Wednesday, 28 May 2008

'Sell' Is Not An Expletive

When I started work in my early 20s, I was so naïve that I didn't ‘do’ sales. I didn’t think it was something I needed to be bothered with. How wrong I was. When I got more responsibility and moved up the ranks, of course I saw that the essence of every single business is Sales. No exception.

Sell is not a dirty word; it’s what we all do and you’ll need to embrace it to be successful. Yet when I have worked on projects and ventures and we’ve been discussing sales needs, some team members have shied away from the S Word.

Too many think that being a good sales person is about wearing a smart suit and hawking a PowerPoint presentation round to visit targets. Or worse, cold-calling companies trying to get them interested in your product or service. It’s not. You’re actually selling yourself, your ideas, your product and your abilities.

Being a good salesperson is about being flexible in your approach; identifying and recognising what currency of communication will turn-on your target clients; and communicating that effectively. It’s hard work, rarely easy. Some of us are better than others at it but we all have to sell. Staring at a blank spreadsheet with no orders can be daunting but remember sales is about establishing relationships. If you are going to be an entrepreneur, you are going to be selling all the time.

Don’t jump in with a hard sell; learn to understand your target’s culture, objectives, challenges and needs. It takes time, patience – and often a lunch or two – but once you get to know your client it’s easy to understand what it will take for them to make that commitment to your ideas and your product.

People talk about the trick of closing a sale as one of the most difficult things in business. Well, don’t underestimate opening a sale, just starting the sales process. Undoubtedly this is one of the toughest things when you work for yourself.

Of course sometimes a client will approach you or respond to a piece of marketing which makes it an easier sell. The psychology of them wanting something from you will aid your ability to strike a good deal. But doing that deal, negotiating at the right price still takes skill and experience.

So put on your sales hat. Getting knock backs and rejections is never fun, but winning a bit of business - now that always feels good.

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