Have a question about your business? Let’s see if I can help; write your question in the thread: found here. -- Steve
Q: Hey Steve, I love running my own business but I am not a natural salesperson. Any advice for an entrepreneur like me?
A. I have good news for you. While I am not a sales expert, I have had the opportunity to interview a lot of great salespeople and sales experts over the years. What I have learned is that sales is a field that can be learned – and that a few tricks along the way can help.
Here are three of my favorites:
1. Listen more, talk less: Master salesman Tom Hopkins told me that if you want to increase your sales, it would be wise to remember that we have one mouth but two ears. Says Hopkins: “Listen twice as much as you talk and you’ll succeed in persuading others nearly every time.”
And what should you be listening for?
2. Listen for clues: People learn and process information in different ways. Some people think in words, others think in pictures, and still others are primarily kinesthetic (that is, feelings are paramount for them.) Understanding the way in which a prospect interprets information can allow you to craft your pitch in a way that works best for them (instead of best for you.)
- Visual people say things like, “I see what you mean.”
- Kinesthetic people say things like, “This computer just doesn’t feel right to me.”
- Auditory people might say, “I like the sound of that.”
These sorts of word clues can help you communicate better with leads. For example, it would be best to show a visual person what makes your product great, rather than just telling them with words.
3. Remember, it’s about helping, not selling: The purpose of tailoring your pitch appropriately is not to manipulate someone into buying something they may or may not want, but rather, to build rapport and show the prospect that you are more about helping them solve their problem and less about making the sale. Do that, ironically, and your odds of making the sale go up dramatically.
Q: I am a wedding and event photographer and my issue is that I never seem to make enough money to feel flush. It’s not for lack of trying, that’s for sure.
Let me share a story with you of someone who solved this exact problem.
I have a pal who sells real estate in Los Angeles. Like many real estate agents, he started out selling homes for a living. And a nice living it was … until it wasn’t. Things turned south for him in 2008 and he didn’t know what to do. So, he sought out his mentor – a wise and experienced real estate broker who had been around the block a few times – and asked him what to do.
A: “Fish for, and catch, bigger fish,” was his answer.
The mentor explained that it essentially would take my friend the same amount of effort to sell a seven-figure commercial property as it did for him to sell a six-figure house, but the paydays on the former would be much better.
My buddy heeded his mentor’s advice and jumped in, learning about commercial real estate, cultivating the corporate owners of such properties and altogether embarking on a tangentially new career. Although it took him two years, it was worth it. He discovered that his mentor was right – bigger clients meant bigger deals and yes, bigger paydays. It also meant better pay for less work because he needed to do fewer deals.
All in all, it worked out very well for him and, I bet, it could for you too.
Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can also listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success.© Steven D. Strauss.
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