No matter what type of business you’re in, you’re in the business of selling. And many small business owners admittedly don’t like sales. They are passionate about their product or service, but when it comes to closing deals, they fall short. Why? Often it’s the fear of rejection. But good sales people view “no” as a mere objection to overcome, not as a reason to stop trying.
How do you face rejection and keep your confidence level high? For the most part, you must have a thick skin. The sales game is a game of a law of averages — the more sales presentations you make, the higher your probably of getting a deal. But the reality is you’ll hear many more “no’s” before you get to one “yes” — particularly in the early days of your business. However, there are a few things you can do to improve your chances of getting to “yes.”
1. Be prepared – Good preparation can enhance your ability to succeed. Before you make a sales call, take time to do your research. Know a little history about the company and your prospect. Visit their website. Do an Internet search and look for recent press releases or other pertinent information. Pay attention to the company’s advertisements and marketing strategies. And don’t forget to check out their competition.
After many requests, I finally agreed to meet with a representative of a large, regional bank who wanted my company’s business. It was clear early in the presentation that the young woman had no idea what my company did or who I was. She brought information about local organizations for women-owned businesses, and unbeknownst to her, I served in national leadership positions with several of the groups. Shame on her for not doing her homework. Getting to know your prospect is a right of entry in today’s market.
2. Listen and get to know your prospect – During the sales call, ask open ended questions to learn as much as you can about your prospect. Look for common interests so you can build rapport. Listen carefully so you can customize your presentation. When it comes to selling, no two prospects are created equally. Make sure your presentation is directed to their particular needs.
In my experience, I’ve found most sales people don’t understand the customer’s needs. They make the mistake of jumping right into a canned sales pitch. And as a result, many get pitched right out the door.
3. Don’t give up too easily – When faced with objections, don’t give up and race out the door. Handle objectives in a positive, professional manner. Make sure you clearly understand what’s being said, and if you don’t, ask for clarification. Find out what you could do to resolve the objection. Then, armed with that information, you can devise an appropriate solution and close the sale.
The more calls you make, the more opportunities you’ll have for success. With that in mind, every “no” you receive takes you one step closer to a “yes.” And remember, every sales appointment is a new opportunity, so don’t carry negativity from one into another. It’s like my mother used to say, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”
What sales techniques do you swear by? Have you felt the sting of rejection from a prospect—and if so, what did you do differently next time? Do you have tips for closing a deal?
Susan Wilson Solovic is an award-winning entrepreneur and journalist, author of three best-selling books, multi-media personality and contributor to ABC News and other outlets, public speaker and attorney. AT&T has sponsored this blog post.