Companies are always on the look out for ‘hard cash’, something which can be only achieved through ‘hard sales’.
Traditionally, in order to be a successful sales person, one needs to possess qualities like being outspoken (if not loud), extrovert and thick skinned. “Such should be the convincing power of a sales guy, that s/he should be able to sell even stones”, was something that I heard quite early in life. Since I knew that I possessed none of the above qualities(?)I knew that the last job I would have opted for was that of a sales guy.
After being unemployed for a few months at the start of my career, one fine day, I got a call for an interview and things moved so fast that day that I not only found my self-employed (as a sales executive!) but I had also completed the first day of work that day itself (this may make up for an interesting story, I will try to share it later).
I wondered how I would fit the bill considering my quiet nature.
Strangely enough, as I spent more time in this company, I started doing surprisingly well as a sales person. I couldn’t change my nature too much during this time but I received a lot of support from my company, which finally resulted in a lot of revenue for the company through me.
This proved that even if you do not possess the qualities of a conventional sales person, you can still do well. I would like to call this approach, soft sale.
Thus, I thought Soft Sale would perhaps be more effective than hard sale.
What exactly is soft selling?
It is that sales activity, which is done not by persuading the potential client to buy your product but by persuading him/her to buy your personality and in turn want to be associated with you. I believe you can never sell to a person who does not need. Even if you succeed in doing so once, it would be only a matter of time before he realizes his mistake and starts cursing himself.
Here are the etiquettes of a successful soft salesperson:
Show up in casual or formal attire, there should not be a single stain or a wrinkle. Spot-less shoes and well-kept hair is some thing everyone notices. Dressing should reflect that you have spent time on yourself and looking good matters to you every time. Subconsciously, everyone realizes that a person who takes effort on how he looks is sure to take efforts on delivering for his clients.
Confidence is the key. If you know the message you are trying to convey to your prospect yourself, chances are, you will be the success. To be confident, you need to believe. And to believe, you need to have knowledge. Of course, looking good also makes you much more confident.
Without doing your homework, you couldn’t impress your teacher, there’s no way you would be able to impress your prospects. It is important that you have a good understanding of the company, the industry, market trends, technologies and people to whom you are trying to sell. Speaking to them in their own language is very important.
If there was one golden rule of becoming a sales superstar, it would be discipline.
If your lead asks you to give him a call after 10 minutes, make sure you do it. If he asks you to get in touch with him early next quarter, mark it on your calendar. If he doesn’t respond for a couple of days, follow up. If he doesn’t answer e-mails, call. If he doesn’t return calls, send him SMS. But make sure that you make your life’s objective to get a ‘yes’, a ‘no’ or a ‘hang for XXXX days’ from all the people you have sent proposals to.
Most of the leads are lost due to ineffective, indisciplined follow ups.
Just as everything else in life, you need to be persistent, even restless at times, but extremely polite. You won’t believe how many of my prospects have given me a pat on my back ‘because I was always in their inbox, every couple of days’.
You lose your persistence, you lose a deal! Simple.
If you follow all the other rules but if you are not polite to even with one sentence, your prospects will bite you back. Sales can be extremely tricky and you need to be on your toes in understanding the person in front of your quickly modify the tone of your sales pitch.
Straight posture, directly facing the prospect always helps. Look into the face when he talks and observes carefully. And I cannot emphasize enough on how important it is, to be a good listener if you want to be a successful soft salesperson.
I understand if you do not dominate the conversation (although ideally, you should), but whenever you open your mouth, make sure you make perfect sense. Command over the language in which you are communicating is a must. And if you are not confident, do not try use flowery language unnecessarily. It is better to say a simple ‘thank you’ rather than ‘I would like to thank you with my bottom’ (she meant ‘with the bottom of my heart’) (tongue of slips happen!)
Try to accessorize yourself with a business card that leaves a good impression and a killer corporate presentation. And don’t forget to carry some charm along. It will take you a long way.