How Do I Become Better at Sales?
How do people get really good at sales? To help you reach the peak of salesmanship, we asked CEOs, founders, and other sales experts this question for what worked successfully for them. From building relationships to a shift in the way you approach sales, there are several ideas that may help you increase your skill level and start beating your own sales record.
Here are 12 strategies you can use to become better at sales today:
- Build Relationships & Understanding
- Practice Makes Perfect
- Take Advantage of Online Courses
- Share Your Story
- Start With Proper Training
- Create Value-Packed Content to Save Time
- Make the Complex Simple to Understand
- Learn Human Psychology
- Become a Great Communicator
- Hire a Sales Coach
- Take Improv Classes.
- Shift to Minimal-Friction Experiences
Build a Relationship & Understanding
I used to work as a call agent for a home security company. They gave me a script to follow, but I quickly realized that the key to making a sale was to sound like I was having a conversation with the customer, not reading from a script.
I learned to ask questions and really listen to the customer’s needs. I also developed a thick skin and learned how to handle rejection. I soon became one of the top salespeople in the company.
Now, I use those same skills in my side business as a real estate agent. I listen to my clients and find out what they’re looking for, and then I help them find the perfect home. I’ve even been able to help people who were previously unsuccessful in finding a home on their own. It’s all about building relationships and understanding what people need.
Practice Makes Perfect
I used to work as a sales rep for the last six years. But I always believed you must practice a lot to get good at anything! It doesn’t matter what you want to do, whether playing music or sports or even writing copy, you will get good at it if you practice hard enough.
I practiced sales by talking to as many people as possible daily. I made hundreds of cold calls to strangers, asking them to buy stuff they did not need. I can’t say I liked doing that, but it was better than sitting around! I also worked with big companies like Google and Nintendo, and I learned a lot by working with these big companies.
Jacob Dayan, Co-Founder & CEO, Community Tax
Take Advantage of Online Courses
I’m a former programmer turned entrepreneur when I had the idea for my first business, and while I knew how to manage the tech side of things, I was absolutely lost on how to manage the other aspects of starting a new enterprise.
I ended up having to take a crash course in sales over the internet just to make sure I had a firm idea of what I needed to do to actually bring in money and keep the lights on as we were entirely bootstrapped.
The skills I learned in that course stood me in good stead on the way to our first million in revenue, so my faith in being able to build skills via select online courses is quite high. I had no background in sales and I largely learned everything I needed to get started.
Share Your Story
Selling didn’t help me generate more business or helped me generate more leads. What actually worked? Telling people my origin story and how it inspired me to offer my services.
My family and I came to the US as refugees from Cambodia, and I’m the 2nd oldest of 15 grandchildren. That meant navigating the world on my own most of the time and experiencing a lot of “firsts”.
What I know about those experiences is that they’re filled with a lot of vulnerability, ambiguity, and trial & error. And some of those can be quite painful or costly. That’s what inspired me to center my work on career “firsts”. I want to leverage my experience and skills to help first-time founders and mid-career folks navigate their own career “firsts”.
When I started sharing this story, people got it and they felt a connection with me. That’s what caused them to see that I was the right career coach for them to work with. This accelerated the growth of my business and gave me a unique brand.
Start With Proper Training
Training, training, and one more time training. There is always someone better than you in the industry. Listen to them, attend workshops, and online seminars.
They are not necessarily from your niche, but get all the valuable info from them. Go back to the office, sit down with your team and pick what’s most relevant for you. Start with a script, get things written well on a piece of paper, and hit the telephone.
Talk to leads, figure out what works out well and what doesn’t, adjust the script, and reach out to the next person. Eventually, it will all come with practice, but the foundation is always the same—training.
Create Value-Packed Content to Save Time
Traditional sales strategies may be effective, but they’re far from natural for most business owners. And they aren’t exactly designed to build genuine connections with the people interested in your offers.Once I threw out my sales scripts and stopped trying to convince and “sell” to people, there was so much more space for genuine conversation and connection. And as we know, the connection often leads to conversion! But hopping on sales calls with just anyone isn’t a good strategy either. Creating value-packed content that speaks to the desired outcomes and active concerns of my ideal clients does a lot of the work of pre-qualifying people before we hop on a call.
This not only means I save myself a lot of time chatting with wrong-fit leads but also empowers my future buyers with the information they need to engage in a sales conversation in the first place!
Make the Complex Simple to Understand
As an introvert, I fell into sales by accident and didn’t have the outgoing personality expected from a salesperson.I got good at sales by differentiating myself. I was always great at understanding technical concepts (as I had an engineering background) and got good at sales by helping my customers understand complex problems simply.These are the same principles I rely on today as a business owner: make the complex simple to understand.
Learn Human Psychology
When I was younger, I was always the best salesperson in my group. I could always close the deal, no matter what it was. But then I realized it didn’t matter how good I was at sales if I wasn’t making any money. I needed to learn how to make more money.
So, I started reading books on sales and marketing, and I quickly realized that the best salespeople in the world were the ones who understood human psychology. They knew how to read people, how to build rapport, and how to close the deal.I started applying these techniques to my sales process, and I quickly saw a dramatic increase in my earnings. I was making more money than I ever thought possible.Now, I’m not saying you need to be a sales genius to succeed. But if you want to be the best salesperson you can be, you need to understand human psychology. It’s the key to success in sales.
Become a Great Communicator
My husband and I are serial entrepreneurs and business partners. Over the years, we’ve launched, ran, and divested many businesses, all of which needed something a little different to make work from the sales perspective.
I don’t attribute my becoming better at sales to any sort of moment of enlightenment, just trial and error and the collection of experience over years as additional problems presented themselves to be solved.
While I’m not a sales expert, I’m an expert communicator, and if I was going to point to any one thing that acts as a shortcut to being great at sales, that would be it.
Hire a Sales Coach
They gave me an opportunity to lead a divisional sales organization for an early-stage financial services company—with ZERO sales experience.After accepting a role with a $0 base salary and a commission-only compensation package, my first step was to hire an executive sales coach. Hiring an experienced professional allowed me to learn the basics of the role, understand key philosophies of the trade, and execute a strategy to grow my division.The experience with my sales coach was imperative to my success. The experience of putting myself out there and getting rejected time and time again was priceless. Many lessons learned!
Take Improv Classes
In 2016, I signed up to speak at a local meet-up about SEO. Fearful of speaking in front of a crowd, I took an introductory improv class at Dad’s Garage Theater in Atlanta, GA. That class helped me overcome my fear of speaking, and I did alright! I kept taking improv classes, joined a couple of troupes, and performed regularly until COVID hit. Not only did improv help me overcome my fear of public speaking, but it also helped me get better at sales for my company. It helped me get quick on my feet, say “yes and” and gain confidence in our abilities at doing SEO. It also helped me communicate more effectively without having these long sales calls that go on forever.Improv is an impressive skill, and every business person should learn!
Shift to Minimal-Friction Experiences
I don’t know about you, but I loathe talking to pushy salespeople just as much as I loathe reading those long-a$$ sales letters.
That’s why my approach to sales is NOT to sell. I guide. I advise. I seek to inform and inspire. I loathe the hard sell, which is why I champion minimal friction sales experiences that educate, provide context, and guide people along the roads they’re already on.
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