Even if you're a top-performing salesperson there are likely ways you can improve your game. That's according to Ravin Gandhi, cofounder of GMM Nonstick Coatings, a global supplier of nonstick coatings to the housewares industry. As head of a company which has landed big name clients such as Calphalon, Crock-Pot, George Foreman, KitchenAid, Oster, Pyrex, Rachael Ray and Farberware, Gandhi is full of advice on sales. Here's what he says you need to do if you want to blow past your quotas.
1. Know your product.
Whatever you're selling, you have to know that product or service up and down, inside and out. In fact, the difference between people who close deals and those who don't comes down to who can intelligently answer a question on the spot. It's not the person who says "Let me get back to you." "Stars are the people who can return the ball back over the net faster than it was hit to them," he says.
2. Understand where you are in the sales cycle.
Whether it's a 30-day cycle or one that takes a half year, you never want to go backward. Like a game of chess, keep your client motivated to take the next step toward making a purchase. For example, make sure your product passes testing on schedule and your supply chain is organized and ready to meet the target price. "You need to always be self-aware of why that person is buying from you," he says. "It allows you to know where you are on the topography of getting to the finish line."
3. Exude irrational confidence.
It means persevering regardless of how much rejection you face. In fact, if you aren't being rejected you're probably not doing your job. "Nobody is that good where they're getting a 100-percent hit ratio," he says. "A lot of times selling is falling down the stairs and hoping that you land on your feet. And luck is absolutely involved."
4. Know your numbers.
What is the true cost of your product or service? How much margin will allow your company to make a profit? "A lot of people end up thinking they did a great job, but their company is actually losing money," he says.
5. Define your next steps.
Delineate a list of what happens next after a meeting with a client. Then put these deliverables to paper or email to keep key players accountable. "If 30 days goes by and nothing happens, you can follow up and say 'Hey, here's the paper trail. As we agreed you were supposed to do X, Y or Z,'" he says.
6. Creatively outdo your competition.
Why would customers give you business if your product is on the same level as your competition? Find a way to differentiate your offering through cost or quality improvements, for example. "Your clients will beat a path to your door because you're actually making their job easier," he says.
7. Be a good listener.
You have a spiel you've pitched countless times. But is it resonating with customers? "A great way to build a rapport with your clients is to just listen to what they say," he says. "Most of the time your clients will actually tell you what they want and all you have to do is deliver."
8. Make a connection with the person on the other side.
Lack of sales success may be a matter of a bad personality fit. If so, maybe another salesperson would have better luck making the sale. "Sometimes introverted clients like dealing with introverted salespeople. Sometimes they like dealing with extroverts," he says. "Sometimes the best move is to just shut up and not talk."
9. Get good at reading people.
Have you been talking too much? Is the person across the table or telephone line losing interest? Or, is your prospect lighting up because of what you're saying? Consider pitch people selling products on TV. Fed with metrics about how many people are calling in to buy a product, they can stick with sales pitches that resonate, and ditch ones that don't. "They're actually understanding that this is something people are responding to or not," he says. "And they have the skills to iterate and move away from that or continue going deeper if it's working."