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How to Improve Your Sales Skills, Even If You’re Not a Salesperson

When people imagine the stereotype of a salesman, it is basically a conniving snake who wants to sell them anything and everything and scam them out of as much money as possible. And with interpretations like that, it is no wonder that so many people are not interested in becoming salespeople. But selling is a natural and important aspect of a person’s career, whether it is selling one’s own ideas or simply selling oneself. So in an article for Harvard Business Review, Rebecca Knight shares advices for selling that will not make you feel like a terrible person.

For Sale: You

In the first place, get rid of the “sales = evil” mentality. A good salesperson seeks to push people toward taking action that will genuinely improve their well-being. You can be that kind of salesperson. And to do that, you need to think of selling as a collaborative effort, rather than you imposing something on someone else. Look at the challenges the person is facing from that person’s perspective and think about how you can facilitate solutions. Likewise, think generally about the sorts of things that motivate and excite that person, and contemplate how you can pitch from an angle that agrees with those motivations.

In other words, a big part of selling is to do your homework on the person. Another helpful step is to practice your pitch on other people before you try it on the person who really matters. It could be a good idea to pitch people “such as your grandmother,” who are going to ask questions that help you better cultivate your position. Furthermore, be mindful of your facial expressions and how much time you spend just talking about yourself while pitching. You want to come across as confident but not self-absorbed.

Ultimately, the goal of any sale is to seal the deal, about which Knight writes this:

Being good at selling means you both “understand the ‘customer’ and understand the path they need to go through to buy,” says [Thomas Steenburgh, professor at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business]. It’s rare that anyone will immediately bite upon hearing your pitch — no matter how brilliant it is. Your counterpart “might need to assess the financial impact of such a purchase,” review competitors, or check with a higher-up before signing off. Regardless of what that next phase may be, you should “ask permission to move forward.” He recommends saying something like, “Are you ready to take the next step? What else can I do to help you make this decision?”

For a couple case studies illustrating some of these ideas, you can view the original article here: https://hbr.org/2017/12/break-the-cycle-of-stress-and-distraction-by-using-your-emotional-intelligence

About John Friscia

John Friscia is the Editor of Computer Aid's Accelerating IT Success. He began working for Computer Aid, Inc. in 2013 and continues to provide graphic design support for AITS. He graduated summa cum laude from Shippensburg University with a B.A. in English.

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