A lot of entrepreneurs run into trouble when they don’t go out and actively sell.
Selling is hard.
And most people are not natural born sales people. But it’s selling that brings in the bread. Nothing else you do matters if you’re not out selling.
The best thing most companies can do is find someone who can sell. But barring that, the best thing to do is take the leap and go out and start selling. And spend considerable time on it. Whatever it takes. Once you get your first sale, don’t stop. Keep the ball rolling and push even harder.
Introducing … ICON! It’s a little acronym I put together to make understanding the selling process easier. From preparation, to sealing the deal. Step by step.
Invest, Connect, Organize and Nail it Down
Step 1. Invest
This is where all your prepartion happens. Put in the time to know everything you can about whatever you’re selling. Play with it. Try and break it. Find out who the competition is. What do they have that you don’t have? What features and benefits are most important to your customers? Who ARE your customers?
The more answers you have, the less likely you’re going to be caught off guard. And the more confidence you’re going to have. The caveat of “investing” is that you don’t get stuck here. Give yourself a set time frame to learn as much as you can, and then hit step 2. That’s where you’re going to get the valuable feedback you need to really invest anyway.
Step 2. Connect
It’s time to get out and bang on doors. Selling is not waiting for customers to walk in the door. It’s going out and getting them. There are a lot of ways you can do this. Here are a few:
- Cold calling. It has a bad reputation, but done right, it’s the best place to start when you’ve got nothing. The key is to not try and sell anything. Drop in and introduce yourself. Find out a little about the potential customer, leave some propaganda, and get out. Then drop by a month or so later and let them know about your latest and hottest deal. The most successful sales people I know go out and knock on doors. Or just call people up. They have no fear and no lack of confidence.
- Trade shows. Just about every industry has some kind of trade show. Get a booth or if that’s too intense find a strategic partner or a broker. A lot of times sales brokers bring in a cast of the people they represent to their booths. This cuts down your cost for the show, and you’ve got some pro sellers right there to help you lock in the deals.
- Venture out. Just get out and meet people. Get involved in community events, team sports, hobby shows. Make conversation with people wherever you go. Become a member of your town SBA (Small Business Association). Connect, connect, connect.
- Join the circus. Hey, if you thought cold calling was tough, strap on a chicken suit and go parading down the street. The idea is to get attention. A friend of mine was hyping his own home-made version of the movie Jackass. He called up the media and gave them a time and location and told them they were going to set one of the “stars” on fire as a stunt. Now, they’re not THAT crazy. He had no intention of doing that. But when he got there the police and a couple of firetrucks were waiting. So was the media. And that attracted a crowd of people. He sold a bunch of DVDs that day and got some press.
Step 3. Organize
The less your customers have to do to complete the sale, the better. Make it easy. Do the work so they don’t have to. If they have to do more than fill out a credit application and write you a check, that’s too much.
If you need a bunch of technical information, sit down with them. And YOU fill out the questionnaire while you go through it with them. Organize delivery. Organize the setup and the training and whatever else needs to happen. Make it easy. This kind of service wins out every time.
Step 4. Nail it Down
A sale is half done once you’ve got a signature on the dotted line. It’s completely done once you get paid. You can get all the way up to the point where it’s time to sign up, and lose a sale. This is where you pull out your last ditch incentives. “If we can lock this in right now …”.
If you get a half-baked commitment and then no promised phone call, follow up. Show up. Bring a freebie. Be accessible. Invaluable. Available. And ready.
So there it is. That’s how to be a sales ICON.
Now where’d I put that chicken suit …