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Sales: At some point or another every entrepreneur has to do it. Yet as common and integral as it is to business success, very few people truly excel at it. Why is that? And how can you actively become a better salesperson?
The Psychological Challenge of Selling
For the vast majority of people, the act of selling is filled with discomfort, dissonance, and friction. At a cognitive level, we have a hard time exposing ourselves in such a vulnerable way.
For starters, we’re afraid of the perception we project around ourselves. As sales expert Wendy Connick writes, “Salespeople are afraid of being seen as pushy, greedy, or otherwise unlikeable. Many salespeople don’t like being closed themselves and fear that their prospects will have a similar attitude.”
Then there’s the fear of making a mistake – something that’s especially common among new salespeople. Closing is an awkward process and one that often feels premature or out of place.
Finally, and most pervasively, there’s the fear of rejection. Because rejection is far more common than making a sale, it’s hard not to go into a sales situation with the expectation of coming up empty and making a fool out of yourself.
So for all of the practical challenges that come with selling, it’s the psychological issues – the fears – that tend to prevent most people from being successful salespeople.
5 Tips to Improve Your Sales Skills
If you want to become a better salesperson, there are a number of tangible steps you can take to put yourself in a more desirable situation. Let’s take a look at a few of them:
1. Overcome Your Fears
You have to get over your fears. This is the most difficult, yet most important step of all. It’s impossible to find success in sales without first acknowledging and addressing these fears in a proactive manner.
“Getting turned down is an inevitable part of sales,” Connick reminds us. “The important thing to remember is that when a prospect declines to buy from you, it’s not a personal rejection. Prospects decide not to buy for a wide variety of reasons, many of which have nothing to do with you.”
Sales is no different than any other fear you have in life. Once you confront it, it starts to lose its hold over you. And it’s better to confront it now than three months, six months, or a year.
2. Contextualize the Sales Process
Sales is very much a process. Very rarely does it happen in an isolated moment or vacuum. When you recognize the sales process, you can begin to contextualize your approach. Instead of seeing every interaction with a prospect as a make or break moment, you’re free to step back and focus on building the relationship and gently pushing people through the sales funnel. This comes as a huge relief and results in more productive conversations and pitches – ones that ultimately help close sales later on.
3. Make Your Job Easier
Sales might not be fun, but why make it harder than it already is? There are tons of different resources and tools on the market that make sales easier. Utilizing them will help you find success.
Spiro, an AI-powered CRM platform, is one example. It intelligently guides you through the sales process, automatically creates reminders and updates, highlights inconsistencies in the sales pipeline, and eliminates the need for data entry so that you can focus on interacting with clients. In other words, it makes your life easier.
Whether it’s Spiro, or some other sales tool on the market, you need to find solutions that work with you, not against you. This will result in better allocation of your energy.
4. Personalize Your Pitch
“Instead of following a script and approaching each prospect with a ‘one size fits all’ mentality, high-performing salespeople are committed to learning as much as they can about a prospect to tailor their message,” sales expert Aja Frost writes. “These sales reps understand the unique pain points their prospect are facing and can explain why their product is a good fit.”
Rarely does a generalized approach to selling work. The more you can personalize your pitch to the specific audience you’re trying to reach, the better your results will be.
5. Ask for Feedback
It’s human nature to be blinded by your own beliefs and prejudices. And while some people are more self-aware than others, we all have blinders on when it comes to evaluating ourselves. This is why it’s so important to ask for feedback from others. This will help you understand what you’re doing well and where you’re coming up short.
While it’s easy to ask for feedback from people you like, it’s important to also seek criticism from those you know are brutally honest. As painful as their comments may be to digest, this is how you grow.
Stop Treading and Start Swimming
Contrary to whatever some sales guru tries to sell you in a weekend conference or expensive online course, there’s no such thing as faking it until you make it. While you can definitely tread water, you’re never going to start swimming until you actually put one arm in front of the other and begin kicking your feet.
Even for the most successful salespeople, the process of selling is filled with friction. The key is to eliminate as much of that friction as possible, while embracing what you can’t file down. Hopefully the tips discussed in this article will give you a strong place to start from.