Are you new to sales? Or maybe you’re not brand-new, but you’re still struggling to get to that next level of selling. This is a really common place for salespeople and business owners to find themselves…
I call this the survival phase of sales.
The survival phase is the most difficult place to be from a sales perspective—but once you break through to that next level, things get a lot easier. I promise, it’s way less painful.
Moving from that beginner stage to the next level is everything.
That’s why I’ve compiled the basics of sales to help anyone master the foundation of selling, so getting to that next level is within reach. In this video, I’m going to show you 9 sales basics that every beginner must know. Check it out:
I don’t know what it is about sales that makes so many people want to figure it out the hard way—on their own. It’s like they actually want to take the most difficult, circuitous path possible. This makes absolutely no sense. There is a proven path to success in sales: systematic selling. Leveraging what already works will help you skip that painful learning curve. Don’t just try to figure it out on your own. Follow a consistent and systematic approach.
This sales basic will ultimately help you move from beginner to advanced in a very short period of time. I’m talking months, rather than years.
2. They can’t hurt you.
This is perhaps the most psychologically important of all the sales basics on this list. Prospects cannot physically hurt you. They have no physical control over you. And they can cause you no physical harm. In order to build a strong sales foundation, you must first convince yourself of this truth: they can’t hurt you.
I understand it’s hard. We’ve all been in a sales meeting or on a sales call when our palms start to sweat and we get really nervous. We start to freak out. What are we going to say next? What if we mess up? This sales anxiety is very common. All salespeople feel fear, especially when they’re just starting out. The archaic part of our brains tells us: “It’s time for flight. Run away!”
But once we accept that they can’t cause us any real harm, we can begin to override this useless anxiety. The more you remind yourself that they can’t hurt you, the less nervous you’ll be in any selling situation, and the stronger you’ll be in sales.
3. Have a system.
Following a systematic approach is a sales basic that’s essential for success. There’s no such thing as a born salesperson. I’ve been working with salespeople now for over 20 years, and I’ve never met a born salesperson. I’ve met people who learn really well and become great salespeople quickly…but I’ve never met someone who was just born a great salesperson without any practice or work. The key is to pick a proven selling approach and follow it completely. Don’t try to makeshift your own approach by pulling ideas from 25 different places. Follow a system and use it every single time.
4. Know your first 30 seconds.
Imagine you’re in an elevator with an ideal prospect, someone who you’d love to have a conversation with. They ask you, “So, what do you do?” What are you going to say? What will come out of your mouth over the next 25 to 30 seconds? Most salespeople and business owners have no idea what they’re going to say. And what ends up happening is that they drone on and on, meandering all over the place..
This is a complete mess. You need to know exactly what your first 30 seconds will be. Script it out, memorize it, and own it. Because if you don’t own that first 30 seconds, you’re never going to compel your prospect to break through to that next level of conversation with you. Your first 30 seconds is everything.
5. Drop that pitch.
Every single movie or TV show that shows a sales presentation conversation comes down to a pitch. Everything that we’ve been taught by the media about sales is about pitching. Like your prospect is some dumb deer in the headlights who just needs to be pitched, and if they can only be persuaded with a stronger argument, they’re going to buy. The reality is that this is all crap.
Your prospects don’t need to be pitched. This is one of those sales basics you absolutely must implement right away. Nothing screams “beginner” more loudly than starting off a sales conversation with a pitch, talking about your company, and about how your product is the best in the market. All of that stuff will go in one ear and out the other with your prospect. You’ve got to drop that pitch—and instead engage prospects in a real conversation.
6. They don’t care about you.
Newer salespeople tend to focus a lot on themselves, as opposed to the prospect. But all the prospect cares about is what’s going on in their world. They don’t care about you. They don’t care about your company. They don’t care about your product, your service, or your offering. All they care about is themselves. And you know what? That’s the way it should be.
It’s really important that, as a salesperson, you understand that prospects don’t care about you. Maybe your clients do. Maybe you have some really good client relationships—that’s great. But your prospects do not care about you. The less focused you are on yourself, and the more focused you are on them, the more likely you are to really engage them in a valuable, meaningful business conversation.
7. Get them talking.
The more your prospect talks, the more likely you are to get to the next step, and then ultimately to close the sale. Some really powerful recent data shows that the longer your prospect talks and the more words they say at the beginning of a sales interaction, the more likely they are to buy in the end.
Make it your goal to get the prospect talking as early on as possible in the sales interaction. This is a simple sales basic that will transform the way you sell.
8. Demonstrate you can solve.
Old-school selling (which, by the way, is what most beginner salespeople are doing) focuses so much on the pitch and on features and benefits, and does almost nothing to answer the only question prospects have: “Can you solve the problems that I’m facing?”
Even if prospects aren’t consciously thinking about this question, it’s on their mind. They’re subconsciously thinking: “I have a problem. Can this person help me solve that problem?” What we want to do as more effective salespeople is demonstrate that we can actually solve the prospect’s problems. Understanding your prospect’s challenges starts by getting them talking. Then it’s time to demonstrate that you can solve those challenges during the presentation phase.
All you should ever focus on are the issues they’ve mentioned. All they want to know is that “this person can solve my challenges.” This is a key sales basic that will drive your presentations to a new level of being concise, effective, and relevant to your prospects.
9. Next steps are EVERYTHING.
We must have next steps in place after every sales conversation. There’s no such thing as just following up or checking back in when it comes to the basics of sales.
Always be scheduling next steps. And if your prospect is unwilling to schedule the next step, it should be a huge red flag for you to say, “All right. Maybe I’m in trouble here. Maybe I didn’t demonstrate enough value. And now I’m in a situation where I have to follow up.” Make sure that in every conversation, you are always scheduling next steps. This is the one place to be really strong and dominant with your prospects. Always put next steps in place.
So there you have it. Now you know 9 sales basics that every beginner must know. Which of these selling strategies did you find most useful for building your sales foundation? Be sure to share below in the comment section to get involved in the conversation.
More Key Sales Basics That Every Beginner MUST Know…
There’s so much information flying around the world of sales training these days, particularly when it comes to the basics.
When I say the basics, I’m not talking about obvious sales training ideas everyone should already know, such as, “Look prospects in the eye and shake their hand.” I’m talking about real hardcore sales training basics.
I’m going to assume you already know how to make eye contact and shake hands. But what are the basics behind how to get in front of your ideal prospects?
And once you’re actually in front of them, what do you do to maximize the likelihood of closing the sale?
It’s so important to get these foundational sales training basics right. In this video, I’m going to show you the 11 sales training basics that beginners must master. Check it out:
Bonus #1: What you’ve been told is wrong.
I promise you that this is the case: Whatever sales training advice someone has given you in the past, I guarantee some—if not all—of it is wrong.
Unless you’re getting sales training from a badass sales manager or top-performing salesperson who knows everything about selling, most sales training out there is misleading or just plain ineffective.
There are so many old-school selling ideas in rotation today that it’s impossible to avoid them all. In fact, if you just do the opposite of what most people tell you, you’re probably going to be way better off.
Of course, the best approach is to figure out what strategies actually do work in sales, and commit to implementing those techniques instead. Read on to learn exactly what those strategies are.
Bonus #2: Be the complete opposite of what you think a salesperson is.
As I said before, the average sales training advice out there is wrong. What the media tells us about salespeople is also wrong. And in most cases, what salespeople themselves think they should act like is wrong.
Most salespeople strive to be that gregarious, funny, outgoing archetypal salesperson they see portrayed in TV shows and movies. But in today’s world, this couldn’t be further from ideal.
An effective salesperson today is someone who can read people, dig deep to understand them, and then follow a process to engage them in a real conversation using a systematic approach.
Be the complete opposite of what you think a salesperson is and you’ll be well on your way.
Bonus #3: Talk is cheap.
A lot of sales training focuses on what the salesperson should say. It’s no wonder that most salespeople think the gift of gab is the most important talent when it comes to selling.
In reality, prospects don’t want to hear salespeople talk. They don’t care about you. They don’t care about your product. They don’t care about your company, and they certainly don’t care about whatever you have to say about it.
Prospects only care about solving the challenges they’re dealing with right now. Talking at them is just a waste of time. Instead, focus on engaging prospects in a true two-way conversation, where you’re providing real value and sharing insights into what they care about most.
Bonus #4: Have a system.
If you’re a relatively new salesperson, the best sales training advice I can give you is to put a real selling system in place. And follow it.
If you’re just making up your selling approach as you go, you’re effectively shooting yourself in the foot. Follow a systematic approach to selling—whether it’s my approach or someone else’s that you trust.
Obviously, you just want to make sure your selling system has been proven to work in today’s world. Then follow that system religiously.
Bonus #5: Do your homework.
Use personalization to show your prospects that you’ve done your research and you understand who they are.
There’s no need to go overboard and do 25 minutes of research before every phone call. At my agency, we have a team of people do our research for us, so it’s ready to go. But if you don’t have that resource, just hop on LinkedIn for a few minutes to learn the basics about the prospect: their job background, their past employers, what topics they seem to be interested in, where they went to school, where they’re located, etc.
Ideally, use LinkedIn Navigator, which can give you much more valuable information and insight into prospects.
Bonus #6: Ask questions.
Not all questions are created equal.
The key is to ask questions that truly engage your prospects and get them to do the talking. Remember, if you’re doing all the talking in a selling situation, you’re in trouble.
The data shows that top-performing salespeople ask more questions to determine whether prospects are a fit early on in the sales process. So ask more questions.
Bonus #7: Don’t be afraid to lose sales.
Many salespeople are absolutely terrified of losing a sale. You know what? It happens. It’s not a big deal. I lose sales. Every top-performing salesperson loses sales sometimes. It’s not the end of the world.
Quite frankly, living in fear of losing a sale will make you a far less effective salesperson. You need to be completely unafraid of losing a sale. When you’re actually unafraid of losing a sale, prospects immediately sense it—and they respect you more.
Bonus #8: Be a peer, not a servant.
I see salespeople all the time who feel the need to put their prospects up on a pedestal. What they’re actually doing is putting themselves below their prospects, showing up as servants rather than true peers.
We need to be in a position where we see ourselves as true peers to our prospects. Don’t treat your prospects like gods. Instead, talk to them as an equal.
Of course, you don’t want to be overly casual with prospects, but you do want to make an effort to interact with them as you would any other normal person in your day-to-day life.
When you behave like a peer to your prospects, it’s disarming—and it makes them feel more comfortable with you.
Bonus #9: Stop persuading.
Your prospects don’t need to be persuaded to do business with you. What they need is a professional salesperson to determine whether there’s a fit—period.
Your prospects either need what you’re selling, or they don’t. There’s no reason to persuade someone who doesn’t need your product to buy it. That’s stupid. It doesn’t make sense.
So stop trying to persuade prospects to do business with you. Instead, engage them in a conversation. Ask them powerful, useful, systematic questions to determine what’s going on in their world. What are their challenges? What concerns are they having? What goals are most important to them? Doing business with you should just be a natural extension of solving their problems. Stop persuading.
Bonus #10: Always be learning.
Learning is a lifelong journey. If you stop learning, you’re in trouble.
In sales, so much changes so fast that the second we stop learning, we start failing. At my company, we’re always reading new books, learning new strategies, and implementing new ideas.
It’s essential to always be learning new approaches, especially if you’re relatively new in sales. You need to really master selling. If selling is something you’re committed to doing over the long term, you must always be learning. Read new books on selling. Read new books on business. Take courses. Educate yourself on your craft.
If you were a lawyer, you would’ve gone to law school, and then you’d have to get continuing education credits throughout the course of your career. In sales, there’s no such thing. So, it’s on us to continually learn and improve. Always be learning.
Bonus #11: Never get comfortable. Ever.
When salespeople get comfortable, they start to slip. I see it all the time. A salesperson will start out with tons of energy and commitment right out the gate. They they’ll start to make some money and feel great about themselves. At this point, they get comfortable.
So what do they do? They stop doing whatever it was that got them there in the first place.
We never want to get to the point where we’re super comfortable in sales. We always want to be a little uncomfortable, a little nervous. We always want to be looking over our shoulder thinking, “If I stop doing what I’m doing, this is all going to fall apart.”
Now, I don’t mean that you should be paranoid or stressed out. But you should also never feel completely comfortable. Constantly push, strive, and stretch outside your comfort zone to try things you haven’t tried before. The second we get comfortable is the second that we start to get worse.
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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.