Wednesday, January 9, 2019

The Art Of Selling As A Business Owner - Forbes

While I hold the title of CEO, about 30% of my job has and will likely continue to be in a sales and business development capacity. I’m often asked how someone who has a background in accounting could be such a stellar sales person. Well, who better to sell your company and ideas than yourself?

Being an outgoing and confident sales person isn’t always possible and there are many business owners who are not great at effectively selling their products or services. I never set out to be a salesperson, but being in a position where selling was crucial to my success meant I had to find many ways to excel at it. Fortunately for me, I am a natural connector, which helps me to be a compelling salesperson. Connecting others and helping them build stronger and loyal relationships has always motived me.

I also really believe in the service I provide. Sales success depends on how much you believe in your product or service. In my line of work, I truly believe that outsourced accounting makes economic sense for growing businesses to use the fractional accounting model. Once you’ve created a product or service that will genuinely help people and that you truly believe in, selling becomes easy.

Regardless, this is not an article about creating a great product or service. I would like to share strategies I’ve learned along the way that can help you become a better spokesperson for your organization.

1. Demonstrate value.

First and foremost, you need to demonstrate the value of the product or service you are offering. Focus on solving a problem, even if it’s a problem consumers don’t know they have. It is crucial to understand your customer. What are they missing, what do they need and how can you help make things better for them? Ask these questions and take good notes. You want to create a proposal that will resonate.

2. Perfect your communication skills.

Just as crucial as understanding your customer and their needs is that you must excel at verbal and nonverbal communication. Soft skills, emotional intelligence and excellent communication skills are paramount to being a good salesperson. You are not going to buy something from someone who can’t communicate -- unless you really want that item and they are the only person selling it.

3. Be confident.

Finally, you must have confidence. Be quick to execute, always follow up and don’t take one fail as the end all, be all. Be confident enough to be resilient. Things won’t always go your way and you need to be able to bounce back quickly. Stand firm in who you are and what you believe in.

Here’s how I have put these tips into practice throughout my career:

When I was in my MBA program, we had an assignment to find a product, buy it cheap and sell it at a high margin. We had to promote and sell the product ourselves in order to get credit. I ended up winning because I bought 100 purse hooks from China for $7 each and sold them to ladies at a bar for $20 apiece. I took them with me every time I went out and brought them to events, demonstrating their “coolness” in front of others to create demand. I believed in the product, knew where and how to sell it and still use it today.

In my business today, I am known for my ability to bring on new clients quickly and efficiently. Because of my accounting background, I can speak confidently about balance sheets, key performance indicators, break-even numbers and burn rates. In a nutshell, I am a subject matter expert in accounting and can help businesses in a wide range of industries. How you represent yourself is pivotal. Make sure you know what you are talking about.

A few years ago, I met the owner of a PR firm at a networking event. I started asking her about her business and told her that we do outsourced accounting. Turns out, she was still doing her accounting herself even though she didn’t understand accounting. I started asking questions like, what are your most profitable accounts, what is your employee utilization and how often do you look at your cash flow forecast? She didn’t know the answers to any of those questions, so I started explaining why understanding these aspects of her business was so important.

By the time our conversation was done, she was ready to trust my firm with her accounting needs. Within three months, she had accurate financials and was able to answer all the questions that she originally didn’t know the answers to. She shortly became one of our biggest cheerleaders. In the last few years, she has referred us to several friends and other business owners whom she knew needed to hear the same advice. I found a way to solve a problem and helped her succeed.

Although not everyone is a natural salesperson, most people can learn the art of selling. It takes confidence, perseverance and the desire to help others. If you weren’t born with a natural ability to sell, try practicing the above tips. Be confident, be strong and be authentic. Solve a problem and don’t try to sell someone something that isn’t going to help them.



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