Twelve months ago, I re-posted my â€œTwelve Golden Principles of Sellingâ€ â€“ which received aÂ fantasticÂ response, and so I thought it timely to update these in the light of events this year. So, this in effect is the 2.0 version, including the original introduction – looks like it will be begging for an annual update, I hope you enjoy it.
I received a call from an ex-student this week who is designing an induction program for new recruits about to embark upon a career in sales. He asked that if I had to create the “12 golden principles of selling,” what I would come up with.
Clearly, this is not only a very subjective view, but also I found it terribly difficult to reduce my initial list of the essential rules of selling to just 12. However, mindful of the fact that this exercise is designed to provide guidance to salespeople just starting on the first rung of the ladder, here is my take on the 12 golden principles of selling.
Principle 1: Always Sell to People
This may seem obvious, but it cannot be emphasized enough: You are not selling to an organization or to a conglomerate, but to actual, real people. It is important to remember that all people are different, so you cannot sell the same way to everyone. Second, no two sales are the same, even if they are made to the same company under similar circumstances.
To become a good salesperson, it isn’t enough to know how to sell. You must aim to become a people expert. It may sound shocking, but the best professional salespeople actually like people!
Remember, people buy from people — they always will.
Principle 2: You Have To Sell Yourself
Just as you are selling to people, you must also remember that you are not only selling and representing a product or service, but you are in effect selling yourself. When beginning a sales relationship, it is important to remember a few key aspects to representing yourself well.
First, be interesting. If potential customers are bored by you, they have less of a chance of being enthralled by any product or service you are representing.
Develop intellect. Of course, you are an intelligent person, but can you converse in an intelligent manner? Can you discuss related subjects with thoughtfulness and hold your clients’ interest?
Never be arrogant — never talk up or down to your potential clients. It’s rude and will serve only to alienate them. Respect the buyer, and they will respect you.
Along the same lines, develop your empathy levels. If you can relate to your customers’ situations authentically, it helps to build rapport. Finally, control your ego levels. A good salesperson is patient and respectful, not an egomaniac.
Principle 3: You Must Ask Questions and You Must Also Listen To Understand
A good salesperson knows what questions to ask, and when. Develop your questioning techniques, always remembering the traditional rules of questioning: What? Where? When? Which? Why? Who? And, how?
Continually test your understanding of the situation by asking questions and verifying that everybody’s on the right track. Also remember that God has given us two ears and one mouth; we should use them in that order! Successful sales professionals talk for 20 percent of the time and listen for 80 percent of the time. It’s crucial for new salespeople to develop their active-listening Skills.
Principle 4: Get Connected & Develop Yourself
Sales 2.0 has arrived and unless you want to be left behind, you must fully embrace all of the opportunities that lay in front of you.
Think Social Media – LinkedIn. Jigsaw, Twitter, Plaxo â€“ sign up and start building your network. Use these facilities to gain an inside edge by learning more about your clients/prospects/suspects.
Become involved with sales communities like Sales HQ, Sales Gravy, Salesopedia, and The Customer Collective and engage with like minded, forward thinking professionals.
Invest $25 for a whole year and join the most innovative; significant and exclusive sales related club on the net â€“ www.topsalesexperts.com â€“ and gain access, personal advice and coaching from sixty of the worldâ€™s leading sales gurus (Available from January 13th 2009)
Principle 5: Features Must Be Linked to BenefitsÂ
It’s a standard sales component, but the features-and-benefits connection bears repeating and reminding: Features are common, but benefits are personal and specific. When describing the product or service you are selling, use “link phrases” when outlining the benefits of the features you are showing. Say, “Such and such is a feature of this service, which means that . . .â€™ Remember to be specific.
Principle 6: Sell the Results – Paint a Picture
You want the outcome for your prospect to be rosy, but you need to convey that. Discover your prospect’s “prime desires,” and personalize the benefits to him or her. Describe the end results of the transaction and how it will improve the life of your prospect.
Principle 7: You Cannot Rely On Logic
Emotion drives 84 percent of all buying decisions, not logic. What are the chief buying emotions? They include ego, security, and pride of ownership, greed, health, prestige, status, ambition, and fear of loss. Be well aware of these emotions as you approach, engage and deal with your customers.
Principle 8: Selective Product Knowledge Is the Key
A good salesperson realizes that buyers buy solutions and results; they do not buy products or services. Know the specific aspects of your product or service that will create your client’s desired result.
Principle 9: Aim To Be Unique
You want to convey to your customers an attitude of “me first,” rather than “me too.”
Every business, every company, every product has something that is unique, and this is what you need to stress. Look outside the square, and identify the uniqueness of your product, your service, your company — and yourself. Learn to create real value propositions, that pass the â€œso whatâ€ test
Principle 10: Don’t Sell on Price
Selling on price is simply a cop out. You must value your expertise, your products and your services, and price accordingly. Always keep the bottom line firmly in your mind.
Remember, anyone can give business away. Selling merely on price means we do not need sales people! Just because we are selling in tough economic times, doesnâ€™t mean dropping your pants at every request to do so.
Principle 11: Present Your Solutions
When we present our proposals, rather than mailing, faxing or e-mailing, we increase the likelihood of a sale by a factor of 10 if we do so in person. This is your opportunity to impress every member of the DMU (Decision Making Unit) and to do your job, which is to sell you; your solution and your company grab it with both hands. Why rely on someone else to do the selling for you, which is what you do when you simply mail your proposal?
Principle 12: Be Professional at All Times
The greatest compliment a customer can pay you is to describe you as “professional.” Don’t worry about being liked — be respected. Customers do not buy from you because they like you, but rather because they are prepared to trust you
Being professional is not one thing, it is three: It is what you do, what you say, and how you present yourself.
And finallyâ€¦â€¦â€¦ Selling is the most wonderfully exhilarating, satisfying and fulfilling career in the world â€“ but only if you are selling successfully.
Someone has to be the best – why not you?
Tomorrow: The eagerly awaited JF Awards â€“ Who are this yearâ€™s â€œmovers and shakers?â€ Who have allowed their â€œEmpathy/Egoâ€ balance to get out of kilter? Who has fallen asleep and lost ground? Who has just simply fallen off our radar? Who has made the biggest impact over the last twelve months? Who do we really admire? Who has failed to respond to the tremendous support we have given them? Who manages the silliest site? â€“
All of this tomorrow.