So, you’ve decided to become a salesperson! Whether you sell cars, health insurance, alarm systems, coke machines, or textbooks, you probably are nervous to get out there and make a sale. Maybe you’ve seen the success of others in the sales profession and want in on the action. Or maybe you have switched professions because you have found you aren’t passionate about what you do and want to try a new avenue. No matter your background, making a sale can be overwhelming. What are some things that you can work on so that you can have success in this new endeavour? Here are 5 steps that will get you started on the path to success.
1. Know Your Stuff
Before you can go out and talk to people about your product, let’s say alarm systems, you need to know what the company you represent offers their customers. Read up on what you’re about to sell to someone! Being prepared is vital, start by writing what you know about the product. Then write down how the product can help the customer. Finally write down ANY and ALL questions you think the customer might have about the product or company. When you’ve made those three lists, look over them and answer all the questions. Typically you will be able to answer most questions with the information you have already written down, and if you can’t, research more information until you’ve found the answer and then add it to the list. Having a comprehensive list of what you know and any doubts that might be presented by the customer promotes confidence.
Knowing your stuff about your own products is not enough, you need to know what else is out there. No matter what you’re selling there is a high likelihood that you have competitors. You’ve got to be ready to defend the product you’re selling against what your competitors are offering. You can never be too prepared. Write down competitors products and compare them to what you offer.
2. Create a 30 second “elevator” pitch
Now that you are prepared with an excess of information, create a short pitch from it. This short pitch has been referred to as an elevator pitch, meaning it’s a pitch you could give someone in the time it takes for you to travel to another floor in an elevator. When constructing this short pitch, keep in mind that people are busy! You need to be able to pitch your product or service to them in that short span so that they will want to know more. Be clear, what problem does your product solve? And how will that help the person you are approaching? If the potential customer can see the need for the product they will likely take the time to set up another time to meet.
Being prepared is just the beginning of success in sales. Once you know your stuff and are familiar with as many aspects as possible, practice the pitch! Ray Bradbury, a famous novelist and screenwriter said, “Hard work pays off. If you want to be good, you have to practice, practice, practice.” This applies as much to you as a salesperson as it does to an author or artist or athlete.
The more you practice, the more familiar you will become with the pitch. As you are more familiar with the pitch, you will be able to adapt the pitch to the different people you approach. Friends, family, even co-workers will be willing to hear your pitch and give feedback to you as you practice what to say over and over again.
4. Make a pitch deck
Now that you’ve researched, made an elevator pitch, and practiced and practiced, you will need to create a pitch deck. Making a pitch deck can be a lot of work, but never fear! You have most of it already done thanks to step number one. Using the information you’ve already written down, open up powerpoint or google slides or whatever you are going to use and create a presentation. Don’t feel like you need to put everything in the presentation, do bullet points, summarizing important information and be sure to include pictures or graphs or video clips. It has been said that a picture is worth a thousand words. Identify visual aids the will help communicate your message better than words can. Having a pitch deck will help you as you present to future customers by keeping you on point, clearly communicating your message and giving you confidence because you are prepared.
5. Get to work
The greatest teacher is experience, so get out there and get to work! Start with your warm market. “Warm market” means getting in contact with all those people you know or that your family or friends know. You will always have a warmer reception from a member of your network or a referral. Ask friends and family for referral and ask those you meet with for referrals as well. Always talk with each referral from friends, family, or others for two reasons. First of all it shows respect to your network and that you value their assistance. Second, even when the prospect may not seem like they have a need for our service, you never know.
Once you’ve exhausted this warm market, identify the next group of potential customers. Will you need to go out and knock doors in a neighborhood? Or do you have a list of prospects from the company that you need to cold call? Maybe you need to get out there yourself and find the people who have a problem your product can solve? Whatever the case, you are in control. The more people you talk to, the more likely you will be to find success.
Being a salesperson can be hard, but it can also be very rewarding. As you hone your skills as a salesperson, you will find that the rewards outweigh the difficulties. These 5 steps are only the beginning of a lifelong learning process as you continue your career in sales. Good luck and get to work!