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HOW TO SELL ANYTHING

10 Things Everyone Should Know About Selling

Almost every position in every company requires some kind of selling. Here are the essentials you need to know to do it well.
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There are thousands of "how to sell" books and training courses available everywhere around the world. However, everything you need to know about selling really boils down to the following simple rules:

1. Specialize in selling one thing.

The notion that a great salesperson can sell anything to anybody is as stupid as the idea that a virtuoso musician can play any instrument. The more you specialize in terms of product, service, and industry, the more likely you are to sell successfully.

2. Winnow down your sales leads.

When you're selling, the last thing you want or need is a huge list of sales leads. You only want to spend time on prospects who will probably buy. Therefore, the tighter your target list, the more likely you'll find someone who's actually interested.

3. Do your research first.

Never, never, never contact a prospect before you've checked out the person's LinkedIn profile, researched his or her company and industry, and found at least one good reason why the prospect should to talk with you, today.

4. Get into a conversation.

Your initial goal is not to sell but to get into a conversation to find out if it the prospect is a potential customer. Therefore, a sales pitch--whether spoken, written, videoed, or whatever--is not just a waste of time; it's actually preventing a sale from ever happening.

5. Be a person, not a salesperson.

There's absolutely nothing wrong with selling for a living or having to sell in order to make yourself or your firm successful. However, most people dislike any behavior that smacks of the showroom. Be yourself, not a clone of Ron Popeil.

6. Qualify the prospect quickly.

When you do get into that conversation, your goal is to find out whether that prospect has a need for what you're offering and the money to buy it. If not, eliminate that prospect from your list. Don't waste your time or the prospect's.

7. Focus on the customer's customer.

When you're assessing needs, what's most important is always what your prospect's customers need from your prospect to be successful. Your job is to help the prospect meet those needs. Your own needs, of course, are utterly irrelevant.

8. Adapt to the buying process.

Selling is not something that you do to a customer. It's something that you do for a customer. This means understanding how the customer buys the sort of thing you're selling and providing assistance as needed to make the purchase happen.

9. To sell you must close.

When you've got what you hope is a bona fide potential customer, it's hard to risk hearing a no that smashes your dream of a big sale. Nevertheless, if you don't ask for the business, or wait too long to ask for it, you're going to lose the sale anyway.

10. Build long-term relationships.

The only way to make selling easier is to build up your Rolodex, not just of contacts but of people whom you've personally helped become more successful. Eventually, you won't need to sell any longer because your friends will do your selling for you.

Readers: Is there something in this list that's missing. Leave a comment!

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IMAGE: Gallery Stock
Last updated: Apr 17, 2014

GEOFFREY JAMES | Columnist

Geoffrey James, a contributing editor for Inc.com, is an author, speaker, and award-winning blogger. Originally a system architect, brand manager, and industry analyst inside two Fortune 100 companies, he's interviewed more than a thousand successful executives, managers, entrepreneurs, and gurus to discover how business really works. His most recent book is Business Without the Bullsh*t: 49 Secrets and Shortcuts You Need to Know. If you enjoyed this post, sign up for the free weekly Sales Source newsletter.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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