While getting your first customers can seem difficult, confusing or just plain intimidating, it doesn’t have to be. There’s no need to overcomplicate things. Much of your sales success can be accomplished by simply focusing on the basics. And the good news is that you probably already know them.
Here are 12 simple tips and practices that are guaranteed to make you more effective at sales:
- Get their name right – Your prospect’s name and the company’s. Spell it correctly, and make a habit of checking before sending. Don’t call someone Jeff when they prefer Jeffrey. If the pronunciation isn’t obvious, ask. And if the company’s name is one of those merged words creations (e.g., WonderCorp), write it like they do.
- Confirm appointments – This simple habit saves you time, helps qualify the opportunity and reminds the customer that you’re thorough, reliable and professional. Add a reminder to your calendar a day or more ahead and send a confirmation email or text.
- Show up on time – If you’re calling on the right person, their time is arguably the most valuable asset they have. Don’t waste their time (or yours), and don’t get them thinking that you don’t respect it.
- It's about them – When you’re selling, it’s not about you or your service. Ever. Customers become customers so that they can pay you to solve a problem for them. Keep that front of mind and your sales success rate will improve. Dramatically.
- Learn to ask the tough questions – To determine if there is a good fit between what the customer needs and what you can deliver, you need information. How serious is the problem? How willing are they to address it, and how soon? And can they afford you? You can’t qualify an opportunity or make a customer successful without answers to some tough questions.
- Do what you say you're going to do – Salespeople that don’t follow through is almost a cliché. Differentiate yourself by delivering on your commitments and promises. And don’t promise what you can’t deliver.
- Deliver on time (or early) – In sales, time and competing priorities are two of your biggest obstacles. By responding promptly and effectively, you maintain momentum and reinforce the perception that you’re reliable and professional. And customers want to work with partners with these qualities.
- Everyone matters – Everybody is a customer. Not just those in the C-suite. To learn how your customer operates, where to find the serious problems, what the politics are, don’t forget the administrative assistants, AVPs, middle managers, line workers, etc. Treat them with the respect and interest they deserve and they will tell you exactly what you need to know.
- Get to the point – People are busy. Value their time and be succinct. Say what you need to say, then shut up and listen.
- Confirm the next step – Sales effectiveness is all about momentum. If there is reason to move forward on a deal, get agreement on the next steps and who is involved. And then get it scheduled while you’re with your customer.
- Be yourself – It’s too much work to fight against your natural style. If you’re casual and friendly, go with it. And if you’re serious and buttoned-down by nature, make that work for you. If your sales approach is an act, customers will see right through it. Your best sales strategy is being professional and being yourself.
- It should be fun – When done well, sales should be enjoyable. You’re helping people, developing relationships, and demonstrating your expertise. Perhaps most importantly, you’re validating your solution is worth paying for. And if that isn’t rewarding, what is?
That’s it. Twelve simple habits that are guaranteed to elevate your sales game.
And for a 13th sales tip, print this out and pin it up where you can see it every day. Make it part of your core sales practice and enjoy the better results that come with a focus on fundamentals.