The #1 Sales Skill for Small Business Owners
No matter how well you performed your due diligence before opening the doors at your small business, once you opened them you got a few surprises. And, unless you were in sales before opening your doors, the biggest surprise you got was likely just how difficult it is to “sell.”
Selling is a skill. Now, it’s true that there are “natural born sales people” – but all that means is that they have a talent for selling; they still need to develop their skills. The great thing about skills is that we can learn new skills.
The first skill you need to learn in order to sell successfully is often learning how to change how you think about “selling.” Not sure what we mean by that? If you read the word “zebra” an image of a zebra pops up in your head. Now read the word “salesman” – what image just popped up for you? Most likely not a very positive one.
It might take you a bit of time and effort to get over the prejudices you may have about sales. Unfortunately, as with many things in life, negative experiences we have a tendency to stick to us like glue. To make things even more difficult when it comes to changing attitudes, we also often have a tendency for negative experiences to stick with us much, much longer than positive experiences.
Don’t think that’s true? Here’s a brief exercise to prove our point:
- Write down 10 bad experiences you had with a sales person in less than 3 minutes.
- Write down 10 great experiences you had with a sales person in less than 3 minutes.
We rest our case.
Do You “Hate” Selling?
Let’s face it, if you’ve got a history of “not trusting” sales people it’s going to be pretty tough to feel very good about selling. Successful sales are based on trust and, in order for your customer to trust you, you’ve got to have a strong belief that what you’re doing is of value to your customer. Hard to do if you “hate” sales.
If you hate or are “extremely uncomfortable” about selling those feelings quite likely stem from beliefs you have about the process of selling in general and sales people in particular. For instance:
- Sales people are manipulative.
- Sales people are pushy.
- Sales people lie.
Right out of the box, it is true that some sales people do/are all of the above. But not most – and certainly the Top 5% are about as far away from manipulative, pushy, and dishonest as you can get. Think about it. You don’t want people to buy from you once – you want to create loyal repeat customers who also refer other loyal repeat customers to your business. Certainly the words “manipulative, pushy, and dishonest” aren’t behaviors that are going to result in creating a loyal customer base. That means that all those bad experiences you had with sales people happened when you were buying from “bad” (under-performing, unprofessional) sales people. While it might have looked like they would do anything to make a sale, it was probably because they were desperate to make a sale because they were so bad at it. Sales people who operate like that and are successful are actually the exception and not the rule. They also frequently aren’t successful for very long periods of time.
Hopefully you’re feeling a bit relieved to find out that learning how to sell does not mean honing skills related to being manipulative, pushy, and deceitful. Most successful, top-performing sales people are the exact opposite. Instead, sales is about solving your customer’s problems and meeting their needs. It’s about having their back and bringing them value even when they don’t buy from you. Why? Because that is how you create trust – and people like to do business with people they trust.
Believing in what you’re doing isn’t the only sales skill you need to learn – but it is definitely the first thing you need to get under your belt, and in a big way. No matter how many sales books you read or seminars you attend, unless you believe in what you’re doing and that your ability to sell is a value to your customer – you run the risk of becoming that manipulative, pushy, less-than-honest image of a sales person you love to hate.
– Merchant Processing Resource
Sean Murray is the President and Chief Editor of deBanked and the founder of the Broker Fair Conference. Connect with me on LinkedIn or follow me on twitter. You can view all future deBanked events here.