By throwing yourself into the world of entrepreneurship, you must learn to become a true jack-of-all-trades. One day, you’re working on your website; the next, you’re doing accounting; the following day, it’s marketing, graphic design, product development or market study. Even if you launch a startup with partners who complement you, chances are you’ll still have to go through tasks that are outside of your comfort zone. Unfortunately, one of the most crucial activities for any business is also one of the most intimidating: selling.
Selling must be at the heart of your project, because even if your product is outstanding, you will not make any money if you don’t manage to sell it. Conversely, there are a lot of companies out there making a fortune on bad products, because they know how to put them in their clients’ hands efficiently.
Many new entrepreneurs dread the idea of selling for many reasons. Sometimes they are shy, have impostor syndrome or have a fear of failure, not to mention that new communication technologies paradoxically make us less comfortable when talking face to face with someone.
Onirade offers you a few tips to become a good salesperson:
How can someone who does not have an extroverted personality fight their own nature and start selling? You must first realize that if you are particularly shy when selling, it is probably because you are afraid of something. So start by doing a bit of introspection to identify that fear, so as to find means to overcome it. Ask yourself “why am I so nervous about approaching a potential client?” and be honest with yourself.
The next step is to exercise! As the saying goes, practice makes perfect. To sell your products or services is simply to talk about your business, what it is that you do, and most importantly, how you can solve your clients’ problems. Start by training with friends or family members, while keeping in mind that selling is nothing more than sharing information.
Once you are more at ease, get out of your comfort zone, contact real clients and tell them what you can do for them. If you have one or two big clients in your sight, why not start with clients that are a little less interesting for you, so as to get a little bit more practice? Remember: you will be a good salesperson if you remain faithful to the core of the concept of selling, which is to discover what your clients’ problems are, and to show them how you can help solving them.
Understanding the client’s needs and speaking their language
A golden rule in any dealing with your clients it to talk “to them, of them, for them”. Even before you talk business, you should try to build a more personal relationship with your target. Ideally, you would already have gathered information about the individual and have discovered that they are a big golf player, that they enjoy oil painting or that they travel every year to Bermuda. Even if you meet without knowing anything about each other, try nonetheless to find a passion of your interlocutor to talk about: a picture of their children on the desk, an element of the office’s décor, an unusual piece of jewelry, can tip you off. Ask questions, listen actively, and show interest. You will see that you will not only make a favourable impression that will predispose your potential client to open up to you, but that you will also feel more comfortable yourself when the time comes to talk business.
Carry on by asking questions about the targeted business. You must understand the client as best you can, as well as its business model, its objectives, its concerns, its problems. In doing so, you are positioning yourself as an ally, a partner of your client, and not only as a salesperson having nothing but their own interest in mind. The better you understand your potential client, the more you can offer solutions that are tailored for its true needs, and adapt the way you are explaining the advantages of your merchandise. Suppose you want to sell a line of handcrafted food products to a distributor: if you learn that the latter wants to reinvent their store to specialise from now on in vegetarian products, you will not talk about your boar terrine and you’ll rather put the emphasis on your apricot jam. This sounds obvious, and yet a lot of rookie salespeople, nervous as they are, just go on to recite in one breath the sales pitch they have learned by heart, without bothering to listen first. You have two ears and only one mouth: use them in those same proportions and listen twice as much as you talk.
Remember, you must adopt your client’s point of view, and always present information based on their needs, and never your own. Never ask them to make a purchase, but offer your services to them. Do not mention how wonderful, unique or ground-breaking your business is. Your client does not care! What matters to them is the added value that your product or service can provide to them. Do not say “our product relies on a patented technology that only NASA has used until now”, but rather “our product can save your business 20% of its electricity costs”.
Letting passion shine through
One last little bit of advice to engage your potential clients: let your passion shine through. Enthusiasm is contagious: if you are smiling, if you love your product and if you are visibly excited to be talking about it, your interlocutor will naturally have a desire to share in that positive energy you are exhibiting!