How many times have you heard someone say (or said yourself)…
Oh, I’m not a salesperson?
Yeah, that’s just a skill set I don’t have…
Oh, sales, yeah, I’m not good at sales…
And many other iterations of sales being this mysterious skill set that only a select few are born with? Come on, be honest…
Good news, friends. Sales skills can 100% be taught! But first, let’s be realistic. Not everyone will be great at sales, even if they master the skill. Sales is as much mindset as it is skill – and if your mindset around sales is negative, it doesn’t matter how skilled you are.
Let’s unpack that first.
Sales is a MINDSET.
The definition of mindset: the established set of attitudes held by someone. If your attitude around sales is that its pushy, obnoxious, bad, negative, or whatever – then how can you possibly be good at it?!
If that is how sales makes you feel – then YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG. If you’re being pushy or obnoxious, then your approach to sales is wrong. Sales, as a profession or skill, isn’t bad. Selling is helping. Seriously, selling is helping someone make a decision. Sales is about building relationships. It’s about learning more about your prospect, their unique challenges and obstacles, and then sharing your service and how you think you can help them with those challenges. From there, you help them make a decision as to whether or not you should work together.
That’s it. That’s the sales process in a paragraph. If for any reason you’re forcing someone to make a decision, not taking “no” for an answer, or trying to make your solution fit for someone that isn’t your perfect client – then you’re perpetuating the problem.
Selling is helping. Selling is building relationships and trust. Selling is being honest with yourself and your prospect about whether or not your solution will work for them.
With all of that said – you can see how sales skill can absolutely be learned!
What skills do you need to be good at sales?
In no particular order:
- Great listening skills
- Empathy + Caring about the results you provide
- Relationship Building
Not as scary as you thought, right? Notice the absence of the words aggressive, pushy, hunter, and the many other words you often hear describing salespeople.
Let’s break each of these skills down – and how you can go about learning them.
Great listening skills
Often times, this is the hardest skill to learn for most people. And really, the only way to be a better listener is to practice. Practice listening without preparing your response. Practice making eye contact when someone is talking. Practice using questions like “tell me more about that…” or “that’s really interesting, why do you think that is…” and then listen to the answer without thinking about how the answer helps you, but with genuine interest.
For those of us that are sale people – we are probably the WORST offenders here. We’ve been taught to paint prospects into a corner, and it’s impossible to listen well when you’re asking questions with an agenda.
Empathy + Caring about the results you provide
The ability to understand someone’s feelings is an important sales skills. People buy based on emotion. In order to really know if your solution is the right fit for the prospect, you need to understand their pain points and their emotions around it. I’m not proposing your sales calls should be a pity party or overly dramatic, but understanding how NOT having your solution makes your prospect feel, will make it much easier to show value.
Empathy is another skill that can be learned by practicing. Often times, we listen to solve a problem versus understand how the problem makes the person feel. Asking questions like …”how do you feel about that?” or “how would it feel if you were able to solve that challenge?” and then really listening to the emotion words is the key here. Once you know how they’re feeling – put yourself in their shoes. And continue your questioning, knowing what emotions you’re dealing with.
One of the biggest mistakes we make as sales people is talking about what we sell. We should be talking about the result we provide. I don’t sell sales training, I help business owners increase revenue.
When you really care about the result and can connect with it emotionally, your revenue will improve dramatically. The “how” here is about connecting with what you offer. Are you crystal clear on the results that your clients get? Are you passionate about helping them obtain those results? Once you answer YES to both of those questions, it will be obvious in the sales conversations that you’re having.
People buy from people they like. Being able to connect with people from all different backgrounds and walks of life will go a long way in your sales success. How do you go about developing this skill? This one combines listening and asking great questions.
What is everyone’s favorite topic? Themselves – right?! When you ask people really great, specific questions about themselves, they will talk to you all day long! This is a great way to learn more about them and start to develop a relationship.
The most important thing to keep in mind here is that you have to be genuine. You cannot fake interest. You have to take the time to listen and be sincere!
While networking isn’t 100% required to be great at sales, it certainly makes it easier to meet people and build relationships. It also gives you the opportunity to provide value to a lot of people in a short amount of time. People that attend networking events are often well connected and could be a great resource for you.
To be good at networking you need to do 2 things. 1 – You have to find networking events that you like and will actually go to. It does you no good to attend events that you don’t enjoy or that don’t provide value to you and your business. 2 – You have to go into networking with a servant mindset. You cannot go into an event looking for your next client or prospect. You have to go into the event with the idea of meeting people and providing value to them. Can you help make a connection for them? Can you introduce them to someone in your network? Can you help solve a real problem they’ve having in their business for free?
When you provide value to your network, the sky is the limit on the value that your network will provide to you.
Persistence, Resilience, Discipline
These three things are super important to be successful in sales, but the way to “learn” them is the same.
Persistence is about continuing to work towards your goal, despite meeting some resistance. It’s about finding a new way to reach out to a prospect. It’s about coming back with a new idea when the first one didn’t work. It’s about still providing value to a prospect after they’ve said no.
Resilience is about being able to handle “no.” It doesn’t matter how good you are at sales, you will hear no. No, it’s not the right time. No, I don’t have the budget. No, I’m not interested. No, I’ve done this before and it didn’t work. And the list goes on and on. Being resilient is about sending another email, making another phone call, or attending another networking event despite the no’s!
Discipline is about dedicating time and energy to the hard parts of your business, even when you don’t want. It’s about setting goals and sticking to them. It’s about scheduling time with yourself to make prospecting calls, to add new opportunities to your “funnel,” to follow up with the people you haven’t talked to in 90 days and so on. These tasks can feel overwhelming and often mundane. Doing them anyway is discipline.
So how do you learn to be persistent, resilient, and disciplined? You decide to be each of these things. You decide that there are no excuses and that you are responsible for your own success. You decide that the “pain” of doing things you don’t want to do or that are hard or that you’ve uncomfortable with is totally worth it if it helps you reach your goals and the dreams you have for your business.
Once you decide, putting a plan into place and sticking it with, even when you don’t want to – that’s how you learn how to be persistent, resilient, and disciplined.
My guess is, sales hater, that you already have and practice many of these skills. I’m willing to bet that half of these are already in your wheelhouse. You wouldn’t be reading this if they weren’t. And, the skills that aren’t 100% “comfortable” can be worked on. Find an accountability partner. Hire a coach. Do what you need to do.
When you do, you will be unstoppable.