What does selling “harder” really mean for your small business?

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Cameras, Memory & Batteries, for sale at ABF
Cameras, Memory & Batteries, for sale at ABF (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The other day I saw a notice in a Spar supermarket that caught my attention. It was a letter written by a young girl on an A4 sheet of line paper with the small cut out, tear-off strips at the bottom, you know the ones that you usually find on notice boards. Well, the young wrote a brief later explaining that her silk worms had hatched and now she had too many of them. Her dad had suggested to her that she earn some pocket money by selling them at 25 cents each. She noted that all you needed was a shoebox and some mulberry leaves that you could get from a tree in the park across from the shopping centre. She gave her dad’s contact details. Already one or two of the tear-off address details had been removed.

Selling is not difficult if you approach it in the way that this little girl did. The appeal was straightforward, honest and sincere. She even handled objections upfront, telling people how to find a shoebox home for the silkworms they could buy from her and where to get food for the silk worms.

The thing is we see in front cover headline articles on how small business owners should be selling “harder”. But this is conflicting advice because if you tried to sell harder to potential customers you could easily put them off. By pushing for the sale you could come across as “pushy” and aggressive. Instead of persuading customers to buy, you could be repelling them.

For my money I would say that selling harder actually means doing your homework when it comes to looking for prospective buyers. You need to work harder at prospecting, finding potential customers in your local or niche market that may not know about your product or service. If you have formed a start-up company to sell your new product or service, you need to cast your net as wide as possible for all prospects who may have an interest in your product or service. The hard work could also involve making appointments with customers, going to see them and presenting and handling objections.

Ultimately, the hardest work in selling is closing the sale. As professional sales trainer Zig Ziglar once said you are only really a “professional visitor” as a salesperson and less you close sales. Yet the error that most salespeople make in closing the sale is thinking that the harder they tried to convince people to buy, the more successful they will be. This is erroneous thinking because potential customers buy products themselves and really only need the salesperson to guide them, handle their objections and make sure whatever product they want to buy is available and can be delivered to them either immediately from stock or shipped to them.

When you approach a potential buyer as a fellow human being rather than a prospect for a sale, you will most likely stand a better chance of selling to them. We’ve all had these amateurish salespeople calling us and thinking that they can convince us to buy insurance, a new cellphone contract or even a training course just through their smooth talk. Unless you approach prospects with questions to find out the needs upfront, you are going to put yourself in the position where you are trying to sell somebody something what they don’t need, want or desire. That’s why qualifying potential buyers is so important.

If you have just opened the doors of your new start-up trying to sell the product or service that you have spent maybe months developing, you will need to know how to sell. If you have a need to learn selling fast, want to understand the fundamentals and approach the selling process with the right attitude, then put your name down for my forthcoming book “Breakthrough Ideas”. I have a full chapter, based on experience and with advice from master salespeople, that will quickly show you the ropes.

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