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Sales Basics: Core Fundamentals
Have a new job in sales? Want to improve your sales for more income? Want to be the top sales dog in our chosen field? If you answered yes to any of these questions than this is for you. Where do you start for improvement ? It starts with good old fashioned practice. One of my high school basketball coaches once told me "only perfect practice makes good practice". I can't even begin to tell you how true of a statement that is. If your practicing incorrectly, are you truly improving? Most likely you are not.
Fundamentals, fundamentals, fundamentals!!! Your hear a coach's press conference, after a game, saying that over and over again. It doesn't matter which sport you follow, you constantly hear this. Other phrases that are commonly used are "Good technique, the little things, hustle". I know you are saying: I thought this was a sales article? I promise you it is, but to improve it always starts with the correct fundamentals. Whether you teach, or are in sports, sell iPhones, or flip burgers for a living, fundamentals are what make us successful or fail at whatever we are trying to achieve. Perfect practice, not just practice, makes us better at what we are looking to improve.
You are probably thinking, well what is there to practice in sales? Well, for every million dollar question there is a million dollar answer. The simple answer is: A lot. The good news is most of the things we need to practice at are simple. The better news is, once we have them learned, we tend to make more sales, which in turn leads to more money. The later is why you are here reading in the first place.
1. Looking the part is where we start. I know everyone has a different job selling different products, but how we present ourselves is universal in sales. Two chefs bring out two different plates of food for you to pick from. Do you want the plate from chef A, who has grease and stains from head to toe? -or- Do you prefer the plate from chef B who's well kept and has not used his apron as a cleaning rag? I would bet that a majority of people would go with chef B.
Customer will take you seriously if you look the part. It doesn't matter if you have uniforms or pick what you wear to work, dress to impress. Most people do not realize an iron is your friend. Holes in clothing aren't good for ventilation as some would think. If you want people to think you are a professional at what you do, then look like one. You should have a personal dress code for yourself. It makes me feel even more confident when I look the part as well as perform the part.
2. Sounding the part gives a good first impression. Do all of your sales come over the phone or in person? Whichever answer it is, be prepared for a professional greeting. "Thank you for calling xyz, how may I help you today?". "Thank you for coming in today, how may I assist you?". These are just a couple examples of how to interact with a potential customer. This is a little basic fundamental that is easily forgotten so often.
A good greeting is more important than you think. You are trying to make them feel welcomed and start the tone off correctly. I get annoyed when I call a business and I get an immediate "hold on" or they just spit out the name of the business without any greeting. It doesn't set a tone of professionalism for your customers. Creating custom greetings for yourself is a simple way to sounding like you belong. This is a very easy starting point for making a customer feel welcomed. That is half the battle.
3. Portraying the part helps show your skills. We have gone over how a professional basic greeting starts off with a good impression. Now the question is, do you know what your talking about? If you work at a new electronics store, should you be spending all your time learning about selling VCR's ? -I hope not. First thing I would want to know is: What does your company sell the most of? Second thing: What do people come to our store looking for the most? These are questions your sales manager, owner, or your own personal experiences can tell you.
You need to study all of the things your company sells as well as the competition. If want to sell new Mustangs, you should know everything about a new Camaro. You need to know what it comes with, upgrades, and price to be able to better present your case to a potential buyer. If you are limited to only talking about the item your selling, you are pretty much telling the customer to shop around. You need to show the value of your item versus the competition.
Educating yourself on your products takes time, but it's a fundamental that needs to start now. Well informed sales associates always do better than their peers who do not study or learn their own product lines. Customers will get frustrated with people who can not help them or keep pushing something they don't want. They buy from sellers who give them a convincing reason as to why they should buy. Portraying the part means you have the knowledge. Having knowledge is and always will be: power.
3. Listening may be the hardest, but also the most important fundamental we need to practice the most. Most of us forget that we were born with two ears and only one mouth for a reason. A customer walks into your store and you immediately greet them and start showing off your knowledge you have in the most current VCR's. Too your dismay, you find out they want a washer and dryer. Listen to your customers. Why waste valuable time showing items to them they won't purchase anyway? I am amazed how many businesses I walk or drive into greet me with a "you want to try a xyz" Most consumers go to a particular store to shop a particular item. The best way to sell more is quickly figuring out what the customer wants or needs first. He may love your VCR presentation, but it also takes valuable time away from your next sales opportunity with another customer.
The best sellers always find out what their customer is after first, then move in on fulfilling their need. The faster you can present a customer with the solution they are after, the quicker you can focus on closing the sale. A customer comes to you because they had a need in the first place. Listening to your customer will help you figure a quick direction towards fulfilling their need. Fulfilling their need, leads to a sale. Listening will help speed up the sales process. Customer love to come back to sellers who deliver them a great experience in a purchase. Listening to them will always make them feel that you are looking out for their interests.
4. Attendance is key to good days, weeks, months, and years of sales. I have been around many sellers who knocked their quota out of the park in the first few weeks. After that they went on vacation, were always sick for a few days, or lack luster effort the rest of the week-month. You need to be physically, and (yes) mentally present every day your there. Why stop if you hit your goal early? That last question has made me shake my head at many sellers. The truth is: Those who act that way only cap themselves and never have true long term success in sales. They are the "norm", but many of us want to be better than that right?
We all have bad days and bad nights. The good thing is, if we practice good fundamentals in our approach to customers, it makes it easier to present ourselves well, even on bad days. Yes I do understand if you have the flu, stay home don't get everyone else in your office sick. Common sense has to be used. Fact: It is really hard to make more sales if your not there to make them. Consistently being available to make more sales equals more sales.
5. Goal setting is for achievers. If you don't know where you want to go, how are you going to get there? Goal setting is like writing directions off a road map to simply get somewhere you want to go. Yes, even a GPS needs a destination to work properly. When I first started setting goals for myself it was easy. My income directly correlated from my net amount of sales over a monthly time period. So of course, I figured out how much money I wanted to earn, and then had a basic idea of my first goal.
Goals need to start in steps. If you are new to a business, you will most likely not be the top seller your first month on the job. I guess you could be, if you the only one working there. I don't think you will find that to be the norm. I could write a full book on setting goals, but lets keep it to a few ideas. Yours should depend on your situation as to how you should set your own.
Here is an example. In my first commission job, I was paid by my overall monthly net sales. The company I worked for had a tiered commission plan. I took that info and made a month total goal, I also did my desired weekly and daily goals as well. Why? It takes hours to complete a day, days to complete a week, weeks to complete a month. I would post them right next to my computer monitor. The reason I did the weekly and daily goals was to evaluate how I was progressing throughout the month. The reason they were next to my monitor was so I was constantly staring at them every week, day, hour, and minute to remind me of what I needed in sales to hit my goal.
There are many other ways we can remind ourselves of our short and long term goals. The other way I found that works well, was telling my peers about my goals. Why? I found telling others would be a great source of encouragement. People in a sales team can thrive off each others successes. Good sales teams share their definition of success with each other. Teaming up with others on goals, competition easily sparks as well. Competition is a driving force for those who want to reach their goals. Competition keeps us hungry. It reminds me of a TV commercial that always ends with "stay thirsty my friends". Great sellers are always thirsty.
There are also many other ways to help keep up with achieving your goals. I have seen many different methods that work for others. One thing in common is: You absolutely must set goals to fundamentally map where you want to go with your sales. I find it also has a carryover effect on outside of work goals as well. We all have goals and dreams, meeting them makes life fulfilling.
All of the basic fundamentals listed above are wonderful starting points to increase your productivity and your sales. My particular business revolves around repeat customers and building relationships, which is an area I excel in. To get to that point you first need to make sure you have a solid base. The core basics I have listed above are where you need to start building up good fundamentals on how to carry yourself. The more you practice them, the easier they become to incorporate. I promise if you start on these small things first and perfectly practice them, the sky is the limit. These steps will start getting you going, wherever it is you want to go.