I liked this summary by Jeff Haden on Business Insider on the key sales skills everyone should learn.
Everyone sells. Regardless of whether you’re part of the “sales team”, especially in a startup or small business, and these are the core sales skills you should develop.
14 skills entrepreneurs must learn
Whoever you’re trying to influence, you need to do your research. Know the person you’re communicating with. What makes them tick? What are their fears? What are their dreams and aspirations?
People like doing business with people they like – likeability is one of the key triggers of influence. How do you do this? Simple. Whoever you meet, have this one simple intention: how can I help them. Deeply care about them. Forget about you. When you come from this space, people feel this energy.
You can only create value when you know what is of value. People often make the mistake of assuming what people need. You can sell anything to anyone unless you know what they need, so you HAVE to ask questions. Be curious about people.
This means actually listening, and not waiting for a gap to say something. You can tell most people are just waiting to talk instead of actually listening. When you truly listen, you can be of real service to them.
Getting small yesses always leads to a bigger yes, so always seek ways to get small commitments; even something as small as agreeing to be on your email distribution list.
When you understand the other person, find ways to help them – present ideas that help meet their needs.
Closing the sale
This part freaks people out, they fear it, probably because they fear rejection or they don’t want to push or impose their views on the other person. But asking for the business is crucial for your success, and when you believe your solution or product helps them achieve their goal, and it comes from a place of serving the greater good, closing will feel the absolute right thing to do. So shift your thinking, from “imposing on them” to, “serving them and helping them get to where they want to be”, then closing becomes easy and necessary.
This chimes in with building rapport, and for this you have to care about, be curious about people, and want to help people. Always play the long-game in sales, which is about relationships rather than trying to close the sale immediately.
I love this one. This one is one of the most important for me, because to be successful in sales you have to have a positive state of mind. Your energy comes across when you meet people. Instead of feeling desperate and trying to get business, you are in a state of gratitude; you feel fulfilled, and joyful – all attractive qualities that attract success.
Learning to learn, fast
We’re in a time of constant change, and technology makes this happen faster and more frequently. So you, as sales people and as business owners, need to get good at learning, fast. Do this by constantly reading, read outside of your market area, read productivity books; you should be constantly seeking to improve and develop to not only stay current, but also to stay competitive.
Learning to speed read will help you accelerate your learning. Before I learned to speed read it would take me 1 or 2 months to read a book. Now, I can read 2 or 3 books a month, which vastly accelerates my learning. And I have to read daily work-related market news, too, so this skill helps me get to know my client’s markets, fast.
Managing your state
When you’re in a startup, you deal with a lot of uncertainty, rejection, and moving parts, so you have to learn to stay calm and focussed, so you can stay motivated, and make crucial decisions from a centered place.
Your time is money! Everyone’s time is money. Learn to manage it otherwise a week will pass and you’ll be wondering what you achieved. I always list my top 3 priorities of the day, and make sure I do those first. And I also use my phone’s stop watch to time myself doing certain tasks so I don’t get carried away.
More than 75% of the population are scared of public speaking. Some fear it more than death! I used to be petrified of speaking in front of more than 2 people. Since learning to speak in public, my confidence boosted. There’s nothing like breaking through a fear to make you feel unstoppable. If this is something you’re fearful of, don’t worry, I’ll cover this a lot over these pages. When you can get in front of an audience and inspire them, you will sell more!
That’s all I can think of for now. Did I miss anything? I’m constantly working on ALL of them.
Which skills from this list are YOU currently working on, or which ones do you plan working on?
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