Last week, we asked the Hackerspace hive mind to share their tips on how to become better at a sales job. Here is their best advice.
Kinja user SamH said that sales success starts with the basics: "being friendly, looking approachable by wearing the right clothing for the atmosphere that you'll be selling in and smiling in a non-creepy way at people." He added that "something I've found to be true in my experience is that deeper voices are usually what people are more likely to buy from-but if you have a higher tone to your voice being soft spoken can work to your advantage." (I guess my current diet of coffee and cigarettes has me on the right track.)
New Kinja user castillo responded to our Twitter invite and shared some tips on the importance of reading a customer's body language (something I am terrible at):
I do have some tips, abit I'm not sure how helpful they are. I'm a salesman part time that works at Staples. Currently, I'm number 7 out of 220ish people in my district and have had the great fortune of learning behind some great salesmen. The biggest thing to consider is not to judge a customer by how they dress or look. If your job is to sell, then sell at that persons level of education about the product. I won't talk about processor speeds to an older person who just wants a computer to just access facebook. That being said, get an idea of what they know about the product and find the comfort level of discussion. Watch body language while you talk. I tend to notice people with closed arms stop listening after I explain prices. Those customers tend to say no while customers with open arms or that lean in towards you are willing to hear more about what you have to say. Everyone will at least listen to you if what you have to say doesn't sound robotic, too.
orcim weighed in to stress the importance of making a connection between the customer and you product:
There's a principle I learned from a sales person that I really like. It has to do with the connection between what you are trying to sell, and the self-perceived success of the person you are selling to; if there is no connection, you maybe could make a sale, but it would be a worthless one.
Another way to say that: if what you are showing/selling doesn't enhance the thing that person you are selling to thinks is important, it's not a sale. It's a "have a nice, if you have any questions, please ask" moment. But linking a connection between their needs, and what you have can make the sale (given you're following the sales basics.) Ie: you chat someone up, and ask if there's a spot where they are looking for something to fit. They describe it, you ask questions, and now you have enough information to suggest something that may make them "successful" in their intentions. You show interest in them, you strive to understand their needs, and then you offer things that may help them achieve those needs (which happens to achieve your needs the second theirs are met.) Defining your success in terms of your customer is a powerful way to live.
Lastly, Thunder-Lips shared a 10,000-foot view on sales and the context of sales people in a wider organization:
I would say, outside of personal appearance, things I always work on are making sure I have a positive facial expression. It's crucial to be aware of this. You could be frowning and not even know it.
Another thing that I think is always important, is knowing when to shrink and enlarge your appearance. By this I mean, making your personal bubble larger or smaller. You can easily intimidate a customer into your competitors hands by simply being too big at the wrong time.
I personally think integrity really gets lost when you see dollar signs. Make sure when you make the deal you are not burning people in the operations department of whatever industry you are in. This last one gets scoffed at a bit. I have heard more than a few salesmen say fuck that they can figure it out, but, if you take care of the people that carry out your deal, they will take care of you too.
Thanks to all who answered our call. As someone who has never held a sales job before – but will be working part-time in one this summer – I already feel more confident about the challenges that lie ahead.
But our discussion doesn't have to end here. If you have more sales tips or anecdotes to share, have at it in the comments below.
[Image via Flickr user pgurt2]