Many years ago, I had the impression that selling wasn’t in my DNA. I didn’t understand at the time why I needed to care about sales since I wasn’t responsible for new business. Nor did I think I was good at it.
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So imagine my surprise when an early mentor told me I was, in fact, very good at selling. He explained that when I was truly excited about something, and invested in it, I was the best advocate (and, as a result, best salesperson) you could find.
I also gained valuable sales techniques working for one of the largest home-service franchisors in the United States. Today, I advise other entrepreneurs on how to brush up their sales skills if they truly want to do more than just own their businesses. Even with the success of the Internet and ecommerce, business owners still have to be very good at sales to develop and grow a profitable business.
Now, here's the problem: In an entrepreneurial business, often the person who developed it is not the one who ends up selling the concept, product or service. Yet, if you're the owner, leaving that selling task to others can be a mistake -- especially early on -- because customers want to know there is leadership behind the brand. They want to see that passion which the best salespeople have.
So, if you're the owner and don't want -- or can't -- generate that kind of buzz, if promoting your business in more customer-friendly ways is a better fit, here are three sales tips any entrepreneur can use and pass on to his or her salespeople:
Listening is harder than it seems. Try to spend more time listening than talking. And instead of waiting (or interrupting) just to get your point across, let it go. Don’t think about how you will respond, but rather tune into what is being said. Whether you are trying to sell a product, a service or your own brand, listening is an often overlooked sales tool. Every potential customer wants to be heard.
2. Solve a problem.
A great salesperson solves a customer’s problem. It could be a small problem or a large problem, but finding out what that problem is and then offering a solution is a huge part of salesmanship. It also ties into tip number one -- listening. If you listen correctly, you’ll be able to read between the lines and find out what the real problem is. It could be something very different from what you think. But if you can solve it, you are the hero.
Related: The 10 Biggest Mistakes in Sales
3. Meet or exceed customer expectations.
Did you ever buy something from an individual or a business who not only met, but far exceeded, your expectations? Do you remember that experience? It felt really great and you probably told a few people about it too.
The Ritz-Carlton is known throughout the world for its Motto, Credo and 3 Steps of Service. The second step of service says that employees will provide: “anticipation and fulfillment of each guest's needs.” The Ritz-Carlton brand is known for exceeding expectations, and every employee is empowered to do that, as an extension of the brand. So, in essence, each employee is a brand ambassador and an integral part of the company's sales team. Adapt the Ritz standards as your own sales model.
You do not have to hard-sell for your business to get ahead. The Ritz-Carlton’s Gold Standard is a perfect example. The brand is passionate about providing the best possible service, so much so that selling the brand is a natural extension of its service.
Part of the brand’s success involves the three tips above. So, if you aren’t comfortable with high-pressure sales, you can still be a great salesperson for your business by following these tips and empowering your staff to do the same.