I recently read a great article that spoke about the key to sales. The article stated that sales is not about what you are selling, but about making friends and getting someone to see the world the way you do. If you can do that, everything else will take care of itself.
I’ve had several people over the years ask me, “What makes you tick?” and “What do you attribute your success to?” For me, it is about entertaining myself through my connection with others. I enjoy telling stories and hearing stories. I am always fascinated by what my clients have done, what they are now doing, and what they are planning to do. As a result, after almost 40 years in sales, I can tell you that I still enjoy it as much, if not more, as I did when I first entered the field. Below are ten tips from New York Times article that I personally live by.
1. You can sell only if you yourself are convinced: If you are not sold on the product or service, it will be an uphill battle to sell someone else. Your lack of conviction will scream through.
2. Be clear and direct: When pitching, do not use complicated diction. Pride yourself instead on being able to explain the concept as quickly, clearly and simply as possible. This is important because the biggest problem in sales is client confusion. Confusion does not lead to a “Yes.”
3. Pressure is an art: Creating FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) in your client’s mind can be a good thing because it will lead to serious consideration of your concept. In the TerraCycle world, we award brand exclusivity by country and by category. Often, I need to tell potential clients that their competition is also speaking with us. The trick is to mention this once and to NOT rub it in, which is likely to anger them. No one is angered into saying, “Yes.”
4. Know your client: Make sure to research your potential clients, know their challenges and their needs. One size hardly ever fits all, and you look much stronger than your competition if you show that you care about the business enough to invest in the research. I can’t tell you how many times I get cold calls from sales people who don’t even know what TerraCycle does.
5. It’s all about the presentation: Building an amazing deck is critical to the sales process. Practice it, memorize it, and be prepared to shift your emphasis based on how the energy changes when you present. Internally, we always ask ourselves, “Is the flow of this deck right? Is the presentation convincing?”
6. Be passionate and exciting: Most presentations are BORING! So create a show and make it exciting. Excitement is contagious – just like a yawn.
7. If you don’t know the answer, do not guess: People will ask you tough questions, and you may not always know the answer. The person asking you may be testing you, knowing the answer full well. And if you fumble, it’s very hard to rebuild credibility. Do not guess.
8. Answer questions directly and clearly: If you are asked a question and you give a “politician’s answer” – in other words, if you don’t answer the question – your credibility will decline, and you will hurt your chances of making the sale.
9. Humor is a great conversation starter: Funny stories always break the ice. For example, our employees use stamps to leave our contact info. It’s eco-friendly, it never runs out and it makes for a nice icebreaker at the beginning of every meeting.
10. You can always be better: Sales is an art, not a science. Which means it’s never perfect and can always improve. TerraCycle has a standard sales deck most of our associates use. We’ve gone through 94 versions in the last three years and version 95 is around the corner.
Bottom line: Sales is a critical function that is more art than science, so hone your art. Lastly, sharing is caring, so please be sure to share any of your own sales tips with your peers.