This article originally appeared on Inc.com as part of BusinessBlocks CEO Justin Kulla’s weekly Inc. Magazine column. See the original post here.
You’ve started your business and you believe in your product–now you have to sell it. Enter- sweaty palms and racing heart. You were confident in taking the plunge in starting a business from scratch and yet you are uncomfortable with selling.
As Walt Disney said, “The difference between winning and losing is most often not quitting.” Successful selling is as much as getting started and overcoming the initial hurdle.
Small businesses contribute 44 percent of all sales in the country and you are now one of them! Most small business owners will find themselves in the role of chief (or solo) salesman. You are selling yourself along with your product or service.
Know your product.
“Knowing your product” is probably the most important tool for any salesperson. You are already “sold” on your product because you developed it. Transmitting your enthusiasm is essential in your sales calls either by phone or in-person. It’s a conversation- not a test. But rejection is uncomfortable and can certainly demoralize you. Be prepared for days when you can’t jump-start and you need the home run to re-charge. My Dad has been a small business owner for close to 40 years and still has to deal with rejection.. Here are a few key tips he gave me about how to cope:
The doldrums days are enemies to a salesperson. Take a break- even a short walk out of the office or away from your desk can get you pumped. Take an exercise break, if that works for you- adrenaline flow never hurts. Take a break from calls and review the product to see if you can tweak your presentation. Practice the presentation.
Push past rejection- contact a potential but reluctant client with some interesting information about your product or service. Learn their particular needs so you can personalize your approach. Try to establish an opening to contact them again for the sale. My father is adept at establishing customer relationships and he has been surprised a number of times by a formerly reluctant customer contacting him because he remembered the sales interaction as a positive one.
Don’t be pushy.
Be friendly! Direct and professional friendliness is the gift of successful salespeople. We all fear the moniker of the pushy and aggressive salesperson. Eliminate any adversarial component from your approach. You want to close the sale but you need to smooth the path. If your client is agreeable to some friendly (no politics or religion) conversation you will have established a personal link. Also, research your client and their needs- including any relevant current news items. Try www.yougotthenews.com.Developing a friendly sales relationship will be productive for future sales or even future leads. My Dad has been surprised (he shouldn’t be) by the referral business he has received from potential clients that he has not even closed deals with. They were impressed with his professionalism and knowledge of the product and enthusiasm.
Keep your attention on this goal. Present some definite choices- not too many. If you get a polite “I’ll think it over”, counter with a friendly reminder on a limit of availability or delivery. Reiterate the points where the product could benefit the client (after all it is their money) and never end a presentation aggressively. It is helpful to see if you can set up a definite follow-up call allowing the client the time to digest your information but not forget you.
Selling is a test of guts and endurance. If you are an owner who will be salesman then you can create a personal relationship with your clients. This is the heart of “small business.”