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Basics of Becoming a Professional Sales Person

salesIf you are a solo or micro business owner it is likely you are also the sales person or Rainmaker for the business. You may not think of yourself as a sales person, but it is critical to the success of your business that you become a great sales person.

If you want to become a successful salesperson rather than just being an order taker, consider the following key points:

Qualities needed by the successful salesperson

A competent sales person has: ego, drive, empathy, good judgment, winning personality, perseverance, persistence, honesty, a strong desire to sell. How do you rate yourself? What steps can you take, or are willing to take, to improve yourself in these qualities?

Learn the basics about your business: Your Products and Company:

  1. Know your product inside and out. You will realize the objections that a prospective customer might raise; therefore, you can anticipate a rebuttal well ahead of time.
  2. Know the strengths and weaknesses of your company (prices, delivery, quality, guarantees, appearance, size, etc.).
  3. Know benefits your company and its products offer? What benefits are not offered and why?

Competitors’ Products and Companies.

  1. Identify your competitor’s strength’s and weaknesses. This is essential when determining your niche in the market.
  2. Be aware of your advantage in price, delivery, etc.? Do you offer alternatives to offset a deficiency? For example, if your price is high, perhaps you offer better quality, packaging, delivery and/or promotion.
  3. Know about your competitors, and structure your sales presentation to put your products in the most favorable light.

Develop Market Knowledge.

  1. Research historical information about your business. How did it develop and why?
  2. Keep up with current information and trends through available trade publications.
  3. Continually evaluate new developments in the market. Learn to adjust to changes and to make them work to your advantage.
  4. Learn about your customer’s needs. Why do they need your products? Will your products save the customer money, time, improve quality, etc.? Understand your customer’s needs.

Sales Techniques

  1. Be a self-assured professional. The way you present your sales message, your appearance, your demeanor will affect the client’s initial reaction as to whether or not the client likes you and can trust you. Knowing how (and when) to smile is a large plus. Be careful that your smile isn’t a smirk!
  2. Be reliable and consistent with customer relationships. Always fulfill your commitments to your customer. This is extremely important to gain respect and trust. Exaggerations become suspect, and can destroy your trustworthiness and reliability. Avoid pressure tactics; the “soft sell” gains respect. With complete knowledge of your product and the prospect’s needs, your self confidence will replace hyperbole
  3. Don’t dominate the conversation. Most sales are achieved by listening to the customer. How else can you learn what the client wants?
  4. Don’t take rejection personally. Rejection is an integral part of the professional salesman’s life. It must be accepted. Learn from it and move forward to the next opportunity. Ask for reasons the order was given to the competitor. A lost sale should be a learning experience.
  5. Don’t be negative. Buyers always react more favorably to upbeat and positive approaches.
  6. Don’t knock the competition. All companies have strengths and weaknesses. Emphasize your strengths, particularly when compared to competitors, but be careful to be respectful. If the competition had nothing positive to offer, they would not be in business.
  7. Answer objections or adverse reactions promptly and honestly, but let the prospect state his ideas fully while you listen attentively. Then preface your rejoinder by restating his/her views, but never contradict the prospect or display an adversarial tone. If there are obvious objections which can be anticipated about your product and the situation is favorable, it may be to your advantage to mention them before the prospect does. This gives you the opportunity to overcome or minimize the problem and shows that you are competent, honest, fair and objective; thus you are able to disarm and impress the prospect with your confidence and your professionalism. When you are challenged in a situation like this and you need a moment to decide on the best rebuttal, ask questions which may lead you to the best answers.
  8. Plan your sales presentations. Always have a point to deliver that will lead to a sale. Remember: the first ten words of your presentation will get your customer’s undivided attention and interest or will turn him/her off. A social sales call is a waste of your time and, more importantly, a waste of your prospect’s time. Assume that he/she is busy and has no time for small talk.
  9. Make appointments whenever possible. Schedule your sales calls in advance to minimize inconvenience to the customer. By Monday morning you should have a clear picture of your activity for that week. Learn patience. Arrive early for ALL appointments. Budget your time and effort so that you are not spinning wheels, which will curtail your sales production. Plan your day and use your time to the best advantage by making other calls in the area.
  10. Take up at the precise place where you left off in follow-up meetings – and that usually is at the prime objection made by your prospect.
  11. Send a “thank you” note for his/her time and the sale after you have your first call on a prospect or have received your first order. This is a method of impressing him/her and helps to get a welcome on the next call.
  12. First impressions are most important. Proper grooming, posture, neat and clean clothing are discerned by your prospect the moment you enter the room. The client forms a judgment of you even before you speak your first word.
  13. Be prepared for multiple meetings before closing the sale. Usually sales of any magnitude are generated through a multi-step approach. You must know what the customer wants and the customer must know the benefits of buying from you. This takes time and negotiation. Few sales are made on the first call. In the industrial market, 90% of sales are made after the tenth call.
  14. Conduct long-term planning, moving from piecemeal face-to-face sales calls to long term non-selling strategies. Selling skills alone may not assure success if not augmented by effective strategies which require creative planning and creativity, long-range assessments, and considerable research in order to gain access to high-potential accounts. Analyze the players, the culture, the competition, the economic conditions. In short, you will be facing into what you are going to do and how you are going to do it to win not just one or two sales but long-lasting sales from your customers. Don’t confuse with your short-term tactics, which can be one-time or occasional sales methods you use for face-to-face sales.
  15. Selling to a consumer is considered to be different from selling to an industrial prospect; however, there are certain fundamentals common to both in order to become a competent salesperson. As examples:
    1. Conduct personal observation: Get out and spend time analyzing how customers or non- customers are using, or could be using, your product. Observe carefully your competitors methods.
      2. Highlight the benefits your prospect can expect by using your product. Keep it understandable.
    2. Provide direct answers to prospect’s questions and concerns.
      4. Ask directly and politely for the order in straightforward terms.
      5. Follow up after the order to learn customer satisfaction (or dissatisfaction), and, as the case may warrant
    3. Provide training on how best to use your product.
    4. Keep the best interest of your customer in mind. Try to influence by information rather than by pressure. However, be willing to disagree with him/her tactfully in order to help him/her make a better decision. Persistence and good attitude eventually prevail.
    5. Communicate effectively. People are busy and hard to see. Some will not answer their telephones. You may choose to inform them by fax, voice mail or e-mail that you wish to meet them at a certain time. Explain that you have information on a product they can use. Ask the client to contact you to schedule an appointment. Assume that they will show up on time unless you are notified otherwise.
    6. Be discreet about discussing your business in lobbies, public locations and public transportation.

Goals

Set goals for yourself. How much income do you need and want to earn in order to accomplish your lifestyle? What might keep you from making enough sales to do that, and how can you prepare to overcome that block?

To Summarize:

A professional sales person covers all prospects whether or not they are potential customers. You will be able to close the sale if a prospect has confidence in you and your product.

Following is a Professional Salesperson Checklist, 20 Points to Being Successful:

Professional Salesperson Checklist 20 Points to Being Successful

People buy from people they like and respect. What they expect of you:

  1. Product knowledge – customers want to do business with one who knows his products and understands the “The” industry in which they participate. You are the eyes and ears of what is going on.
  2. Look sharp, be sharp – dress in a professional manner. Look successful. Your shoes and clothing should be without stains and dirt.
  3. 3 Knowing your customer – Have interest in the individual you are dealing with. Develop a profile of your customer. Remember Birthdays, family members, special interest and hobbies. Customer relationship software can be very useful in keeping track of these items.
  4. Be prompt, confirm meetings, and always be early. This goes for returned phone calls. Customers respect sales people that get back to them right away.
  5. Take rejection in a professional manner. Always know why you failed. Next time you may be the winner.
  6. Always be prepared. Be prepared shows your customer is dealing with a professional.
  7. Be active in your industry. Know the players and maintain contacts with fellow professionals.
  8. You always give a second or third effort to make sure your customer has total satisfaction with the service you provide.
  9. Always ask for the order.
  10. Your sales presentation should be well prepared and the delivery to the point. You are there to get an order not to visit. Timing is everything.
  11. Know when to listen. Nobody likes a motor mouth.
  12. Always send a thank you. A follow up note is always professional.
  13. Always be a fighter for your customer. Always be a team player
  14. Be honest
  15. Know your competitors as well as your family members. Know their weaknesses and strengths.
  16. Never take anything for granted.
  17. Body language should always be picked up. There is always a message being given.
  18. Have a plan and work your plan.
  19. Paper work is part of your responsibility. Records, order entry, credit collection. You have to be a total salesman.
  20. Make time for your family. Stay in good condition. A tired horse never runs a good race.

 

Remember if you need any assistance as you become a world class sale person SCORE counselors are available to provide free mentoring

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