Salesmanship is a craft. Unfortunately, it’s an increasingly uncommon one. As the internet has made transactions more and more impersonal, the interpersonal skills needed to effectively do business are becoming undervalued. Yes, it’s wonderful that we can sell to the entire globe without having to physically be anywhere. But whether your business is online or offline, product or service, you’re going to need those skills.
Even if you’re not directly selling your product, the ability to be persuasive to another human face is a requirement. You’ll have to work with business partners and suppliers. You’ll have to address your audience personally, even if it’s online via live video or webinar. Webinars in particular are vital sales tools for any kind of business. There’s simply no way out of meeting other people and convincing them of your value the old-fashioned way.
If that makes you a little nervous, that’s normal. A lot of unnecessary pressure can be attached to the art of the sale. But I’ve seen what works, and it’s got nothing to do with putting on a show or being some skilled manipulator. I first learned salesmanship from my father, a uniquely successful luxury car dealer who made fantastic numbers despite being a new arrival to the country. Watching him work was the first time I discovered the basics of great salesmanship.
Key #1: Confidence
No surprise here, right? You’ve probably already heard that confidence makes all the difference when it comes to closing deals. What may not have been explained is why, or what kind of confidence we’re talking about. It’s not the confidence of the reckless bullshitter or the experienced manipulator. It’s the confidence of a person who believes— who knows— that the deal they’re offering is genuinely a good one.
Your confidence needn’t be in yourself or your ability to “sell.” It should be in the product and its value for the price. That confidence in the product is contagious, and it motivates customers to buy. Think about how you’d recommend a product that you actually love. Would you ever feel nervous about convincing a friend to buy it? Of course not. People who are selling something great don’t need to worry. That’s why they’re confident— not because they have some unnaturally high self-esteem.
Desperation, on the other hand, is a sign that you don’t believe in what you’re selling. If that’s the case, your customers will know it.
Key #2: Transparency
Related to confidence is transparency; the two are mutually reinforcing. If what you’re offering is valuable, you’ll have no problem telling the truth (the whole truth, etc.). If the truth is in your favor, you’ll be confident. The fact that you’re trying to convince someone to do something that’s actually beneficial to them means you have nothing to hide.
The good news is that most people want to buy! Consumers are genuinely excited to buy; they want to make purchases, get excited, and get started. The only thing stopping most people is the idea that they’re being tricked, pressured, or outright bullied into a purchase that doesn’t make sense for them. Your role as a salesperson isn’t to cajole anyone; it has to be their choice. Your role is to make that choice easy, by demonstrating how good a choice it is.
Bringing it back to my father, he used to do one thing that blew my mind. When a customer was unsure whether or not to trust what he was offering, he always had the same reply: check out other dealers. See what offers are out there. If you find something better, take it. Then he would explain why what he was offering was worth the money. He would simply do the most radical trick in the ace salesman’s arsenal: tell the truth.
Key #3: Understanding the difference between price and value
The price is what it costs. The value is a measure of why the product is worth that cost. Be able to articulate exactly what the customer is getting for their money. Generally, customers don’t mind paying a higher price for something they believe to be worth the investment. If something seems like it should be expensive, no one will mind that it is.
For example, take a subscription to WebinarNinja. If a customer held only a single webinar per month (far below average) and converted at a below-average-to-average rate, the profits would still far exceed the cost of that subscription. That’s not a pitch. That’s math! The product more than pays for itself if used only minimally, let alone if it’s used to its fullest potential.
It’s not about what the product is. It’s about what the customer gets out of it. Ultimately, you’re not selling the product. You’re selling the ROI.
Key #4: A reason to buy now AND later
It’s standard practice to incentivize a quicker decision. Buy now, and save this much. Buy now, and get this extra bonus. Essentially, we add to the value in order to expedite the sale. But what if that doesn’t work? Should a customer feel like they only “win” if they reach for their wallet in the moment? Putting pressure on “the now” is pretty common, but it doesn’t build much trust. In fact, it can make a customer feel…well, pressured. And that’s not always appreciated.
That’s why it’s a good idea to offer some incentive for buying later. Yes, offer the bonus or discount for an immediate purchase, but offer a second (admittedly less valuable) bonus or discount if they come back within a couple of days. Being offered a chance to save big in the moment can lead to a purchase. Being offered the chance to sleep on it can lead to real trust. Leave the door open for the cautious customer, and the long-term reward may be more than worth it.
Sales is a learned skill. No one is born to it, no matter how natural they may seem. You too can learn to sell, but not by learning how to hypnotize or delude people. All you have to do is have a genuinely valuable product, and tell the truth about it. If you aren’t excited about the product, the customers will know. Offer real value. Justify the price by demonstrating the value. Watch the sales roll in.
And if you’re worried that you’re not a “natural” salesperson, good! That means you’ll just have to be yourself, and be honest. It worked for my dad, and it will work for you.