Sales can be hard. Whether you’re asking someone to buy a ticket, idea, or program, it’s not a skill that comes naturally to most people. But like any skill, it can be learned. With practice (and a little bravery), you will get better at selling.
Here are 5 tips to build your sales courage so you can get out there and get business:
1. Focus on Service
Many entrepreneurs don’t think about service. They don’t think about other people. They just think about themselves, and what they can get. Building sales courage starts with putting your focus on being of service to other people, and taking a genuine interest in the problems or challenges they have, that you can help them address.
Sales courage starts when you shift your focus off of yourself, and put it on how you can be of service to others. Sales is not about you. In fact, selling has less to do with whether you say the perfect words, and a whole lot more to do with how well you listen to the other person and what they want to be, do, or have.
Before you begin a sales call, get in the service frame of mind. Maybe it’s taking a deep breath and asking ‘how can I help you?’ before the conversation begins. Maybe it’s consciously giving the other person your undivided attention. Interestingly, focusing on service ramps up your sales courage like nothing else – because it puts your attention where it belongs…on the person with whom you are speaking.
“Pretend that every single person you meet has a sign around his or her neck that says, ‘Make me feel important.’ Not only will you succeed in sales, you will succeed in life.” – Mary Kay Ash
2. Practice Listening
There’s one skill that will win you customers, investors, and colleagues like nothing else—listening. If you’ve ever been to a party where you were stuck talking with someone who only talks about themselves, you get it. Listening helps you tune into the information a prospective customer is giving you. If you aren’t listening, you will miss all sorts of valuable signals with the potential to boost your sales results.
Events like speed networking, where you can have plenty of shorter conversations with lots of new people, are a great way to notice who is listening and who isn’t – on top of honing your listening skills. Get comfortable talking about what you sell, in a clear and fascinating way.
Watch people’s eyes. Do they glaze over when you’re talking, or do they lean in with curiosity? Notice the people who listen to you, and what they do that shows you that they are listening. Despite what sales gurus teach – like sales is smooth talking and psychological manipulation – for most entrepreneurs, sales actually come from first making other people feel heard.
3. Count the No’s
Selling is a numbers game. As the top salespeople in the world will tell you: it’s not the number of people who say yes to you. It’s the number of people who say no – and your ability and willingness to let those no’s run off you like water on a duck’s back.
Yes, show up for every sales opportunity with your full attention and willingness to be of service to the other person. But don’t get emotionally attached. Sales conversations are like buses, if you don’t catch this one, there is another one coming soon. While this may sound counterintuitive, it is a secret to building sales courage – and serious sales skills.
One tool you can use to count the no’s you get is a courage diary. You record how many sales asks you make in any given day, week, or month, along with the outcome of the conversation, and one thing you learned about selling that you will do differently next time.
The great thing about having one is that it sets the expectation that you need to get one hundred people to say ‘no’ to you. That’s the goal. Which is actually a trick, because by the time you have gone through the trouble of asking one hundred people to buy from you, your sales courage will be through the roof!
4. Study Your Results
Once you commit to count the no’s, you’ll be in the powerful position of taking action. Action taking is critical to boosting your sales courage because it gives you something you won’t get anywhere else: experience.
Each conversation you have gives you valuable feedback, and an opportunity to learn and develop your skill. For example, if someone tells you now isn’t a good time, you just received feedback that timing is important. You could then ask yourself, ‘how can I serve someone who isn’t ready to buy yet?’ Then strategize.
Maybe you think to yourself, ‘I can ask the person when would be a better time, note their response, and create a simple reminder to follow up.’ Turn each sales interaction you have into exercise for your service muscle.
5. It’s Just a Conversation
The first few conversations where you ask someone to buy something, brace yourself, they will probably say no. That is totally normal. It’s like trying on a new coat – it may not feel like your old one, so it takes a little while to get used to how it fits. Sales conversations are a new and different thing.
But then again, you’ve been having conversations with other people all your life! Talking to people is natural. It’s something you do every day. What’s different about sales conversations is that you’re asking people if they want to buy something you are selling. Don’t make it weird by following a ‘sales script,’ asking people corny questions, or trying to push those who said they aren’t interested.
A lot of the sales advice and articles out there are based on dominance models of human interaction that don’t respect the decision-making intelligence of prospects (especially women). If that doesn’t jive with how you do business, keep walking. Sales courage doesn’t come from disrespecting people – it comes when you are humble and open enough to keep getting out there until you’ve gotten your hundred no’s.