You have to help your customer visualize what will happen if their current problems continue.
I used to be really bad at sales.
In the early 2000s, I wanted to book shows for my band but had no idea how to persuade people to listen to me. This was way before Myspace, so I built my own social media site, and it became one of the fastest growing online communities in Sweden.
The idea was simple: photographers documented parties over the weekend, and users would visit the site to check out the photos. To monetize, I had to sell ads.
But sales didn’t come naturally to me.
So I started reading a ton of books and going to seminars and workshops. I asked salespeople for adviceon how to convey a message to potential customers, and I then put the advice to action by going up to random people and trying to persuade them to book my band or buy ads for my site.
The results weren’t pretty. I failed, failed again, and then failed some more.
But after each experience, I analyzed what I could have done differently. By understanding and honing my techniques, I gained an awareness of what worked and what didn’t. Although it takes years to truly master sales, I began seeing positive results after just a couple of weeks. I closed deals for ad banners on my site and managed to get a local taxi company to put my site’s logo on all their cars—for free.
This experience gave me the confidence that with enough practice, I could excel at selling.
While I believe in outsourcing anything you’re not good at, sales is worth learning. That’s because sales is a life skill, not a professional one. No matter what you do, being good at sales will help you communicate and get what you want in all areas of your life: professional, family, and even romantic relationships.
Here are three ways to make sales your strength:
1: Start with the basics.
Sales 101 is learning how to have conversations with people.
It may sound really basic, but a lot of people can’t hold a conversation for very long without panicking and running out of things to talk about. If you’re not a good conversationalist, you won’t be able to pitch or sell anything. People will only buy from you if they trust you, so it’s vital to know how to establish rapport and converse smoothly.
A big part of doing this is listening before you speak, and listening more than you speak.
For example, you can show interest by asking open-ended questions to find out what problems your customer is struggling with. Once they explain their pain points, you’ll have to dig a little deeper by asking what will happen if these problems continue for the foreseeable future.
It may require coaxing, but you have to help your customer visualize what will happen if their current problems continue. Once they’re imagining all the lost revenue and missed opportunities, you offer to heal their pain with the solution—your product or service.
And it all starts with a simple conversation.
2: Remain confident no matter what.
Once you’ve listened to the other person, you need to display your confidence to close the deal.
Some people are naturally confident, but for most of us, confidence is a learned trait. You have to gain it through studying and real-world experience.
I learned to be confident by studying people who were more successful than me.
I paid attention to their body language, how they spoke, and how they responded to different situations. And I tried to mimic their confidence. Eventually, with enough practice and successful experiences under my belt, I began to feel confident in my ability to sell.
3: Believe in your product.
It’s essential that you believe in what you’re selling. After all, if you don’t have confidence that something is valuable, how will you make other people believe in it?
There are plenty of snake oil scammers who use mock confidence to sell you garbage, but I’m talking about real professionals here who have conviction in what they’re selling.
The best way to convince others of your belief is to use the product yourself.
It’s not enough to learn the features and benefits of the product—anyone can do this in a few hours or a day. Instead, you want to try it out, see if you can break it, figure out how it works. By going deep, you’ll have all the answers from personal experience when a prospect asks you about the product.
Becoming a great salesperson takes work, and you’ll face a lot of rejection along the way. But learning how to converse with confidence and knowing the product you’re selling will make it easier to draw people into your pitch—and start closing deals.