One of the critical ingredients that is easily ignored when defining entrepreneurial spirit, is salesmanship. The ability to sell something - whether it be a product, service, person or a business idea - is an ideal trait for the self-employed, yet many of us shy away from the 'sales' aspect of running a business. After all - being an entrepreneur is totally different than being a salesperson....right?
That may be true, but let's be honest: some people are born to sell...others are not. For the rest of us, here are a few basic tips from the hubpages.com article Tips to Improve Your Salesmanship to guide entrepreneurs who may be struggling with the sales side of things:
Be informed: "Study all available information about your product and be ready to answer any question your prospect may have on your product. This knowledge will make you an expert on your product in your prospect eyes."
Build rapport: "Find a common interest with the prospect before you start your sales pitch."
Be professional: "During your presentation you should be enthusiastic yet even tempered in your presentation. This is a business deal. Do not become emotionally involved."
Gauge interest: "At the end of your presentation, ask the prospect if they have any questions. Questions are usually a sign of additional interest in your product. If you find that your prospect is not showing any interest in your product, do not waste any more of your time. Do a follow-up call in a couple of days. Otherwise look for another prospect."
- Get the referral: "When you meet up with new prospects, ask for referrals. Everybody knows someone, maybe your prospect has friends that need your product. Don’t be afraid to ask. No one has ever died from the word “No.”
The article adds a few other tips - read the full article here.
Reflecting on my personal experiences as a salesperson working in the financial industry, yes - these steps do work. Unfortunately, making a sales strategy work is not as easy as flipping on a light switch. It can take years to build the skills and confidence necessary to be a successful salesperson - there is no substitute for practice and experience. There is a way, however, to accelerate the development of your salesmanship, and that's simply to be yourself / be natural.
Successful sales starts with comfortability. Work with a sales approach that fits you. This is one of the biggest advantages of being self-employed. Employed salespeople operate under different constraints, and report to a sales manager. You report to yourself / your business.
Starting a business of your own allows you to sell at your own pace, and with your own approach - just don't ignore the basics and you'll be fine!
Looking for more information? Check out a few of the following websites and books.
PHOTO CREDIT: Photo Cadascú a la seva // Minding their own Business created by ~Oryctes~ on July 11, 2008, available under a Creative Commons Attribution license. Last viewed on Jan 14, 2011.