make the cycle, the faster you can get to closing deals, so find ways to make it as efficient as possible. The most successful salespeople have a tight, lean sales cycle.
Create the Perfect Pitch
As a small business owner, you need a compelling pitch for your product or service. You should have a few pitches, actually. One is a social media-friendly “elevator pitch” that you could present in just a minute or two. Another is a longer-form pitch that delves into more detail, and would be used after you’ve generated interest in your overall idea. Make sure it communicates all the key points about who you are and what you do.
The key to the perfect pitch is comfort. You want it to be second-nature and to sound conversational, so that it never feels like your delivery is robotic. Sales professionals know that it’s just a matter of practice, practice, practice.
A great pitch will be adaptable, so that you can use basically the same template when pitching to different audiences. Just adjust your pitch slightly according to who you’re speaking to. For example, garnering interest from a potential investor might require a slightly different version of the pitch than the one you use to entice new customers. Use one that’s flexible enough with slight modifications to be used throughout the sales cycle, in a wide variety of sales situations.
Write a Unique Selling Proposition
Your selling proposition is a statement that outlines what sets your business apart from your competitors. It’s a cornerstone of your marketing and sales pitch, and is the foundation for how you will position your product or service for potential clients. Why is your business the better choice for them, as customers? That is the primary question you want your selling proposition to answer.
Identify & Overcome Sales Objections
Before you begin pitching, identify as many potential objections as you can, and create great answers for each of them. Once you pitch, objections will probably arise that you hadn’t planned for, but these will teach you what you missed. Your list of potential objections will grow as you pitch more clients and improve your approach.
Most objections, however, you will see over and over. You will become a master at overcoming the objections that repeat! As you become more proficient at this, you will find yourself overcoming objections effectively and closing more deals.
Skillful negotiation will make it easier to overcome objections, make your prospects feel like they’re being listened to, and close deals within terms that leave everyone happy with the outcome.
Great negotiation starts with knowing exactly what you want to be able to walk away with. Address the easiest to solve issues first, so that more difficult issues are handled only after a rapport has been built through mutually-easy compromises and common ground. Allow for compromise on both sides, but know your limits ahead of time as to what level of compromise you’re willing to make.
With preparation, compassion and some flexibility, you can close deals that leave everyone feeling like they got what they wanted. Customers that feel this way when a deal closes will be much more likely to return as a customer later!
The basic principles behind being a great salesperson aren’t hard to get, but they can take time to master. Learning and growing is all part of improving as an entrepreneur—not just in sales, but in every aspect of your business. Some people are natural salespeople and some are uncomfortable with it, but everyone can improve.
All it takes is prep and practice. And once you close enough sales yourself, and your startup grows, you can hire a salesperson or even a whole sales force to begin doing sales for you. If you hate sales, let that be your motivation!