You could study the art of selling for several lifetimes and there would still be more to learn. Even so, the basics of selling are mostly common sense. The following shortcuts can help you get started and hone your basic skills.

1. How to Motivate Yourself to Sell

  1. REALIZE that you are in control of your emotions.
  2. START each day by reviewing your goals.
  3. FOCUS on how great you'll feel when you achieve your goals.
  4. IMAGINE yourself shrugging off setbacks.
  5. LISTEN to motivational and inspirational audio.
  6. KEEP your perspective; don't sweat the small things.
  7. AVOID negative media and people.
  8. NOTICE what's working and what's not.
  9. DO more of what's working and less of what's not.
  10. REMEMBER that you're helping people.
  11. END each day with thoughts of gratitude.

2. How to Create a Sales Message

  1. DON'T focus on yourself, your firm, or its products.
  2. MAKE the message about the customer's business.
  3. IMAGINE how customers see what you do for them.
  4. STATE a benefit from the customer's viewpoint (sentence No. 1).
  5. PROVIDE proof you do it better than anyone else (sentence No. 2).
  6. EDIT OUT abstractions like "usability" and "methodology."
  7. ELIMINATE the buzzwords and biz-blab cliches.
  8. USE the two sentences in all your sales materials.

3. How to Write a Sales Email

  1. AVOID mentioning your own feelings.
  2. MAKE the subject lines short and meaningful.
  3. START with the prospect's name.
  4. DON'T inquire about the prospect's health.
  5. STATE why you're writing.
  6. DESCRIBE a benefit of working with you.
  7. ASK the prospect for a YES or NO reply.
  8. EDIT out all the "salesy" words.

4. How to Give an Elevator Pitch

  1. ELEVATOR pitches have 3 parts: 1) benefit, 2) reason, and 3) ask.
  2. THE BENEFIT is what your offering means to a customer.
  3. THE REASON is why you're the right person to buy from.
  4. THE ASK is the request for an appointment to discuss further.
  5. DON'T blurt the elevator pitch like a motor mouth.
  6. WORK it into a normal "what do you do?" conversation.
  7. PROCEED from 2 to 3 to 4 only if the person seems interested.

5. How to Write a Cold-Calling Script

  1. KEEP it short and simple (about 30 seconds long).
  2. STATE your name and company. ("Hi, this is Joe Jones from ABC.")
  3. ASK for permission to speak. ("Is this a good time to talk?")
  4. RESPECT the prospect's time. ("I understand, so I'll be brief.)
  5. PROVIDE a compelling reason to continue the conversation.
  6. DISCOVER if there's a match between need and offerings.
  7. SET a future appointment to discuss further.

6. How to Make Cold Calls

  1. SET aside a time to make the calls.
  2. WEAR a headset to prevent cramps and sound natural.
  3. SIT straight and breathe deeply.
  4. REVIEW your goals to motivate you.
  5. DECIDE to be unstoppable.
  6. MAKE the calls.
  7. NOTICE what works and doesn't work.
  8. CELEBRATE, because you're one call closer to success.
  9. DON'T give up until you've reached your goals.

7. How to Leave a Voice Mail

  1. IDENTIFY your name and your company.
  2. STATE your phone number clearly.
  3. EXPLAIN why you're calling.
  4. PROVIDE proof you can deliver.
  5. IDENTIFY yourself again.
  6. REPEAT your phone number clearly.

8. How to Get a Customer Referral

  1. REFERRALS are a sign the customer trusts you.
  2. DON'T bother asking before or when you close.
  3. ASK after your product delighted the customer.
  4. HAVE the customer make a personal introduction.
  5. THANK your customer for the referral immediately.
  6. KEEP your customer informed as you progress.
  7. THANK the customer again when you make the sale.

9. How to Write an Executive Summary

  1. LIMIT yourself to a single printed page.
  2. DESCRIBE the problem you intend to solve.
  3. DEFINE the solution you're proposing.
  4. ESTIMATE how much money will be saved or made.
  5. PROVIDE evidence (like existing customers) that the solution will work.
  6. ASK for the decision.

10. How to Give a Sales Pitch

  1. DON'T give sales pitches because...
  2. CUSTOMERS hate sales pitches.

11. How to Give a Product Demonstration

  1. DON'T try to show all the features and functions.
  2. STRUCTURE the demo around a customer scenario.
  3. DECIDE how you'll adjust if the customer probes deeper.
  4. REHEARSE the demonstration until it's flawless.
  5. TEST the equipment three times before the demo.
  6. AFTER the demo, ask for a commitment.

12. How to Help a Customer Decide to Buy

  1. HELP the customer recognize the scope of the problem.
  2. ESTIMATE the economic consequences of not buying.
  3. ENCOURAGE the customer to commit budget or funding.
  4. HELP DEFINE decision criteria.
  5. LET the customer evaluate alternatives.
  6. CELEBRATE when the customer selects you.

13. How to Research a Competitor

  1. IF the company is public:
    • FIND the most recent 10K or 10Q report at
    • REVIEW the competitor's recent financial performance.
    • MAKE a note of all corporate officers.
    • READ about its business model.
    • EXAMINE any "issues and uncertainties" (weaknesses)
  2. READ the "About" section of the corporate website.
  3. SKIM the "News" section of the corporate website.
  4. READ between the lines of the "Jobs Available" section.
  5. CHECK the LinkedIn profiles of key decision makers.

14. How to Give a Sales Presentation

  1. CUSTOMIZE the presentation to match the audience.
  2. START with a surprising fact or observation.
  3. TELL a story of what's happening in the firm today.
  4. RE-TELL the story: how things can be different.
  5. SHOW that buying is less risky than not buying.
  6. ASK for the business.

15. How to Make a Presentation Memorable

  1. DON'T introduce yourself; let someone else do it.
  2. USE examples relevant to the audience.
  3. DON'T just tell--show and tell.
  4. HAVE a variety of types of slides.
  5. DIRECT attention to what's important.
  6. KEEP things simple and not overwhelming.
  7. USE anecdotes, images, and simple graphics.
  8. PREPARE for questions by having one or two ready.
  9. REHEARSE, rehearse, rehearse.
  10. KEEP your slides in sync.
  11. TALK TO the audience, not AT them.
  12. NEVER, ever read your slides.

16. How to Build C-Level Consensus

  1. CEOs want to know how it will affect the stock price.
  2. COOs want to know how it will help them become CEO.
  3. CFOs want to know if there's a big ROI.
  4. CIOs want to whether it supports legacy systems.
  5. CTOs want to know if it's patentable.
  6. CMOs want to how it will affect the brand image.
  7. CSOs want to know if it will win new business.
  8. MANAGERS just want the damn problem solved.

17. How to Sell to a C-Level Executive

  1. SELL something that requires top management attention.
  2. RESEARCH the executive's firm, role, and job history.
  3. DON'T be impressed by the fancy office.
  4. EXPECT the exec to be late to your meeting.
  5. REMIND the exec who you are and why you're there.
  6. TREAT the exec as an equal, not a boss. (No groveling!)
  7. ASK intelligent questions that only the exec can answer.
  8. LISTEN way more than you talk.
  9. ADD value to the conversation.
  10. CLOSE on a next step.

18. How to Close a Sale

  1. TREAT every stage of the process as a "mini close."
  2. HELP the customer make the decision to move forward.
  3. FOCUS on the next step in the customer's buying process.
  4. ASK questions that confirm the customer's interest.
  5. CONFIRM it's time to move to the next step.

19. How to Write a Letter of Agreement

  1. STATE your gratitude (one sentence).
  2. DESCRIBE the mutually defined problem (one sentence).
  3. DEFINE the desired outcome (one sentence).
  4. PROPOSE the agree-upon solution (two sentences).
  5. PROVIDE the proposed price (one sentence).
  6. DEFINE the next step (a sentence).

20. How to Negotiate Final Terms

  1. DEFINE exactly what you're negotiating.
  2. HAVE realistic expectations of the results.
  3. DETERMINE your own pricing parameters.
  4. KNOW where you have room to maneuver.
  5. TRY to get the other person to go first.
  6. REMAIN calm as you negotiate.
  7. WORK to solve problems, not take positions.
  8. STOP when you've reached 90 percent agreement.
  9. IGNORE last-minute demands, or they'll never end.

21. How to Deal With Contract Lawyers

  1. LEAVE them out of the loop when the risk is minimal.
  2. GET their advice but make your own decision.
  3. INSIST that legal gibberish be simplified into plain language.
  4. BE PATIENT, because lawyers slow down when goaded.
  5. FIND somebody to befriend in your corporate legal group.
  6. ENLIST your friend's help in working out issues that emerge.

22. How to Handle an Irate Customer

  1. DON'T take it personally unless you dropped the ball.
  2. APOLOGIZE sincerely for the problem.
  3. PROBE for details so you know what happened.
  4. DIAGNOSE the entire problem.
  5. DEVISE an action plan to make the situation better.
  6. OBTAIN agreement that this will fix the problem.
  7. EXECUTE the action plan immediately.

23. How to Create Customer Loyalty

  1. MAKE long-term relationships your priority.
  2. GET curious about people.
  3. BE consistent and reliable.
  4. LET yourself be vulnerable.
  5. KEEP an open mind.
  6. DON'T be afraid to recommend competitors.
  7. HAVE real conversations.
  8. NEVER give a sales pitch.
  9. ALWAYS be professional.
  10. DECIDE to truly enjoy your job; it's contagious.

24. How to Keep a Customer Happy

  1. BRING fresh perspectives and new ideas.
  2. BE willing to collaborate to solve problems.
  3. HAVE confidence in your ability to achieve results.
  4. LISTEN, really listen, to your customers.
  5. DISCOVER all your customers' wants and needs.
  6. HELP your customers avoid pitfalls.
  7. CRAFT compelling and workable solutions.
  8. MAKE the purchasing process simple.
  9. CONNECT personally with your customers.
  10. PROVIDE value that's superior to other options.