Starting from day one in your business, you're likely selling yourself and your company.
Whether it’s pitching your idea to potential investors or showcasing your latest innovation to prospects, the success of your business often depends on your ability to sell.
When I started my first business, I had no idea how to sell or even how much I needed that skill. I learned the following 10 skills quickly – and they helped me the most in selling my ideas and business to prospective clients.
1. Basic human psychology.
First and foremost, learn what motivates people. That's how you can better understand your team, audience, and the larger market to build a better business that suits people's needs.
Practice your close. It doesn’t have to be overt or pushy, but you do need to give prospects clear direction on what they need to do next.
2. Listening skills.
People want to feel heard and understood. Whether you're managing a team meeting or doing digital marketing, make listening to others a major part of your work life to better connect with people and form strong relationships. This can help push your business forward.
3. Prospect filtering.
Your sales process should include a step where you determine if the prospect is the right "fit." Sometimes it’s based on budget, personality, or simply your ability to deliver what they need.
4. Strategic positioning.
Figure out where you stand relative to the market, and focus your sales efforts on communicating that core value proposition.
5. Unique selling proposition (USP).
Determine what makes your offering unique. Is it your amazingly knowledgeable frontline staff? Is it an innovation that solves a nagging problem? Is it something as simple as your extended business hours or offering speedy delivery?
6. Perfect your sales approach.
Get your prospects excited about the final result your product or service will bring. Saying you have 'a lot of ideas' implies you've been thinking about their problem, but it doesn’t show them the solution.
7. Talk in dollars and cents.
Get comfortable talking about money, even if it feels difficult at first. You need to inform prospects about pricing and be able to back up why your product or service is worth the price. Have these hard conversations openly and honestly, and make sure to listen to responses before interrupting.
8. Hone the art of the pitch.
Learn the art of the sales pitch. Clearly demonstrate your understanding of the prospects’ needs and highlight the value of what they're buying.
9. Ask for the sale.
Practice your close. It doesn’t have to be overt or pushy, but you do need to give prospects clear direction on what they need to do next. Do they need to click a button to purchase? Sign a contract? Agree to pricing and terms?
10. Be tactful in the follow-up.
Create a system for following up with prospects who aren’t ready to commit. Get creative and find unique ways to add value to the relationship and build ongoing communication.
Considering sales skills can help you create better relationships with customers and prospects, building a stronger business.
A version of this article was originally published on January 8, 2013.
Photo: Getty Images