I am a practicing salesperson.  I apply the principles and skills I write about each week in my daily quest for increased sales.  

I’ve learned many things pertaining to selling during my career.  First, selling is hard work and you must work hard at it every day to be successful.  Second, there is a lot to learn if you want to be good at your trade and you’ll never quit learning if you want to be great at selling.  Third, to be successful at selling, you’ve got to embrace the attitude of serving others and finding solutions to their problems.  Fourth, there will always be competition.  You must find a way to set yourself and your solution apart from the rest.  The fifth thing I have learned about selling, and maybe this is the most important:  making a sale is not an event, but rather the result of a finely tuned and crafted process.

Closing a sale generally does not happen because you did a certain thing.  Closing the sale typically happens because you did several things well, in the right order and at the right time.  I have read ninety-nine ways to close a sale and don’t apply any of those ways by themselves.  Some of the listed ways have their roots in a particular principle or skill but by themselves, are generally not that successful.  However, if you apply the principles associated with sales success, the closing of the sale becomes the logical conclusion of all that has preceded it.  In the world of sales, with the many choices and options available, you must demonstrate exceptional skills combined with hard work and perseverance to excel at selling.  Every sales situation is slightly different, requiring a game plan for each opportunity.  With this introduction, let me give you an example of applying principles to a process that will culminate in a sale.

Here are a couple of principles with which to begin.  Your very best next sale will come from a happy, satisfied customer, and referrals are the next best source of sales.  Spend time with your current customers to find new opportunities.  Spend time every day courting these customers you have served well, with the expectation of finding new opportunities for selling your products or services.  Once you discover a new opportunity, keep in mind the next principle: people don’t want to be sold, they want to buy.  So don’t just jump right in and start selling to the opportunity you have discovered.  Next principle: ask effective questions to reveal the depth and breadth of their need.  Get it all out on the table so you totally understand the need, and that they know you understand.  

The next principle you should apply in your sales process is to present your product or service as a solution to your prospect’s needs.  To effectively accomplish this step of the sales process you need to implement the principle of dialogue.  Invite your prospect to discuss with you the merits of your solution through dialogue.  Invite them to respond to each feature or benefit you present.  Allow the dialogue to flow freely based on their responses to your benefits.  Present features as needed, but remember the next principle; benefits sell.  Through practice, you will realize all objections have been uncovered as you engage in this dialogue.  You have now worked through another principle; people don’t buy if they have unresolved concerns.  You may not be able to resolve every concern at this point, but you now know what their concerns are and can work to resolve them immediately or over time.

The sale is not closed yet, however, you are getting closer.  Some prospects may ask you for the sale at this point while others will need to be gently nudged.  In the process of dealing with their objections, ask for the sale, if you have satisfactorily resolved their remaining concerns.  This principle makes closing of the sale, the logical conclusion of all the steps and principles that have led you to this point.  This is a simple example but it reveals the process associated with selling.  Selling is an emotional process of one step or principle followed by another and yet another, all leading to the logical final step of deciding to buy your product.  Now, I don’t want to suggest that a salesperson will close every sale.  They won’t.  However, you will make more sales by applying the correct principles of your sales process, than by just doing a lot of “stuff.”

There are still other principles that should be applied as needed.  They might include: effective follow-up, incorporating the correct timing, presenting physical gifts of knowledge, emotion and endorsements while emphasizing specific benefits.  Other principles might include: presenting to all decision makers as a group, not one at a time, setting the agenda as part of each contact, making the buying decision easy and simple by doing as much of the physical effort as possible, providing demos or site visits where appropriate, asking for referrals based on the excellent buying experience you have provided them; and the list goes on.  Put together your own process for selling and through the application of these principles, your sales will definitely increase.