Whether you’re new to the industry or an experienced salesperson, it’s vital to have a firm grasp of the basic principles of selling.
Failing to adhere to these essential sales principles means you risk losing prospects and sales.
This guide will take you through the fundamental rules for successful selling and explain what you should (and shouldn’t be doing) if you want to close more deals.
Basic Principles of Selling
1) Do Your Research
One of the essential principles of selling is that you should always be fully prepared for each conversation you have with a prospect. That means doing the proper research and planning every time and adding this to your sales process.
Find out what your prospect’s organization does, how they do it, and why. Then, build a complete understanding of what drives them, as well as what challenges they may face. By doing so, you can make a personalized pitch to each prospect that caters to their most essential needs and challenges.
2) Don’t Just Talk – Be An Active Listener
Traditional sales training often misses the fact that conversations need to go both ways – which means you need to listen, not just talk.
Sure, the more you listen to your prospect, the better you can understand them. This will help you to meet the prospect’s needs more effectively.
But to get the prospect to open up, you have to ask questions as well.
Pay attention to what the prospect is most interested in, what drives them, and their biggest challenges. Hone in on what matters most to them.
Using active listening also helps to show your prospect that you value their time and what they have to say. This, in turn, allows you to form a deeper connection with your prospect, laying the groundwork for a productive business relationship.
3) Sell As A Person To A Person
This principle of successful sales builds on the last sales rule: your aim is to create a relationship with your prospect, not just pitch to them.
Remember that you’re dealing with another person, not some faceless corporation – you need to get them to trust you and respect you personally.
Connecting with the buyer on a more personal level makes it easier to communicate effectively, build a better understanding of what they need, and provide a solution to them, thereby closing the sale.
Make sure you pay close attention to your prospect’s personality, behavior and know how to moderate your behavior accordingly. Read the prospect’s cues and understand which situations call for professionalism and which call for a more personal touch.
4) Remember That Your Reputation Precedes You
For modern salespeople, reputation is a key.
The first thing that almost any prospect will do when you reach out to them is to find out who you are, so you need to work to develop a reputation that makes them more interested in speaking with you.
In the digital ans social media age, both you and your company are only a Google search away. So you need to ensure that your online presence conveys trustworthiness and expertise, which in turn builds credibility.
Marketing content that features you and client testimonials are two effective measures you can take to build this reputation and create better relationships.
5) Lead With Value & Insight
The strongest way to start your conversations with new a new potential customer is by showing real insights into what they do, the challenges they face, and how you can help them solve these issues.
In doing so, you can begin to demonstrate the value of your product or service to the prospect.
Remember, your prospect isn’t there to learn about your product – what they really want is to find solutions to their problems. As such, you need to be clear about how you provide solutions, and in turn, provide value.
6) Center On Prospect, Not Your Product
Focusing on your prospect rather than the product is similar to the last point, but it’s worth reiterating. Your prospect isn’t interested in your product; the buyer is interested in how it can change their organsiation.
Everything you say should therefore center on the prospect, not on your product.
Instead of simply walking the prospect through your product’s features, focus on the specific parts that offer the most benefit to them and explain clearly what value this provides. Keep their unique needs and challenges in mind at all times, and tailor all your communications accordingly.
Don’t just waffle about your product without purpose; make sure everything you say has a clear point, and ensure that that point is directly relevant to the prospect’s interests.
7) Nip Potential Issues In The Bud
Understanding the principles of selling means understanding that not every prospect will have a straight line from start to close.
Often there will be several issues or concerns that you’ll need to address before you can make a successful sale. You need to anticipate these issues and deal with them early on rather than waiting for the prospect to bring them up.
The sooner you can solve these issues, the better. Leaving them unaddressed increases the chances that they can derail the sale further down the line, at which point you’ll have wasted time and resources on an unsuccessful deal.
8) Sell Yourself, Not Just Your Product
It might be a specific product or service that you’re trying to influence a prospect to buy; you’re also selling yourself. Most prospects aren’t just looking for a standalone product; they also want a partner they can continue to work with even after the sale is made.
You need to sell yourself (and your company) as well as your products and services. That means demonstrating that you’re a professional, knowledgeable, and helpful advisor who the prospect can rely on for support throughout the entire process and beyond.
On a personal level, selling yourself means making yourself engaging, empathetic, and responsive to build an effective relationship with the prospect. On a professional level, it means creating an understanding of the prospect and demonstrating that your company has the necessary expertise to provide valuable solutions.
9) Create Data
Another key aspect of the sales basics is that it’s not enough to address sales on a case-by-case basis – you also need to widen your view to look at the bigger picture.
Blindly running from one prospect to the next without pausing to reflect and evaluate is a recipe for disaster; for truly successful selling, you’ll need to analyze the broader trends within your sales pipeline.
Collect data wherever possible and use it to provide a fuller picture of your sales processes. For example, identify which stages of your sales pipeline are weakest and strongest and how you can replicate success stories.
10) Maintain Momentum With Clear Next Steps
Your sales pipeline thrives on momentum, so it’s essential to keep prospects moving along it rather than stalling and losing interest.
At the end of every meeting or conversation, you need to lay out clear next steps – ideally, you need to ensure your next appointment is organized before the end of your current one.
Establishing a framework of the next steps ensures that your prospects are always progressing along the sales pipeline, not simply running in circles.
11) Retaining Customers Is More Important Than Obtaining Them
Remember, once you’ve made a successful sale, your job isn’t over. You now have to work to keep your client happy to keep them buying from you and contributing towards your sales quota.
Building a reliable, loyal client base is the key to smashing sales targets. So pay as much attention to your established clients as your new prospects. Always look to go above and beyond what they expect from you – you’re there to support them, not just make the sale and disappear.
You should solve any problems or queries they have quickly and effectively and look for opportunities to provide them with added value.
12) Don’t Be Afraid To Give Up
One of the essential principles of selling is to acknowledge that sometimes, you won’t be able to make a sale.
Even the best salesperson can’t guarantee a 100% success rate – some prospects will inevitably go cold, and you won’t be able to close them.
The key is to recognize when this is the case and be prepared to redirect your efforts elsewhere rather than wasting time and resources. So keep a close eye on your sales pipeline, and be aware of any prospects that have stalled or stagnated. Then, carefully evaluate whether it’s worth continuing to pursue them or whether your time would be better spent on other, more active prospects.
These sales rules are not exhaustive, but they should give you a foundation on which to build your sales career.
The key to successful selling is to master the fundamentals – more advanced methods may be appealing, but they will mean nothing if you don’t have the sales basics perfected first.