Selling is the art of persuading someone to buy a product or service, and convincing them that yours is best. But how many of us can honestly say we can do it naturally? This article looks at what makes someone a natural at sales and where the skills you need come from.
We have all heard the phrase ‘the gift of the gab’ and it is used to describe someone who can keep an audience interested in what they are saying and speak with conviction. We call it a gift because it seems only a small percentage of us can do it and is a talent we all want to have. But where does this skill come from and is it all you need to make a good pitch and close a deal?
If you search online for ‘the key to close a sale’, you will be overloaded with people claiming to have the ultimate theories on how to close any deal. Over the years, selling has become an art form and it requires a range of skills that make up a good sales person: confidence, emotional intelligence, presentation skills, business acumen and the ability to put yourself out there.
We are not claiming this is all you need to succeed, but these are traits often seen in the top sellers, and when you start to break their personality down, you begin to spot them individually. Before we look at the where the skills come from, we need to look into the skills themselves so we can understand what the end result will be.
You will hear people say that if you have enough confidence you can sell anything, but this is not always the case. Having the belief in yourself is important, but if you have too much, you will come across as arrogant or even rude to any potential customer. For sales you need to have a positive mind-set for the pitch, but thinking that you will make a sale every time is unrealistic and can do more harm than good.
This is the ability to judge what someone is thinking and how they are reacting to your presentation. Emotional intelligence is closely linked to the study of body language, as how we position ourselves says a lot about our emotions, even without us saying a word. Having this skill whilst making a presentation can help you to tailor your approach to reflect how your prospects reaction.
Presentations are a huge part of business. Knowing how to do them well and with conviction can make the difference between closing a deal and your prospect going to someone else. A presentations is your way to show what you can do and how you hold yourself under pressure, but if you do it badly, it will reflect back to your company.
Business acumen is how you present yourself to other business people and what image you want to give of you and your company. It is about tailoring how you act depending on the situation or environment you are in.
Getting out there
Lastly we come to the core of starting a business, which is putting yourself out there. For many, going into a room full of strangers can be intimidating, but for self-starters it is part of starting a business and networking can be useful resource for getting contacts.
So where do these skills come from?
Now we have looked at what the traits are that that good sales people have, we should see why those who make it went into business in the first place.
Why go it alone?
Many TV shows that have looked to answer this question, and one theme that comes across is they wanted to make a better life for themselves. If we look at Michelle Mone who owns the fashion brand Ultimo, she grew up in a poor part of Glasgow where her family did not have a lot to live from and she had a tough time at school. These negative parts of her life sparked the fuse and acted as a driving force to make a better life for both her and her family. She had few qualifications and had to build her fashion brand from the ground up.
Another figure to look at is Theo Paphitis. Theo is a popular TV figure but he came from a modest background, and his family struggled to get by. He is also dyslexic, and when he grew up, this was not recognised as a condition like it is today. Because of this, school was a difficult time for him and he wanted to prove to people he could make it and started his own business.
Two themes from these stories: Poor backgrounds and little education.
Lord Sugar also left school at an early age and become a huge success without any qualifications with his company Amstrad. He was a shy child at first but he threw himself into the world of business and developed his portfolio of skills from the age of 13. His driving force was again to get out of a bad upbringing and make a comfortable life for himself.
Just from a quick look at these three figures, we have seen they had a tough upbringing and wanted to either prove people wrong or make a better life for themselves.
What can we learn from this?
We have seen that with little or no education you can still make it in business, as it usually acts as a driving force to keep going and change your situation. The benefit from going into business without any qualifications is that you learn by doing, rather than in a classroom.
But many people have similar situations in their upbringing and do not use these as catalysts. It is time to see why a select few will go into business and why some of us do not. The points below looks at some of the reasons that hold people back and why they should not let them.
Fear of failure
When you ask why someone does not follow through with an idea, fear of failure is usually what they say as a response. Fear is a big part of sales and it is something that needs to be overcome when making a call or a presentation. A lot of the fear is from external expectations from either family or friends and being told it is wrong to fail. But all the great business men and women have made mistakes along the way and they learn from them for the next venture.
Leaving your stable job, getting a loan and not having a regular income can be the main reason of stopping someone going into business .If you want to start a new venture but still have security, it can be helpful to stay in your current role and do it in your spare time, or even team up with someone who can be the race of your idea.
Lack of knowledge
As we have seen from our case studies, having no education does not mean you should not go into business. Business is a practice that does not always require the top qualifications, as practical experience is often the best learning experience you can get. There are business courses out there that are great for teaching the theory and learning from case studies, but nothing beats learning by doing.
In this investigation, we have looked at the skills needed to be a good sales person, why some people went into business and what holds others back. It is now time to go back to our original question of where do the skills come from? We believe it is a fair argument to say they come from practical experience that is achieved with a will to succeed. You may already have some of the traits mentioned and others that need to be developed through practice, but it is unlikely you are born with them.
We hope you have found this article of interest and learnt something new about some of the popular business figures we see a lot in the media.
About the author
Our CRM is a professional software development company. Located on the Epping Forest/East London border, we provide small business users across the UK with the original CRM software application for Microsoft SharePoint.
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