Do you consider yourself a sales beginner? Or maybe you’re not a beginner, but you’re still not at the level that you’d like to be…
Maybe you’ve been at this for a while, but you still find yourself struggling to get to the point where you feel like you’ve really got sales under control.
If so, then there are some fundamental strategies you can implement to go from beginner to expert—in very short order. And yes, you can skip the intermediate phase altogether.
The key is bypassing that long learning curve and instead going from where you are now to that expert level, which is a huge step above where most salespeople are.
So in this video, I’m going to teach you Sales 101: 11 Must-Know Strategies All Beginners Must Know. Check it out:
1. Sales 101 is about building the foundation for selling.
The single most important principle of Sales 101 is that you can’t just figure out how to sell on your own. Salespeople who are at the top of their game don’t just wing it. They find a system that works, and they build the foundation for selling by following a proven approach.
It’s like learning guitar. What’s the foundation of guitar? Learning the basic chords; understanding how to hold the guitar. You must have that foundation in order to get to the next level of guitar-playing skill. The same goes for sales.
You need to build that foundation, and establish that systematic approach. How are you starting your calls? What types of questions are you asking? How are you demonstrating insight? How are you presenting to your prospects’ challenges?
Build your selling foundation by being able to answer all of these questions, instead of just figuring it out as you go.
2. Be okay with messing up.
If you’re afraid of messing up in a selling situation, you’re going to be paralyzed by fear. That fear is going to be all over your face—and when you get in front of a prospect, they’re going to immediately feel uncomfortable.
That’s why a key pillar of Sales 101 is to be totally and completely okay with messing up any sales opportunity.
Of course, messing up is not the goal. But you have to be okay with it. Give yourself permission to mess up any selling situation. Do this at the earlier part of your learning curve in sales, because if you don’t, you’re going to freeze up and do things that will ultimately hurt the sale.
The more you’re okay with messing up, the more comfortable you’ll feel, and the more willing you’ll be to try new things—which is exactly where you need to be in order to break through to the next level of success in selling.
3. Pissing people off is part of the game.
If you’re terrified of pissing people off, then sales is not for you.
We can’t talk about Sales 101 without driving home the point that you must be willing to piss people off. Now, again, your goal is never to piss someone off. Of course not. But sales is about pushing people to their limits; it’s about helping them see what they need to see…and sometimes they don’t want to drink the medicine they know they have to take.
Be willing to tell them exactly what they need. In some cases, you might frustrate people, and that’s okay. It’s all part of the game of sales.
4. Focus on them, not you.
This is probably the single biggest beginner mistake in sales. When salespeople get in front of a prospect, they tend to focus completely on themselves. They talk about their company, their product or service, their track record—anything to do with themselves—as opposed to digging into the prospect.
That’s why a crucial Sales 101 strategy is simply to focus on your prospects. Demonstrate that you know what’s going on in their lives and in their businesses, and seek to understand more by asking really good questions about their key challenges. What are their objectives? What are their goals? That’s how you focus on them, not you.
5. Create your lead gen machine.
This is critical Sales 101 for anyone who’s getting up and running and sales. You must have a lead generation process in place. If you don’t have a way to consistently generate leads, then you’re never going to make it in sales. You need to have enough appointments in your calendar in order to hit your sales goals. And if you don’t have that, then you must get that in place—now.
I’ve made a ton of training videos on how to build your lead generation machine, so check them out if you need some guidance. Without a lead gen machine in place, you simply cannot increase your close rate enough to hit your sales goals.
6. Discover their challenges.
It’s time to become really good at being a detective or a doctor with your prospects. What I mean by this is that you must get really good at understanding what their challenges are. It doesn’t mean that you go in and tell them what their challenges are. Instead, you need to discover, through effective questioning, what’s going on in their world.
You’ve got to be able to get them talking. Discovering prospects’ challenges is a powerful Sales 101 strategy because once you dig deep enough to really understand what’s going on in their world, you can demonstrate whether you can solve their challenges or not.
7. Follow-up is junk.
If you’re saying, “My biggest problem is follow-up,” or “I have a problem with follow-up,” then you’re in trouble. You shouldn’t be following up on your prospects at all. There should always be a clear next step coming out of every selling interaction.
This Sales 101 strategy is one that all top-performing salespeople have mastered. If you’re struggling with follow-up right now, you need to completely change what you’re doing in your meetings. Follow-up as a concept in sales is complete and total junk.
Instead, focus on what you’re doing in the meeting to get the prospect to say, “I’m happy to schedule a next meeting.” That’s how you keep sales on track, and that’s ultimately how you get to the close of the sale.
8. Be cautious of who you listen to.
This is just good, old-fashioned beginner advice for learning any skill. Do you want to learn from someone who doesn’t sell, someone who has no idea what they’re doing? That’s what so many of us do when it comes to learning to sell. We learn from just another guy or gal in the office, or we watch some random YouTube video from someone who really doesn’t sell.
But if you want to learn and implement solid Sales 101 strategies, you need to make sure that you’re getting advice from someone you can actually trust. Be cautious of who you listen to.
When I was first learning to sell, I was taking advice from anyone who would give it to me—and as a result, I was all over the place. When I finally learned a sales process from people who were true sales experts, that’s when things came together for me.
9. Make it a big game.
Selling is a game. It’s a blood sport. It’s a contact sport. But it’s a lot of fun if you’re doing it right.
You’ve got to see sales as a game. If you’re taking rejection in sales personally, you’re not going to make it. You’ve got to allow yourself to have some losses. Allow yourself to learn from every single selling interaction.
10. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
If you lose a sale, if you screw up on a cold call, if you make some kind of mistake like sending a prospect the wrong email, don’t sweat it. Just learn from it.
If you’re breaking into hives every time you make a small mistake, you’re simply not going to achieve long-term sales success. And sales is a long-term game. So don’t sweat those little things. Just learn from them. This is a simple but crucial Sales 101 strategy.
11. No’s are a good thing. A Sales 101 MUST!
A no is a good thing. What’s not a good thing is, “Let me think about this,” or, “Can you get back to me in two weeks?” or, “I love what you’ve shared with me, but we’re going to have to talk this over. Can we get back to you in a month?” In comparison to those responses, “No, this isn’t a good fit,” is a perfectly acceptable outcome.
The more comfortable you are with the word no as a possible outcome, the more likely you are to get a yes.
This is one of those counterintuitive, magical Sales 101 strategies that I wish I had learned earlier on in my own selling career. When you’re only trying to get a yes from a prospect, you’re putting tremendous pressure on the situation, and as a result, that prospect is actually more likely not to buy from you. Only prospects won’t want to disappoint you, so instead of telling you no, they’ll just say what they think you want to hear, which is some version of, “Hey, this is great. Let me get back to you in a couple of weeks.”
Most salespeople love to hear that, but the reality is that a no is actually a great thing. Get comfortable with winning sales and losing sales, but avoid the stuff in the middle: unknown, wishy-washy uncertainty.
So there you have it. Now you know Sales 101: 11 Must-Know Strategies All Beginners…Must Know. Which of these Sales 101 insights did you find most useful? Be sure to share below in the comment section to get involved in the conversation.
Are you relatively new to selling? Or maybe you’ve been in sales for a while, but you’d still consider yourself a sales beginner.
If that’s the case, it’s not a bad thing.
In fact, acknowledging that you’ve still got a lot of sales training basics to learn is the first step to starting to crush your sales.
Once you’ve come to that realization, you can follow one of two paths…
1) You can try to figure out sales training basics out on your own—banging your head against the wall as you keep doing the same things over and over again.
Or 2) You can learn a proven selling process.
If you choose the path of learning a proven selling process, you’ll be able to train yourself on the most foundational sales training basics necessary to be successful at sales in any industry.
What’s more, you can actually begin to outperform advanced salespeople in no time.
In this video, I’m going to show you the Sales Training 101 that all beginners must master in order to make it in sales. Check it out:
Bonus Tip #1: Know your first 30 seconds.
This is one of the most fundamental skills in sales training basics. Do you know exactly what’s going to happen in the first 30 seconds of every selling interaction you have? Most salespeople never nail down these all-important first 30 seconds of the sale.
As a result, they end up meandering through sales conversations, never getting into a true flow because they simply don’t have a repeatable system for starting great conversations.
Knowing your first 30 seconds is everything.
When I was first learning sales training basics myself, I had a mentor who always used to say, “Start strong, end strong.” Are you starting off strong enough? Think about what the first 30 seconds of a sales conversation sound like when you sell. Do you just launch into a long list of all the reasons why the prospect should do business with you? Or are you using a systematic approach that really engages prospects in a two-way conversation?
I challenge you to write out the first 30 seconds of any selling interaction you typically have—whether it be a cold call, what you say to someone you meet at a networking event, or the first 30 seconds of a Zoom conversation on a scheduled video call.
Don’t wing your first 30 seconds. You should know it cold.
Bonus Tip #2: Get them talking.
You might find this exercise painful at first, but one of the best things you can do to learn sales training basics at the start of your career is to record your sales conversations and then listen back on them afterwards.
(By the way, if your organization doesn’t have the technology to record both sides of the call, at least use your iPhone to record your own voice during each conversation.)
When you listen back on your sales conversations, chances are that you’ll discover you were doing far too much of the talking. You’re likely to find that you’re just droning on and on…and the prospect isn’t talking much at all.
This can be painful to listen to, but it’s imperative that you hear what you sound like.
Talking too much is one of the most common mistakes made by beginner salespeople. And in fact, it’s also one of the most common mistakes perpetuated by veteran salespeople who’ve been selling for years.
Still, overtalking is a particular problem for beginner salespeople simply because they tend to be nervous. And when people are nervous, they often start talking and they don’t stop.
In the moment, it might not sound that bad to you. But I promise that when you listen back on your conversations, you’ll have a realization such as, “Oh wow, that’s a total mess.”
So start recording your conversations and ask yourself, “Am I getting the prospect to do most of the talking, or am I doing most of the talking?” As you listen to your calls, track approximately what percentage of the time you’re talking versus the prospect.
Advanced salespeople get the prospect talking. That doesn’t mean that you can’t have periods of time where you’re the one doing a bit more of the talking, particularly at the start of the conversation. But whenever you speak, the explicit goal should be to get the prospect to open up and talk more.
One of the most important keys of sales training basics is to get them talking. If you’re just doing all the talking, you’re in big trouble. Engage prospects in a conversation by implementing a strong first 30 seconds that prompts a true back-and-forth dialogue.
Bonus Tip #3: Have your process.
It’s basically my life’s mission to enable salespeople to have a sales process. Whether you use my sales process or someone else’s, I don’t really care…but you absolutely must have your process.
When I say “have your process,” what I mean is that you should have a systematic process in place that you follow on a step-by-step basis in order to close sales. If you’re just winging the sales process and doing whatever comes to mind, you’re in trouble.
Having a process is a fundamental component of sales training basics. It’s one of the biggest distinctions between average salespeople and great salespeople. And by the way, if you don’t have a sales process now, at the start of learning to sell, then you’re likely to never have a process down the road.
Think about it this way. Have you ever gone golfing with some friends? If so, you’ve probably noticed that some people have learned golf by taking lessons—and after years of practice, they’ve got a good swing and they’re solid golfers. But others are “self-taught” golfers—their swing is all over the place, and every now and then they have a huge slice that goes way off one side because they never learned how to golf the right way. They might have practiced just as much as your lesson-taking friends…but because they didn’t learn how to do it right, they were practicing the wrong form and so they failed to improve. They just play around a really strong slice and hope for the best.
The same is true for sales. You need to learn how to sell the right way now, or else you’ll be using bad form the rest of the years you sell. Make a commitment to learn a strong sales process now. The process you use at the start of your career will ultimately determine how effective you are for the rest of your time in sales.
Bonus Tip#4: Don’t go for the close.
This is counterintuitive to what so many salespeople have been taught. We’ve all heard advice like “always be closing” or that the close is the most important part of the sale. But in reality, sales training 101 shows that the close of the sale should just be the summation of everything that’s gone into the sales conversation up until that point.
When you think about it that way, it’s not the close itself that’s very important. It’s all the little moments that have made up the conversation thus far. The close is simply indicative of how the conversation has gone from the beginning until now. The prospect is going to use the quality of the conversation as the basis for deciding, “Do I want to do business with this person or not?”
Now, if you’re strong in sales, you’re going to focus much more on the earlier part of the sales conversation than on the close. If you’re not closing the sale in the 59th minute of the conversation, it’s not because your close wasn’t strong enough. It’s because the 58 minutes leading up to that point weren’t strong enough.
So don’t worry about going for the close. You should never have to verbally arm-wrestle a prospect to get them to buy from you. That’s old-school selling. Instead, you should be using a process from the beginning all the way through the close that leads the prospect to want to do business with you.
Bonus Tip #5: You’re not a punching bag.
When we first start selling, many of us hear some version of “the customer is always right” or “do anything you can to get them to buy”—but these mindsets are total junk.
In fact, the customer isn’t always right…and the prospect is rarely right. And you certainly shouldn’t do whatever you can in order to close every sale. You only want to close sales with the right people.
If someone’s not a fit, don’t waste your time trying to close the deal. You should only be focusing and spending time on the right prospects.
To that end, one of the key sales training mindsets you must master is that you aren’t a punching bag.
Let’s say a prospect is being a jerk and says something abrasive like, “Hey, you know what? Just tell me the price. Let’s just cut all this crap and you tell me the price right now.” You don’t have to then just acquiesce and say, “Oh, okay, well, it’s $1,000.” That’s weak. You’re strong.
You’re a strong person and you have rights as a salesperson, too. You’re not a punching bag.
Start to think of yourself as a doctor. You’re there to solve a problem. If a prospect isn’t a fit for your solution, then you can both move along. That’s okay. This is how top-performing salespeople think—like doctors, not customer service reps.
If a prospect says something that’s not in alignment with where you want the conversation to go, then either bring them back on course or part ways for good. That’s it. Don’t stick around and be a punching bag.
Always remember that you have value. Your purpose is to solve problems, and thus you are changing people’s lives for the better. This is the mindset you must have when you’re selling. If you can’t get into that mindset, then move on from sales. Don’t be a salesperson—go into operations, or something else, because this industry is just not going to be a fit for you. You must believe that you’re bringing value into your prospects’ lives in order to succeed.
So, there you have it. Now you know the Sales Training 101 that all beginners must master. Which of these sales training basics did you find most useful? Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments section to join the conversation.
Enjoyed this article? Please share away!
Get instant access to our free sales training:
Why Prospects Push Back on Price, Give 'Think-It-Overs,' and Ghost in Sales Until They Meet a Sales Superstar Who Is Following These 7 Simple Keys
About the Author Marc Wayshak
Marc is is the best-selling author of three books on sales and leadership, including the highly acclaimed titles Game Plan Selling, The High-Velocity Sales Organization and his forthcoming book, Sales Conversations, Mastered.
Marc is a contributor to Inc, HubSpot, Fast Company, Entrepreneur Magazine, and Huffington Post Business. He also hosts a popular YouTube channel on sales strategy with over 103,000 subscribers.
Marc helps thousands of people his data-driven, science-based approach to selling that utilizes all the best tools available to sales organizations today.