How to get better at sales

Most people really suck at sales. They hate it. And I understand why. But want to suck less? Read this post.

For most people, sales is gross.

I mean, just think about it for a sec.

I say sales, you immediately think of a stereotypical, sleazy used-car salesman from an 80's movie. A fast-talking, shifty liar, who would screw over his own mother to make a commission.

Now I don't know about you, I know my business needs sales - but I don't want to be a fast-talking, shifty liar to get those sales.

And this leads to an interesting and extremely uncomfortable situation for many people.

See, we want to get clients and make money, but we don't want to have to "sell" to do that. So we try, but don't really believe in what we're doing, so often end up failing because we're doing something super unnatural.

And the real shame is often people will end up either charging a super low fee, or not getting the client in the first place, just because they just suck at sales.

So if you find yourself struggling to charge more, or you just aren't getting clients when you talk to them, you should probably read this guide.

Before you start

Before going through this, please make sure you understand one main thing.

I'm super comfortable in what I do because I know my company delivers an amazing result. We are VERY good at what we do. My entire approach is based around being highly skilled, and knowing how to deliver great results. That means, if you aren't so confident in delivering amazing results, you run the risk of becoming that shifty lying sales person we spoke about earlier.

If your skills aren't quite up to scratch, improve them. I mean, if you're selling websites and marketing services like I am, you should probably know something about design, development, marketing, advertising, business and niche industries, people and psychology, and a whole lot of other stuff. You might not know a lot yet, but don't just sit there focusing on building websites - go out and learn. Consume knowledge and understand that knowledge. Talk to people and understand them.

The more you learn, the better your skills, the more you understand about what you're doing - the easier it is to sell. After all, it's always easy to sell something that's good, right?

The Mindset of Sales

I know you're tempted to say "yeah, yeah" when you see the word mindset, and skip on to the next section.

DON'T do that.

This is legitimately VERY important, and the key to everything else in this article.

Firstly, your job isn't to convince anyone of anything. That's what sleazy sales people do. Your job is to educate people, and make a recommendation. Imagine you're a consultant, not a sales person.

Second, don't be desperate for the sale. Take on an abundance mindset. There are always more clients. You'll survive if you don't get this one. You don't need to get the sale, you just need to have a good conversation.

Third, don't blame anyone else for failure. You are responsible for your actions, so while calling the potential buyer an idiot might make you feel better, it will ultimately hold you back from figuring out what you did wrong.

Fourth, don't make shitty excuses like "that won't work for me" or "I'm not good at that" - that's just a way to avoid doing the work to get better.

Finally, understand that value matters. People are usually aiming to get the most value out of any transaction. Price is what they pay, value is what they get. They will pay more if they get a lot more out of it.

The Process of Sales

Believe it or not, selling is 100% a process.

Back in the day, that process used to involve things like prospecting, learning about the prospect, presenting or pitching, and a few other things.

But I've never found that to really work for me. It was too formal and impersonal. I mean, I'm selling to a person, and it's pretty important to them. So here's the process that I generally follow for a sales meeting.

Oh! And just keep in mind - if you don't have a process to sell, you're going to be stuck following the prospects process to buy. Guess which process will work better for you?

Okay, so my process is basically as follows:

  1. Find out about their situation. What's the problem?
  2. Find out about what they're trying to achieve. Often tied or connected to point 1.
  3. Find out what they've tried already, and what were the results.
  4. Educate them on the key points they need to consider when thinking of a solution.
  5. Make a recommendation that is in line with the key considerations.
  6. Educate them on how the recommendation solves their problems.
  7. Outline the investment required to commence.
  8. Address any issues or concerns about the recommendation or investment.
  9. Outline the next steps to move forward.

That's it. That's my process. A few key points:

  • Don't discuss your prices at the start. People will fixate on that, and then not hear about all the value you offer.
  • The start of the process is ALL about the person you're talking to. If you're talking about yourself, shut the hell up and listen to them.
  • You have no way of knowing what the right solution is without understanding the problem.
  • Education will be how you stand out from everyone else (well, assuming you know what you're talking about).

Common Challenges

There are a few common challenges I've come across over the years, that most people will probably encounter.

Taking control of the conversation: The easiest way to take control of the conversation is to ask questions. You can simply start the conversation with something like: "I'd like to ask you some questions so I make sure I understand everything and make the best possible recommendation for you. Is that okay?"

Conveying value: I hear a lot of "the people I speak to don't seem to understand how much it's worth." The common denominator is you, which means you're not actually educating them properly. Find out how much a sale is worth to them. Educate them on how design impacts on conversions, both positive and negative (this is something I can't teach in a single blog post). Then ask a very simple question: "do you think a professional and well-designed website could get you at least one sale that you would not have gotten with a poorly designed website?" If they agree, then you've already got a dollar value on how much that is worth. And of course, that's just for one sale. If they don't agree, you need to work on how you educate people.

Non engaged prospects: If the person you're speaking to isn't contributing much to the conversation... guess what. You're talking too much! Shut up. Ask more questions.

Issue with the price: hopefully if you've done things right, you won't actually have the person you're talking to say that they don't think your solution is worth it. You should have educated them enough on why it definitely is. But they might say its "expensive" or "more" than they were expecting. That's okay, you can agree that it's not cheap. But then you can let them know that it's not cheap because it works. And remember in the process, where we asked them about what else they've tried? This is the time to remind them of that one.

You think it might not be the right solution for them: just let them know it isn't, let them know why (if it isn't insulting to them), and try to point them in the direction of an appropriate solution.

What now?

Follow the process.

Try it. Learn from it.

Adapt. Evolve. Grow.

Contact me on Twitter if you have any questions, and I'll do my best to help.

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