Tips for Improving Your Selling Skills

by WOHe

This column is intended to move you toward improving the
skills’
of the most important salesperson you know: you. I’ve been
fortunate enough to make a living with my ability to sell. Most of
you who read this are accountable for making sales happen, as well.
If you’re not directly responsible for sales, I would expect that
you find yourself nurturing sales made by others, helping to make
them successful and preserving the expected profit.’

We never think of it as unusual for people to improve their
skills related to hobbies such as bowling, golf, etc. In fact, most
people are willing to spend time and money to improve those skills.
Investing in a new putter seems insignificant if it will shave a
stroke or two. Likewise, it makes sense to me to invest time and
money to ensure you can maximize your use of computer software, the
Internet, and all of the new technology available today.’

But when was the last time you invested time and money in
enhancing your selling skills?
I suspect most of us would be hard pressed to come up with cases
when improving our selling skills won the battle for our time and
money.

Many people believe the old saying, “If you do the same old
thing in the same old way, you’ll get the same old results.” But in
today’s rapidly changing world, this simply isn’t true
anymore.’

A changing market
Changes in the market we serve continue seem to be accelerating
with the growth of modern technology, and if we continue to do the
same old things, we won’t get the same results. Rather, it’s more
likely that we’ll be out of business, or, at best, existing and
wallowing in mediocrity.

Plato said that before you can move the world, you must first
move yourself. Likewise, if you want to improve your selling skills
and move your sales productivity to a higher level, you must first
move yourself.’

If you’re an employee, it’s nice if your company offers and
commits to improving your sales skills but many employers don’t see
this as their responsibility. Many manufacturers offer training
sessions focusing on product knowledge, but while this is certainly
useful, few take this a step further and teach how to turn that
information into sales.’

A major challenge facing salespeople today is learning how to
sell to a customer who is a far cry from the customers of
yesterday. Today’s consumers have access to more knowledge than
ever before, and they want control, despite having less time than
ever. They have, indeed, raised the bar of expectation in their
major purchasing process.’

Tips for growth
I don’t have all the answers for improving one’s selling skills,
but I offer the following list of ideas, some of which you might
find tantalizing enough to motivate you to “first move
yourself.”‘

1. Dedicate a portion of each week to developing sales skills.
Until you’re willing to invest time in your selling vocation, no
improvement will take place. You may feel like there isn’t enough
time in your schedule to do this. But until you’re willing to make
the time commitment, you’re unlikely to see much improvement. Do
you have a quiet hour on Tuesdays before you open for business, or
can you find time at home in the evening? Even a 15-minute break
during lunch can make a difference. I don’t know when the best time
is for you, but I do know if you don’t set time aside in a regular
and systematic matter, you will never have “enough” time.

2. Review your entire selling process, focusing on the areas of
where you believe your skills are the weakest. I suggest you first
focus on a specific area that you see as your weakest, rather than
trying to improve everything at once. For example, I believe most
sales people are weak in the questioning process. We talk too much
and don’t listen to our customers. This also impacts qualifying the
customer, and uncovering their needs, wants, desires, and
expectations. To me, its pretty simple what we know has little or
no value until we know what our customer knows.

3. Find the resources to learn the skills you’re interested in
developing. For example, find a mentor who has had or is enjoying a
successful selling career. This may be someone in your company, the
person who is selling you insurance or a peer in your local NKBA
chapter.`’

There are lots of successful salespeople close to you, it’s just
a case of recognizing who they are and soliciting their cooperation
in giving you information to elevate your skills. Or seek out an
organization offering sales training like Dale Carnegie. I believe
you will find that this or similar for-profit companies have
excellent course work designed to improve selling skills. These
offer two advantages: They charge a fee, so you have a financial
investment to recover, and they have regular scheduled meetings,
which help to keep you on track in terms of learning and practicing
the skills taught. The commitment of money and a regular schedule
can help to motivate you toward working toward your goals of
improvement.

4. Find the right books. Get to the bookstore, the Internet or
your local library. There are many books on subject matter closely
related to selling. Some titles to look for are “Body Language,”
“Live to Win,” “Inside Your Mind,” “Go For It” and “The Other Guy
Blinked.” For those of you who spend a great deal of time driving,
try books on tape these allow you to make good use of time that
might otherwise be wasted.

5. Look for seminars in your area which teach sales or related
skills. These are usually one to three days in length and your
investment varies from $100 to $700. In addition, you can incur
travel expenses, hotel/motel costs and food costs. If you find a
seminar which is a fit to your needs, this investment is modest and
easily recoverable.
Don’t lose sight of the fact that there are many areas of knowledge
we need in the kitchen and bath industry. Sales winners will learn
and possess creative skills, design skills, business skills,
administrative skills, organizational skills, and risk
skills.’
After teaching the “Successful Selling Skills” course for the NKBA
in Atlanta years ago, I saw a tee shirt with the inscription,
“Ignorance is a prison knowledge is the key.”

How true this is!

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