The essence of what I've learned in over a decade of writing about sales.
What is selling, really? Ask ten salespeople you'll get ten different answers. Ask ten executive, you'll get ten more. But what is selling, really? IMHO, selling can be boiled down to the following basic principles:
1. Selling is 60 percent listening and 40 percent talking.
When you're having a conversation with a customer, your main goal is always to figure out how (and whether) you can help that customer. This is impossible when your mouth is open.
2. A sales message consists of two sentences.
Like so: 1) why your customers hire you, and 2) why you do what you do better than anyone else. If you can't get your sales message down to these two short sentences, you're not selling, you're blathering.
3. Customers care about their business, not about you.
Every sales conversation should take place from the customer's perspective rather than from your perspective. It's never "my product is great." It's always "here's how I can help."
4. Your reputation always precedes you.
In today's hyperconnected world, you can assume that anyone who might possibly buy anything from you knows exactly who you are. Even if you're calling out of the blue, your life history is just a Google search away.
5. Selling is all about relationship-building.
Contrary to much of the foolishness that gets passed around as "sales wisdom," customers will only buy from you if they trust you, respect you, and like you. Everything else pales by comparison.
I think that pretty well sums it up, but I'm open to new ideas. So here's my question: what other rules or principles should be on this list?
Leave a comment or send me an email! I'll gather up the best ideas into a future post, and send a copy of my book on B2B Selling to the best response.
GEOFFREY JAMES writes "Sales Source on Inc.com," the world's most-read sales-oriented blog. His new book, Business Without the Bullsh*t, will be published in early 2014. To get weekly blog updates, sign up for his free "Insider" newsletter. @Sales_Source