By Robert Stitt
If you are the entrepreneur, the founder, the owner/CEO, then you know how important it is for your sales to have an upward trend. If you aren’t making sales, you aren’t getting paid. Recently, Black Enterprise shared some advice from expert salesman and author Keith Willis who wrote “The 10 Laws of The Ultimate RainMaker: Shake A Hand, Make A Friend, And Get Paid!”.
While he doesn’t put it quite this way, Willis suggests you take a more “Eastern” approach to sales. In the Middle and Far East, business is not conducted in a ”wham, bam” fashion. Relationships are developed that go beyond a single sale. In Willis’ words, “People do not want to feel like you’re just trying to sell them and no one ever wants to take a trip down Regret Avenue…Be sure you understand your new friends’ needs, desires, and goals. If you have a solution, then talk about it. It takes a person with high integrity to acknowledge their product or service isn’t the best match. If you will keep the focus on having a great relationship, then you won’t ever have to force the shoe to fit.”
In the world of relationships, “The Call” is something of a cult legend. Entire sitcoms are written around the concept of when to call, how to call, should I call, etc. Willis suggests that your relationship with your business partners should not have that much mystery. Call them the next morning. You cannot go wrong by following up. In fact, if things did not turn out as planned, you want to be able to take care of it before they have the opportunity to stew about it. If you want to stay in touch but don’t want it to seem contrived, Willis has a solution to that as well. “Recognize their accomplishments, birthdays, and even condolences when applicable,” he says. “What comes from the heart always reaches the heart, and details do matter, so polish them up.”
Most important, Willis says you must know your business. Do you really have what your customer needs? What is your true value to them? This isn’t about manufacturing sales, this is about truly meeting a customer’s needs. He suggests making a list of 50 people or businesses who could use your product or service. Decide who the 10 are who are most likely to buy, 20 who might with a couple of calls, and those who will take some development. Don’t try to force things. “Usually your big-dollar sales and may take 12 months to gain the business,” he says.
With a little time, effort, and honest self-evaluation, you can be on your way to calling yoursef an “expert salesman” as well.