The Art of Selling & Prospecting

A few weeks ago, I’d published “A Guide to Developing Your Sales Pipeline for the Small Business Owner or Entrepreneur.” Today, we’ll discuss sales and prospecting.

At the heart of sales, are relationships. Behind every sale is a person. If you treat him or her as a commodity, or anything other than a human being you reduce yourself to an individual peddling their wares for the sole purpose of generating a profit.

One way to overcome this is to ask yourself, “Am I more concerned with getting what I want or am I really helping other people get what they want?”

Selling on purpose means that you’re conscious of what you’re doing and not just necessarily blindly repeating a sales routine. Not to knock sales routines, because explaining a product’s features and benefits is a routine that needs repeating in some cases.

My purpose, which I’d identified after reading Hyrum Smith’s “What Matters Most: The Power of Living Your Values” in the post “5 Recommended Books for the Small Business Owner or Solopreneur” is to educate and empower individuals and businesses with resources that will enable them to realize their personal definition for ‘success’ through long-lasting, and genuine partnerships.

In crafting yours, ask yourself: “What would I like to have written on my tombstone?” In other words, what was my purpose in life?

You may be thinking, “What does me selling have to do with my purpose in life?” Maybe for you the two are not related… and that’s okay.

Should you be one of the individuals interested in tying your personal values to your professional values, it’s worth determining your purpose. It helps with decision making as well as identifying opportunities.

Once you know what you stand for, you can use it as a talking point when you approach the person/prospect/buyer/customer.

Purpose aside, regardless of whether you have an amazing one that would make even Mother Teresa envious — I would think that it would’ve been hard to make her envy — none of that really matters if you don’t know what you’re selling.

Always ensure that you know the features and advantages of what you sell thoroughly. A salesperson’s task is to help buyers buy. Buyers won’t buy if they don’t trust you. They’ll trust you even less if you’re unsure of your subject matter. Other reasons for them not purchasing from you is that maybe they don’t see much value in your product or service versus what they currently have, or they don’t see much importance in making an immediate decision.

Ways to overcome these objections is to honestly help people see how a solution is really in their best interest. If you still can’t seem to get them to budge, then it’s in both party’s best interest to refer them to someone who can help — if you have such a contact — and proceed to another opportunity.

Feel free to ask whether they know of other businesses who would appreciate a business relationship with you.

As people see the world becoming more uncertain and more complicated, they need to be able to count on other people. When they find someone they can trust. They do repeat business with them.

It’s been said that 80% of sales results are produced by 20% of what we do. Let’s use this as an opportunity to discuss prospecting.  Without prospecting, it’s pretty much you alone.

The sales process begins with prospecting for new opportunities. From these you (should) do your research. Imagine reaching out to a business owner and not knowing anything about their business. Imagine the reverse scenario where you at least know something about what they do. This goes back to the comment re: developing trust and a relationship because, the business owner is a person like you and I. Why did they start the business? Could your product or service help them realize some of their personal goals and values that aren’t directly tied to the business. You find this out by genuinely listening… which brings up the next stage in the sales process… the initial communication. We then move forward to discussing opportunities and solutions to working together. If everything goes smoothly, you’ll ask for the sale, they’ll say yes and you go from there. This process doesn’t apply equally to all seller/buyer relationships.

So where can you prospect? Ask existing customers for referrals, review building directories, chambers of commerce, personal referral networks (relatives, doctors, lawyers, accountants), etc.

For more tips, feel free to also read “A Guide to Developing Your Sales Pipeline for the Small Business Owner or Entrepreneur”. You can also contact me for a complimentary consult.

Works Cited:

Crom, J. Oliver., and Michael A. Crom. Sales Advantage: How to Get It, Keep It, and Sell More than Ever. Free Press, 2013.

Johnson, Spencer. The One Minute $Ales Person: the Quickest Way to More Sales with Less Stress. W. Morrow, 2002.

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