Most entrepreneurs recognize that selling more goods or services is key to growing a business. But that recognition is of little help to entrepreneurs whose introverted personalities are geared more toward developing products or solutions to business problems than driving sales.
Fortunately, even small-business owners who hate selling can nevertheless succeed at doing so if they take a step back, rethink the sales process, and try some of these techniques.
1. Develop your offering’s sweet spot. Before you try to sell anything, do your homework. Identify your target market(s) and optimize your product or service for those customers. Maximize your expertise. Hone the way you describe and explain your offering, and how it delivers its advantages and benefits. Sales experts often call this your “unique selling proposition.”
Once you’ve found your sweet spot, salesmanship is no longer a tactical game of getting strangers to buy from you. It becomes a simple matter of telling your story to enough people who are likely to be interested and eager to sign up.
2. Sell naturally and honestly. A common reason that entrepreneurs feel uncomfortable selling is they think they can’t be themselves. They feel they must couch their pitch in hyperbolic terms, de-emphasize or gloss over certain aspects of their product or service, catch prospects in “a buying mood,” and so forth.
Forget all that. When you have a product or service that you’re passionate about, “selling” is simply a matter of sharing your heartfelt beliefs and enthusiasm with others. Just give people a clear, concise explanation of the benefits your product or service provides and then ask if they’re interested. After that, “salesmanship” boils down to addressing any concerns or barriers to purchasing they may have.
3. Build relationships via social networks. Expand your personal ability to reach people by putting out your message through one or more of the social media, including LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.
Don’t worry about “selling” anything in your interactions with your connections, fans, or followers. Simply make and maintain contact with people while expressing your passion, communicating your expertise, and accommodating anyone who wants to learn more about your specialty, including your product or service.
4. Ask for the order. The biggest difference between salesmanship and any other kind of human interaction is very basic: When you’re interested in selling something, at some point it’s on you to “ask for the order.” You can ask once or several times, spontaneously or as part of a studied sequence. What matters most is that you make explicit your desire for the other person to buy your product or service.
Fortunately, you don’t have to press the issue. There are as many different ways to ask for the order as there are salespeople and sales relationships. Once you relax into the selling process via the suggestions above, you’ll discover a moment when it feels natural to complete the transaction by prompting your prospect to try what you are offering. You’ll never get 100 percent acceptance, so don’t expect it. But recognize that you’ll get very little buy-in until you ask.