No matter what business I have had, sales has been a major component of my strategy for success. I have to depend on sales to get the money for my ideas. Not too many people cruise around looking for people to throw money at. But the problem is…I hate sales.
I am pretty good at it once I set my mind that I have to do it. It is building up that initial momentum. It is taking that first step, making that first sales call. It is putting on a tie and knocking on that first door. I will find any reason I can to postpone making my sales calls. I will check my emails, post to this (or one of the many other blogs I run). I will go to the bathroom, grab a drink, fold my socks. I will avoid sales at all costs. But, then I will take a deep breath, grab my desk with both hands and say out loud “The closed mouth goes hungry”. Yeah, I say it out loud.
Obviously this is a metaphor for baby birds. If the baby bird doesn’t chirp, it doesn’t get any food. This is the most basic reality of sales. If you don’t do it – you will starve to death. Pretty much everyone has to come to terms with it at some point. Hopefully, if you aren’t particularly skilled at sales, you can add a salesperson to your crew. But you don’t have to. To be a good sales person you only have to do one thing:
Be enthusiastic about your product.
I have sold a lot of things in my life. This key bit of information is critical. If you are enthusiastic about your product, you will learn about it and begin to condition your mind to where you will see how it can positively affect anyones life or business. You will begin to believe in your product. If you believe in it, you can convince your customers to believe in it.
Of course you can always starve to death. That option is never off the table.
So, there are a lot of ways to sell. And like everything else, the most painful are usually the most effective
The Face to Face: I can walk in off the street and talk to someone about whatever I am selling and close about 50% of my sales calls. Now that is a crazy number and any professional sales person will tell you that I am full of crap. So I will qualify that statement by saying, I rarely walk in off the street cold. Before I hit the door, I hit the internet. I do my research. I know who is the person in charge of buying what I am selling. I know what their business is and by that I know what their needs are. If I am selling computers and I sell to banks, I know a bank rotates their hardware every 5 years. I walk into the bank and take a look at their systems. If I see 4 or 5 year old computers – I know that they are in a buying position. If Bob Smith is VP of technology, I go in and ask for him. Go in prepared. Have your numbers, marketing kit, sales brochure, business cards and most importantly, a contract. They want your product, just give them a reason to buy it from you. Let them know that you are going to personally guarantee their buying experience (and make sure that you follow up and meet that obligation)
Cold Calls: Cold calls rarely end up closing a sale. The numbers batted around are between 1% and 10% for cold calls. That is less than 1% on the first call. Cold calls are door openers. It is simply a way to put your name in the hands of the person that you are calling and trying to sell. It is the equivalent of handing someone a business card. They think about your product while you are on the phone with them and as soon as you hang up, they cant remember your name or the name of your business. That’s why the key to success in cold calling is follow-up. Get their email address and send them emails with information. If you cant get them to respond, send incentives (lunch meetings, discounts etc.). Send them to your website. If you can, get them to your website while you are on the phone with them to give them a virtual tour of your product. Do as many things as you can to make as many mental connections to your product and to you as possible. That is how you make cold calling effective.
Direct Mail: This is sending out a postcard or a flier or a letter or something via the mail to make that connection. This is probably the easiest and least effective way to make a sale unless you are in the pizza business, flower business, online sales, or financial industry. It works for these types of businesses. Obviously because pizza shops give out coupons for free pizzas and such. Flower shops do most of their work over the phone, and if you have a postcard in hand, then you don’t have to look for a phone book. And when was the last time you walked into a bank to sign up for a credit card? However, as easy as this may be, the response rate generally acknowledged is about 0.05% 0.50%. That means you might get one response for every 1,000 postcards, you might get 5 calls. Not very good odds. Especially if you are paying $.25 for postage per card plus another $.75 for design and printing. That is $200 per customer at the highest response rate. You had better have a good markup.
So, thats it. And for those who say “But, I’m not good at sales.” I say bullshit. Anyone can sell. Whether they like to or not is another matter. But seeing how this site is about taking street skills and applying them to the business world let me show some things to you.
A pimp can convince a woman to sell her body and give the money to the pimp – if you can do this, you can sell ketchup popsicles to a woman in white gloves.
A hooker, no matter how unattractive will walk up to a car, to someone she/he has never met and make a sale. If you have the courage to do this, you can sell ice cubes to eskimos.
A drug dealer will risk jail, beatdowns and addiction to push their product – if you have this kind of determination, you can sell flashlights to the blind.
If you have ever talked your way out of a fight, if you have ever convinced someone to sleep with you, if you have survived to the age of 18 in the ghettos and slums of this country – then you know how to sell. You just have to decide to do it.
Ice-T said something once that I have always found interesting. When trying to sell himself as a rapper, he walked into the office of the top-dog and told this guy “I am a rapper and I will make you some hit records”. The producer, in disbelief asked him if he had some samples of his work. Ice-T asked him why is he going to let him listen to his work. He knows its good and he knows it will sell. Why is he going o give it to this guy for free? He told the guy “If I had a box of hand grenades, do you think I am going to let you take one and throw it for free? No. Either you believe that the hand grenades are going to work, or I will sell them to someone else.” The producer, impressed by his logic and balls asked him “Wow, did you learn that in business school?” Ice simply said “No, but I have sold a lot of hand grenades”.
Obviously I am paraphrasing, but this is what makes Ice-T a Hustler. He turned the skills he developed in the streets and turned them from selling dope and pimping into rapping and acting.
It doesn’t matter what your product is, you have the skills to sell it. You have what it takes, if you didn’t you wouldn’t still be reading.