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Sales Skills: 3 Fundamentals You Need Before You Can Improve

sales skills

Selling is not a skill that comes naturally to most people. As a small business founder or owner, you likely have a justified focus on the product. But the best product in the world won’t leave the shelves (virtual or physical) without the right sales skills.

If you’re someone who struggles with sales, but you need to sell to prospects in order to grow your small business, you can still take steps to become a better salesperson and improve your sales process–even when you don’t think you have an innate talent for it.

Build your sales skills on the right foundation

The Internet has thousands of sales skills resources, including giant lists of tips and tricks and gurus selling videos, courses, and books.

Your sales skills development will be off to a rocky start if you try to gather every sales skill out there and use them all at once. If you’re looking to improve, the best way to do this is by building a foundation first. Once you’re familiar with the fundamentals, you can pick and choose the sales tips that work best for you, your product, and your industry.

Sales is persuasion, first and foremost. To persuade people effectively and regularly, you need to understand people: what they need, what they think they need, and what motivates them to pursue those needs.

In this article, we share three pillars for using sales tips that you can start practicing today. Before you know it, you’ll be making more sales pitches and closing more deals than you ever thought possible.

1. Be a nice person

When most people think of the word “salesperson,” they imagine a sleazy car salesperson who isn’t honest and straightforward.

Sales doesn’t have the best reputation.

Despite that, you can definitely be a good salesperson and a nice person at the same time. No matter what your deadlines and quotas are, remember that your sales prospects are human beings. You can make a major impression on them simply by being nice, courteous, and respectful.

Also, keep in mind that being kind isn’t exclusively about being pleasant. Consider follow-up emails. You’re right to worry that being too assertive might come off as aggressive, but people often appreciate you following up. Everyone is busy these days, so the occasional reminder can make the difference between closing a sale and letting your prospect forget they were interested.

2. Communicate in multiple dimensions

If you run an e-commerce business, or you don’t have a physical business location, you may never have the chance to physically interact with your prospects.

That limitation doesn’t have to hurt your communication skills. When you can’t rely on in-person meetings, you can learn to communicate via video, audio, and text in ways that boost your overall communications ability.

Modern tech tools give us the ability to at least mimic face-to-face meetings. One way to do this is by setting up video meetings through tools like Skype and Zoom. Or, you can send your prospects a video greeting by embedding a Vidyard video in your email correspondence.

Business is getting more fragmented and asynchronous. Your best prospect might be halfway across the world—why hurt your chances of closing the deal by forcing them to wake up on your time or trying to sell while sleepy on theirs? Instead, take a cue from Jeff Bezos and focus on your ability to write. With powerful narratives and the right sales words, your writing can convince as well as any other tactic.

Don’t forget that in the era of marketing automation and social media-driven sales, a lot of sales progress happens without your direct input. A documenting sharing tool like DocSend allows you to actually see how and when prospects open your email attachments and proposals. Installing sales chatbots like Intercom can net you sales without your saying a word, and creating convincing sales videos with Vyond means your prospects might be half-convinced by the time you call them.

3. Listen actively and closely

Not enough people are taking the time to listen, and it’s taking a toll on both our professional and personal relationships.

According to a study conducted by the management company Accenture, two-thirds of respondents said that “listening has become more difficult as work turns more toward the digital.”

Being a good listener means making eye contact, avoiding interruptions, asking follow-up questions, paying attention to non-verbal clues (when applicable), and validating your prospect’s pain points. Active listening–hearing their concerns without thinking first about how you’ll sell to them–can make a big difference. Every communication, from your phone calls to your emails, should be personalized to your customers’ needs.

And if you want to be an exceptional listener, you might need to hear what your prospects don’t say. They might experience workplace stress, for instance, as a result of too much work, but you might be able to show them that the real problem is the absence of a particular tool. Listen to the jobs-to-be-done your customers have but might not know, and show them better ways to complete their work.

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