Different industries tend to use different sales techniques. After all, if you're selling high-end financial products to giant corporations you'll need to approach your prospects in an entirely different way from someone who sells books at a neighborhood bookstore. Still, the fundamental rules of how to sell remain the same regardless of your product type and customer base.
Sales Rule #1: Know The Product
If you don't understand what you're selling, you are going to suffer. You won't know the best customer fit for your product, so you won't be able to do a good job of qualifying prospects. You won't know all the product's benefits, which means you'll be constantly missing chances to woo prospective customers. And if a prospect asks you a technical question, you won't know the answer... which takes away your option of presenting yourself as an expert or a consultant. Selling without product knowledge is like running a marathon with one leg tied behind your back.
Sales Rule #2: Honor Your Prospects
If you feel contempt for your prospects, they'll know it – no matter how hard you try to hide it. You need to put yourself into a respectful, helpful mindset before you so much as pick up the phone. Most people think of salespeople as selfish and out to help themselves, which is why the consultative approach is so effective – it turns that stereotype on its head. But if you actually are putting yourself first, your prospects will be hostile and unhappy even if you manage to pressure them into buying. Which means they'll almost inevitable tell their friends, family and co-workers how much they dislike you. This is not the word of mouth reputation you want to create!
Sales Rule #3: Be Truthful
Another salesperson stereotype that you'll have to overcome is the untrustworthy trickster. The salesperson who sells products that break down in a week or cons prospects into buying a lot of unnecessary extras. Like the previous stereotype, the way to overcome this unfortunate feeling is to do just the opposite. By being completely straightforward and honest with your prospects, you'll create a positive impression that will keep them coming back for more (and hopefully send their friends to you as well).
Sales Rule #4: Be Likeable
In many ways, success in sales comes down to personality. Ask a hundred star salespeople what approach they take and you'll get a hundred and one answers – but what they'll all have in common is likeability. Almost all resistance to buying boils down to fear on the prospect's part. If they don't like the person who's trying to sell them something, they're unlikely to buy no matter how great the product itself is. But if they like and feel comfortable with a salesperson, they're much more likely to take the plunge.
Sales Rule #5: Never Stop Growing
The fundamentals of sales are always the same, but the tools and techniques that you can use to apply them are constantly changing. Like doctors and lawyers, salespeople need to stay on top of these changes. This includes internal company changes, such as policy shifts and product updates, and external changes, such as the rise of social media or new state and federal regulations for your industry. Salespeople can never stop learning and growing. But that's not really a drawback because if you're constantly learning and developing your skills, you're unlikely to become bored. Instead of giving the same pitch to the same prospects day after day, you can explore new tactics, talk to new people and keep stretching yourself in new ways.