A common lament among employees-turned-entrepreneurs is that they are unaccustomed to scratching for business. They’ve left the security of a company where business development was someone else’s responsibility. Now they’re on their own, and as Henry Ford famously said, “Nothing happens until someone sells something.”
Lately I’ve found new admiration for those “pull-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps” heroes of American business who could sell just about anything to anyone.
Oh how I wish that I had forced myself earlier in life to learn the art of selling. What great preparation that would have been for what I need to do now to grow my business.
And what an eye-opener it would be for many employees of large organizations to learn how business really comes in the door. How the success of the sales team determines the success of the entire company. How every employee, regardless of his job, should be helping to preserve existing business or working to find new business.
I don’t mean to put sales people on a pedestal. Unfortunately, there are far too many unethical ones out there who cut corners, overpromise and underdeliver.
I’m talking about the decent, hard-working guys and gals who care about their customers, consistently come through for them and always deliver superior price and service. Now that’s something to emulate.
So here are six essential rules for selling. Follow these, and I guarantee you will be successful!
- You have to like yourself. If you aren’t happy, if you have a bad attitude about life, you aren’t going to be able to sell anything. Period. Which leads to the corollary…
- You have to like your product and company. If you don’t believe in the products and services you sell, and the company you work for, how do you expect your customers to? You just can’t fake your way to the top. You absolutely have to love what you’re doing. It will show in every gesture you make and every word you utter.
- You have to like people. Technical prowess is no substitute for people skills. Showing respect and genuinely connecting with others is what wins clients, not glib talk or facile PowerPoint presentations.
- The customer is always right. I recently had a bad experience with Verizon Wireless which reminded me that poor customer service is the surest way to torpedo your company’s “good will” and tarnish its brand. Marshall Field is credited with saying the customer is always right, and I find the best sales people never fail to put their customers first.
- Offer solutions, not excuses. Successful sales people are the first to admit they are wrong or they don’t know the answer, but they are also the first to propose solutions and find the right answers. They never make excuses or engage in the “blame game.”
- Be a team player. Show me a highly successful sales person, and I’ll show you someone who is quick to give credit to others, share leads and help everyone in the company succeed. Barracudas may have killer instincts, but building lasting relationships is the key to stable growth and repeat business—and that takes everyone on the team working together.
How are your sales skills? Are you building a winning sales culture at your organization? Or are you waiting for someone else to “sell something”?