How to Strengthen the Sales Skills of Your Staff

Most entrepreneurs do not think about the sales function or its importance to their survival. In addition, they often don’t think about or practice how to close a sale. Since many entrepreneurs work alone when starting a business, they perform all the jobs themselves and often don’t obtain sales training to strengthen their bottom line. However, you don’t have a business without customers, and you cannot attract customers without a strong sales effort and plan.

Many owners make the mistake of thinking that because they have a superior product or service, customers will flock to their business and sales will automatically happen. Others do not see themselves as sales people since they may not be directly involved in contacting and selling to their customers.

The truth is that all entrepreneurs are involved in sales from the inception of their business. Entrepreneurs are always selling¡ª themselves, their business, and their products or services. They may infrequently call on customers themselves, but they must continually interact with various members of the infrastructure, such as bankers, accountants, lawyers, and investors, to obtain support and advice for their business. During each contact, owners must constantly sell and resell their venture, its concepts, and its potential.

Developing entrepreneurial sales skills is one of the more neglected areas of operating a business. Entrepreneurs should assess their selling skills and take steps to strengthen them. This is especially true for founders who have not had prior selling experience and formal sales training.

Sales are generally gained or lost in the first minutes of an encounter. Therefore, entrepreneurs must get attention and interest during the first few minutes of the meeting by highlighting captivating or “sexy” features and benefits of your product or service. It is critical for owners to sharpen their sales skills toward becoming expert salespeople. The following are three tips for improving your sales skills.

1 – First, recognize that it is not what you say but how you say it. Research has shown that logic, that is, the perceived value of the product or service, does not play as great a role in a persuasion transaction as voice inflection and body language. In fact, body language plays the biggest role and accounts for 55% of the buying decision, followed by voice inflection, which accounts for 38%. Logic accounts for only 7% in making a buying decision. Therefore, it is not what you say, but the way you say it that makes the difference. Both conviction and enthusiasm displayed in body language and voice inflection are critical to making the sale.

2 – Second, sales are dependent on relationships. People buy from people they like, know, and respect. Therefore, it is the key that entrepreneurs contact customers and establish relationships with them regardless of whether they have their own sales staff.

3 – Last, use mental imaging to practice your selling skills. Imagine and then walk yourself through a sales call. See yourself being successful as well as handling resistance¡ªpositively comparing your company to your competitors, closing the sale, and the like. This exercise is similar to what successful athletes have done for years to improve their golf swing, pass a football, or land an intricate skating jump.

Assess your sales skills and those of your staff. Provide sales training for your entire team, and especially your sales staff. Everyone in your organization should be constantly selling. The good news is that selling skills can be learned and enhanced if the person has a genuine desire to succeed at selling. It just takes a little time and effort and some sales training.