You're in your zone of genius when it comes to new ideas, but not so much when it comes to selling them. It's something that entrepreneurs beat themselves up over, but the killer instinct that you think you need to close the sales isn't innate to everyone. I hear it all of the time, "I suck at sales." But how are you in relationships? If you know how to build and sustain a great relationship you don't suck at sales, you're just looking at it in all the wrong way.

These simple tweaks to the way you view the sales process, and how you approach your prospect, will turn you into a sales superhero.

You Don't Need Killer Instincts.

Sales in small business is not the cut-throat business you think it is, it's about building authentic relationships and meeting and exceeding your clients' needs. Focus less on making the sale and more on genuinely connecting with your prospect and your close rates will improve. What do they care about and why do they care? Remember the know, like, and trust rule instead of bowling over your prospects with a laundry list of benefits that your product or service brings to the table.

Observe and listen more than you talk.

Business owners who are inexperienced in sales worry about what to say when they should be thinking about what they hear. You can talk your way out of a sale in a heartbeat, so just pose a question to get them talking and pay close attention. The trick is that you're not just listening to the words. If you're meeting in person, study their body language. Arms crossed, leaning away means they are closed off and skeptical. Just be yourself and relax, they'll lean in soon. Also, observe what triggers their passion or intensity.  These are the topics you want to focus on as you move forward in the conversation.

Stop apologizing.

When you call a client or prospect, never apologize for "bothering" them. Once you suggest that you are taking up their valuable time it devalues you and/or your service in their minds. Just be yourself-- congenial and genuinely interested in what they have to say. Act as if the call is important because it is! There's a fine line between apologizing for interrupting their busy day and letting them know that you respect their time. Be respectful by keeping it brief and thanking them for their time.

Don't think of your call as an inconvenience.

Sometimes, entrepreneurs express concern about bothering their prospects. Certainly, if you are relentless, rather than appropriately persistent, it can be a bother. In many cases, you are actually making their job easier by picking up the phone.  Oftentimes, when I call a prospect, they thank me because they just haven't gotten around to returning my call and I'm saving them the trouble. Or, the call pushes them to stop what they're doing and make a decision. It's one more thing off their plate. By asking the right questions you will save them the time and trouble of determining what needs to happen next and move the process forward.

Observe how your sales prospects communicate.

A person who wants everything to be concise and loves bullet points does not want to go on and on about the weather. Conversely, someone who loves to talk about their grandkids and vacations may become offended if you jump to the chase.  Of course, communication style isn't easy to pick up on if you don't know the person. There are many wonderful books and assessment tools on the subject. I believe that every leader, every company, should be familiar with how to assess someone's style. It's one of the most powerful advantages you'll ever have.

Documentation and follow up are the keys to sales success.

Whether your conversation goes really well, or bombs, you'll hang up the phone believing that you'll remember every word. You won't, not unless it's the only sales call you ever make. Even if you are a solo business a CRM will provide incredible value. There are some free basic options, like the one offered by Freshsales

Short of that, you can use a spreadsheet for tracking purposes. Take notes and capture your observations. Also, set reminders on your calendar for your next steps in the process.

There is no iron-clad sales success formula. Once you have a system in place track leads and calls, the success lies in your ability to build relationships and deliver on your word. Authenticity, integrity, and confidence are your best assets. I think you already have them close at hand.  

Published on: Jun 27, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.