How To Be A Sales ICON

Sales ICON

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 …

10 thoughts on “How To Be A Sales ICON”

  1. Excellent technique, ICON. You should try to pitch this to sales training companies or companies that have in-house sales training (i.e. Cingular)

    i’ve done sales for years and im not even 20, and it is so hard at first but there is SOOOO much money in it if you are persistent.

  2. Hey Coop,

    Yeah, smart companies throw a nice premium at their salespeople. These are the people that are tasked with paying for everybody else’s salary. And the rent. And the lights. Everything.

    And pitch it … I just did!

    Imagine the value all those companies can get just by subscribing to my RSS feed. Unshakable value … and mercilessly cheap 🙂

  3. This is my day job. I sell advertising every day.

    The easiest way to sell your product is to get involved in the community. Join the BBB, join the Chamber of Commerce. Network, network, network.

    People do business not because they want to spend money, but because they like the person. It’s a proven fact.

    — Scot

  4. A great article – what stood out for me was your comment, “The most successful sales people I know … have no fear and no lack of confidence.”

    I completely agree and identify with this – you really have to have no fear and be able to have the confidence to deal with rejection and continue to move forward.

    I think this is the hardest part of selling, but without rejection there can be no success.

  5. Excellent! I agree that cold calling has a bad reputation, but can be very effective. When my wife started her business(service oriented), she started calling on local businesses and within a couple of weeks, she had more work than she could do. The confidence comes quick when you start making deals.

  6. Scot,

    I agree that networking is the easiest way to sell. Once you’ve got a great network, you can call on them time and time again to find a place for your products.

    Martin, Anthony,

    Glad you both honed in on the cold calling paragraph. This is where you get most of your business when you’re just starting out. When there is no network.

    It’s tough to do. I’ve seen a few entrepreneurial ventures go down in flames because they couldn’t do it. And they didn’t have the cash to hire someone who could.

    It takes years to build a great network. But you can knock on several doors every single day.

  7. Great post mate, thats all I have done in my life, sell sell sell but I also added to it serve serve serve. I firmly believe that great salespeople are not born champions, they are trained. Tom Hopkins is a great name as a sales trainer, I read his book “Selling for Dummies” many times and I saw him on video 20 years back. Selling isn’t difficult, keep the business on the books is more important. Serve them well and they will keep you in business. A lot of sales people I know sell and just forget about the client, they don’t last long. Cold calling, trade shows etc etc, don’t be afraid to try anything. Give it your best shot and you have a great chance to succeed. Failures never try, they wait for things to happen, winners make opportunities.

    Take care and Cheers mate.

  8. Hey Robin,

    I’ve changed suppliers for something a few times because the sales people just weren’t there.

    At the same time, there are a few people that are always there when I need them. It’s almost like they’re telepathic … I need something and they just suddenly show up out of nowhere.

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