While the business of selling requires many skills, there are five skills every sales person needs. And, most of us will need to develop these on our own.
You see, one of the most important lessons I’ve learned in life is that no one else is going to look out for you as well as you will look out for yourself. To become and remain a professional in business, you must recognize that you are in charge of your own training and act on that fact. Build on your strengths and correct your weaknesses. If you aren’t sure of what to work on first, there is certainly someone in your life who will gladly assist you – your manager, your spouse, your children, a trusted friend.
Here are five skill areas that I strongly recommend you consider developing or strengthening as they have made all the difference for me and my students:
Do you consider yourself a trained negotiator? Trained negotiators can quickly and effectively analyze the details of situations and determine the best route to resolution. If that brief description doesn’t fit you, make an effort to find a book, audio recording or seminar on the subject. Then schedule the time to learn from it. I cover some basic negotiation skills for selling situations in Chapter 16 of my latest book, When Buyers Say No.
Since your clients choose to own your products or services based on what you say and how you represent them, doesn’t it make sense that you train your voice to give the highest level of professional presentation? If you’ve never considered voice training before, record yourself giving a portion of your presentation. Then listen to it. Most of us hate the sound of our voices. Just imagine how our clients must feel when listening to us. To project your message with clarity and power, consider at least one session with a voice coach.
Many sales professionals find that giving short speeches in their communities helps build their name recognition and their business. Public speaking is also a great way to build your confidence. Try your skills out by speaking to an elementary school class about what you do or a hobby you have. Teachers love it when the students can learn first-hand about careers. Join Toastmasters International. There are local chapters in just about every city. They provide excellent opportunities to hone your skills and meet other business professionals with whom you might do business or share referrals.
Having a good memory is critical to anyone in today’s world, but especially so to those of us who meet many new people every week. I have learned to make a game of it in my career. I challenge myself to remember as many people and their stories as I can. There are some great courses and books written on this subject. Even if you learn and use only one small strategy, I guarantee you’ll reap the benefit of having done so.
Don’t cringe at this. I know that there is a large percentage of people who hate math. However, in business, you need to know some basic math skills really well. How does it look when you take too long to calculate figures? Do you think that will raise any doubts about your competency in the client’s mind? Of course it will. Also, when clients toss out figures in their projections, you have to be quick on the uptake in understanding what that means in your business – quantities of supplies they’ll need, projecting delivery dates and times, and so on.
Practice your math skills. Every time you hear or see a number in a conversation or even in a bit of advertising, take a moment to work with the number and see what it means. Compute unit costs for grocery items – $1.29 for a 2-liter bottle of soda. Convert it to ounces, then figure out how much per ounce the soda is. I know the favorite computation of every salesperson who works on a fee basis is to determine their percentage of every sale. Don’t stop there. Play the numbers game often and you’ll get better at winning.
Choose just one of these five areas and dedicate yourself to improving in it this month. Then, next month, choose another. Once you get started on this journey of self-education, you’ll be amazed at what you learn and how simple things can have a powerful impact on your overall success in life.
Wishing you greatness,
Tom Hopkins International Inc