“In the beginning” the serpent sold Eve the apple. You can say she bought it wholesale and retailed it to Adam.
As you know, that was the most expensive transaction that ever happened. It costs humans their lives up to this day.
A lot has changed since the first sale occurred.
You can get better at selling and join the top 5 percent of salespeople if you do what they do.
What are the things the top salespeople do that make them great?
There are 15 things great salespeople do.
1. Great salespeople ask questions
If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution, I would spend the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask, for once I know the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes. — Albert Einstein
When was the last time you met someone and said to yourself: “This is a complete waste of time?”
It’s most probably because the person you met asked the wrong questions. Or worse, they didn’t ask any engaging questions that can get you talking. As a result, the meeting was boring.
Knowing who you are selling to is vital. You want to know a person’s hot buttons so you can push them.
People are different. What motivated Mr. A to buy may be different from what motivates Mr. B.
2. Great salespeople are persistent
If there’s one most important thing I’ve learned from sales, it’s the fact that many times, it takes more than one call, one email, one letter, one cold call or one decision maker to convert a sale.
I was amazed when I saw these two facts:
- 44% of people give up after one follow-up
- 80% of sales require five follow-ups
Because a prospect said “no” the first or second time doesn’t mean you don’t have any chance of converting that prospect.
3. Great salespeople believe in the product they sell
If you don’t believe in your product’s ability to deliver the benefits promised, you’ll have a hard time convincing people to buy it.
Fifty-one percent of all closing effectiveness comes from your enthusiasm, your excitement about your product or service. — Brian Tracy
A sale takes place after you’ve transferred your excitement about your product to the prospect.
4. Great salespeople tell stories
Tell me a fact and I’ll learn. Tell me a truth and I’ll believe. But tell me a story and it will live in my heart forever. — Indian Proverb
Features tell prospects what they can do with your product. Stories tell them what they can achieve with your product.
Stories are the things that sell a product.
Tell success stories of people who used your product and got real results.
Here are a few stories of people who use Basecamp:
Stories paint pictures in the minds of prospects. They see themselves in the stories you share.
Stories are powerful because they transport us into other people’s worlds, but, in doing that, they change the way our brains work and potentially change our brain chemistry — and that’s what it means to be a social creature. — Paul Zak
5. Great salespeople are good looking
For years, brands have been using attractive people to sell their products.
There’s a general belief that “what is attractive is good.”
Scientists claim they’ve discovered why sex sells. They found that seeing an attractive woman or man in an advert excites the areas of the brain that makes us want to buy on impulse, bypassing the sections of the brain which control rational thought.
Physical attractiveness is important in sales.
You have to be attractive to have any chance of gaining a prospect’s attention. People judge a book by its cover.
If a book is ugly-looking, you won’t be compelled to touch it no matter how cool its title is.
In fact, physical attractiveness affects almost every profession.
Studies have shown that good-looking people earn more money and generate higher sales results.
Attractive people charm interviewers, get hired faster and get more raises.
Start by taking good care of your body.
Here are four places to start from:
- Cleanliness: Your hair, teeth, nails, breath, and personal hygiene. Customers pay attention to these things.
- Wardrobe: You will have a competitive edge if you look like a highly trained professional.
- Attitude: Wear clothes that help you maintain a positive and confident attitude about your body and mind.
- Nutrition: Missing a meal means missing on good nutrition. Also, eating healthy provides your body with the vital nutrients it needs to perform well.
6. Great salespeople are great listeners
The better you become at listening, the more you sell.
Above, I mentioned that “great salespeople ask questions.” Yes, asking questions is an effective way of getting into a prospect’s head. But that advice can only be helpful when you listen.
Great salespeople are also great listeners. Listening helps you understand the true needs of a potential client.
7. Great salespeople share
We live in a sharing world.
People are sharing their rides: Lyft.
People are sharing their homes: Airbnb.
People are sharing their wealth. People help non-profits like Wikipedia and Khan Academy thrive.
We’ve also seen the emergence of crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter, GoFundMe, and Indiegogo.
A teenage woman with a black boyfriend raised $35,000 on GoFundMe because her racist parents are no longer supporting her future.
A GoFundMe user wrote “I want to fight for you here from Norway. This world will not go forward if we can’t love the one we love. All luck from me.”
Salespeople shouldn’t be self-centered. It’s shouldn’t always be about what you can get. Care about what you can give people.
You’ll attract new customers and keep existing ones when you share valuable things for free.
It could be prizes. It could be a little bit of help. It could be free consulting.
8. Great salespeople are great communicators
If prospects find it difficult to understand your messages, then you have a big obstacle to overcome.
It’s not about what you sell alone. People also want to know you as a person.
There are times when it’s appropriate (and even expected of you) to get personal.
Great salespeople know that the relationships you build through selling can serve you well for the rest of your life.
Good communication skills are “must-haves” to become a successful salesperson.
9. Great salespeople smile
Successful salespeople who have developed a strong rapport with their customers know the importance of a smile.
Smiling indicates that you are open, friendly, relaxed and likable.
A smile is a powerful asset for salespeople who want to build long-term relationships. It can help you land big contracts.
You must smile without forcing yourself to do it. This takes practice.
Smile when talking about your company.
Smile when you’re on phone calls.
Smile in speaking engagements.
Smile during video-conference calls.
Smile in your pictures, and most importantly, your professional headshot.
For example, take a look at the profile picture of Jeff Weiner, the CEO of LinkedIn:
That’s a big smile on his face.
10. Great salespeople ask for the sale at the right times
Only 2% of the sales occur at the first meeting.
As I mentioned earlier, 44% of salespeople give up after the first “no.”
You should not only continue asking for the sale, at least, five times before giving up. You should also be asking for the sale at the appropriate times.
Don’t be so hell-bent on getting the sale that you don’t know when it’s inappropriate to ask.
Ask for the sale five times, but also ensure that you are asking when a prospect is more likely to respond to you.
The right thing at the wrong time is the wrong thing. — Joshua Harris
It’s good to know when a prospect considers the right time to call. Don’t be afraid to ask. You can also get this valuable information from people who are close to them.
According to a study by InsideSales, the best days to contact prospects are Wednesdays and Thursdays, and the best times are 4:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m.
11. Great salespeople get continuous sales education
We live in a constant changing world where innovative tools that make our lives easier and better are being introduced almost every year.
To stay at the forefront of selling anything to consumers, you must continue learning and using the new tools available at your disposal.
New platforms emerge each year. As a salesperson, you should be one of the first people to be there.
When top social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat were launched, smart salespeople quickly get on these platforms. They learned how they work, and started connecting and selling to people there.
Read marketing blogs, magazines, books, and news websites on a regular basis to learn about new platforms and how to take advantage of the existing ones.
I’m a big fan of Marketing Land. You can subscribe to get their daily Marketing Day newsletter.
I also read TechCrunch.
Although it’s a technology and startup blog, a lot of things happen in the tech and startup fields that affect marketers. That is why I highly recommend reading TechCrunch.
12. Great salespeople understand who they are selling to
A salesperson should have a full understanding of his/her prospect.
Who buys the product you sell?
After you’ve recognized your target customers, you should visit their social profiles and analyze their social updates.
What do they like talking about?
What do they like doing for fun?
What other related products do they buy?
What blogs do they read?
Get as much information you can about your customers. The more you know about them, the higher your chances of selling them anything.
13. Great salespeople understand what they are selling
Almost all sales experts agree that having a basic knowledge of the product you are selling helps you sell more.
Understanding how the whole product works will allow you to demonstrate the product well to potential customers.
When you know everything you need to know about a product and fully understand how it works, it strengthens your communication skills, boosts your enthusiasm for the product and grows your confidence. This leads to the next important point.
14. Great salespeople know how to handle objections
Handling objections can be a bit tricky. It’s a skill you have to learn to be a successful salesperson.
When a prospect gives you a strong reason why he/she can’t buy your product, you shouldn’t start by arguing why it’s the best, or why they should buy it.
There are six steps you should take to deal with objections effectively.
Step 1: Show gratitude by thanking them for putting their objection in front of you. (Keep in mind that an objection is better than a “no”.)
Step 2: Empathize with prospects to connect with them on a personal level. By empathizing with customers, they are more likely to open up and share more about themselves.
Step 3: Try to learn more about them. If you can get customers talking about themselves, then you are very close to converting them. The purpose of this third step is to develop a deeper connection with prospects.
Step 4: Ask them more questions if possible. Your goal here is to learn where the objection is coming from. It’s important to keep the conversation going and moving deeper.
Step 5: Show customers the value they will get. Customers don’t buy products/services. Value is what they buy.
For example, Bellroy sells thinner-than-typical wallets.
What’s the value their product offers?
The value is carrying your wallet without the surface of ugly lumps in your pockets. That’s what their customers buy and Bellroy demonstrates that on their website.
Step 6: Back up your product with some proofs and customer references. When customers start to hear people or brands who have benefited from buying your product, they are likely to feel convinced.
15. Great salespeople know that it’s a numbers game
Maybe, it feels like you’re still missing a magic secret for selling. The truth is there’s no secret.
Great salespeople know that selling is all a numbers game.
How many prospects did you cold-call last week?
Ten? Twenty? Thirty?
What if you double that number?
Sometimes, the best place to start is the data you have with you right now.
If you see an average of 5% conversion rate for every 100 cold calls, why not double your calls? There’s a big chance you’ll increase the number of new clients when you do so.
Selling isn’t rocket science. Most times, you just have to increase your work input to improve results.
What other tips do you know that make some people better at selling than others?
Tell me using the comment box below.