If you are remotely serious about business then you will know that selling skills are important. Selling is where it all happens and success there is succeeding in business. This is not to take away from the other parts of the business but to emphasise the importance of selling skills. Having spent many years in selling roles there are things I have learnt that can simplify the idea of sales and learning about selling. I’d like to share these tips today for those who have little to no sales knowledge but are willing to learn.

People buy value

Like many processes, the sale begins long before we engage any potential customers. When people buy something they don’t just buy an item, they buy the value it brings. This seems a little corny but in practice, it cuts across the board. Whether you are talking about essentials or luxuries people buy value. The Clayton Christensen jobs theory states that people don’t want a drill, they want something that can do the job of putting a hole in the wall and a drill does that. While water is a necessity those who buy it do so for the value it brings. So you must first figure out what value you’re offering. What is value? Value is what the customer says it is.

Qualify prospects

The second tip for selling is to make sure you’re talking to the right people. It doesn’t matter what you’re selling, you have some sort of target market. There should be some sort of characteristics that identify your customers. The key here is to make sure that when you are engaged in a conversation you are doing so with every chance of selling. People who do not disclose their prices upfront may have a lot of conversations but many of them end when they mention the price. Imagine talking to a person for 5 or 10 minutes to discover they don’t own a car when you were trying to sell them car insurance. This is the role of FAQs on your website/blog or social media. This should be incorporated in your advertising too.

Pay attention

A mistake that many who lack experience make when selling is trying to talk their way into a sale. This rarely if at all works and it’s easy to understand why. The first point I made is that people buy value and value is what the customer says it is. That implies listening to the customer at some point during the conversation. The best to sell what you have is to relate it to the customer and you cannot relate things to a customer you don’t know. This means listening in conversation but also listening to the market as a whole. Pay attention to what individual customers and groups (like social media audiences) are saying about your product or market. What is missing? What would they appreciate? What would they rather you got rid of?

Always be closing

Closing a sale is when one gets the customer to the bottom line. It’s not the same with every business. This could mean getting them to sign, order, pay a deposit, pay in full or prepay. The point is closing is conforming to the customer, also known as converting. A well-designed sales process makes it possible to close the customer at any point. If you have a well-practised script what happens if the customer just walks up and says “I want 10 please”? The idea is to make it possible for customers to complete the transaction at any time. This includes using copy that directs customers towards the close and offering many opportunities to head for the close. Which dovetails nicely with the final tip.

Make it easy

Complicated sales processes chase willing customers away more than many people realise. When a customer makes the buy decision the last thing you want is a lot of friction for them to complete the process. Friction gives people time for doubts and second thoughts. It also adds to the cost of buying something and that will do your chances great harm. Make the process as simple as possible and make sure it’s simple for the customer and not just you.