There are lots of books and articles written on sales success - by authors much smarter than I. However, with so much information at our fingertips, I thought these simple 7 rules may prove helpful. Although basic, these common sense yet powerful rules - if done repeatedly - will become habits and contribute to your success.
1. Target - Pick a niche and become the expert in that niche. Virtually all industries have become so competitive over the years and the more successful salespeople I've worked with have dedicated endless hours to really learn the nuances of a particular vertical market. Take a real interest in becoming an expert in a specific industry, attend key industry tradeshows and know the players within that sector.
2. Be Different - Pretty simple advice and yet so difficult to achieve. If you are in a commoditized industry as I am; you need to think creatively. How can you differentiate yourself when selling on price alone? It's tough and in the end, it's a losing proposition if your entire sales posture is price.
3. Build a Team - whether you are an individual salesperson or part of a sales office, build a team and make everyone else feel like there is a common goal. You may ask, "How do I build a team when I work independently?" Easy! Make the community your team, join network groups, involve your family and "ask for help." I have met too many salespeople that are too embarrassed and proud to ask for help. Speak up. We're salespeople and it's our job and responsibility to seek out decision-makers to help us build our businesses. Be proud of what you do and by building a team, you can leverage yourself and make your business more scale-able to exponentially grow.
4. Say Thank You - And say it often. There are lots of salespeople out there all prospecting for the same customer base. When was the last time you wrote an email saying "thank you" for a new client. When was the last time you "handwrote" a letter to a client saying that you appreciate the confidence they have placed in you. If you're too lazy to write a letter, just pick up the phone periodically and check in to say hello. It's amazing how far this simple gesture will go in maintaining your attrition and solidifying your relationship.
5. Smile - have fun with your business; enjoy your successes and the gift you have to be involved in your business. As one of my business coaches once told me, we don't work very hard - working hard is doing manual labor for 14-18 hours per day in the dead of summer. Work is all relative and I think many of us have it pretty good.
6. Share - I'm amazed how many salespeople are too "scared" to share information and key learnings with fellow salespeople from competitive organizations. It's a big world out there and its naïve to think that every salesperson you know will be calling on the same prospect. In all candor, my 2 closest friends in my industry are direct competitors with me - we speak daily and have helped one another close deals and grow as industry professionals. Meet people at trade-shows, industry networking events, and begin developing great business relationships and friendships for years to come.
7. Sell Soft - Think of how you like to be treated when shopping in your neighborhood store - do you like when the salesperson is "in your face" and forcing the sale? You have a good service to offer; be confident in your sales approach and let the sale come to you. Of course, we have all been burned whereby the prospective customer has taken your proposal and shared it with the incumbent only for you to lose the sale because he matched your price. But, I feel very confident that if you sell in a respectful, diligent and soft manner that you will win more sales than you lose.