TL;DR – This article is particularly applicable to B2B sales, even if it gives general advise that could be used for B2C as well.
Sales teams are the basis of any company. Without Sales, no clients, and without clients, no product and no operations; basically, there will be nothing left.
The power of Sales
Knowing how to sell is one of these skills that any entrepreneur / startup employee should know. Whether you work in Operations, Customer Support, or even in Product or Tech team — that’s a skill that can be useful in your daily work. The Customer Support people need to know how to sell the product when they are on the phone or chat talking with current or potential clients.
The Product team should know how to sell the tech roadmap they are planning to implement to the rest of the team — internal sale vs. external sale in this case.
To sell well, don’t sell
I have done a lot of Sales in my startup life, both from holding dedicated Sales positions and through other functions as well. Sales is something I intrinsically enjoy; not only for the thrill of closing an account and bringing revenue to the company, but also because it can lead to meeting very interesting people.
This is especially true for B2B sales when I have to meet up with companies and offices. Sometimes we talk a bit about the product, and then the conversation shifts to something else; the business plan of our ventures, the industry, any pain point we are facing, or something totally different. These are the discussions I enjoy the most.
On the contrary, I have always personally hated when I am approached by some Sales people with an extremely “salesy” and standard message which clearly show that they don’t care about my personal and specific use of their product and don’t know me well enough.
The golden Sales rule for me can be summed up as: to be a good salesperson, don’t sell a product. Start building a relationship.
Building a relationship: the power of the “personal touch”
The client will want to use the product because it is great, but not only because it is great. He will want to use it because he trusts the company and knows that if he has any issues he can easily contact someone for help or simply because he trusts that the salesperson who he reached to will be there if needed.
Do your homework. Get to know your client is; this client in particular and not all the clients you have. Segment them, get to know how they’re using your product, how you’re bringing them specific value, and ensure you have a very previse message.
When I go to a B2B Sales meeting, I know exactly who I am meeting up with. Nowadays, it is not “stalking” anymore to go check out a Linkedin profile — use the tools, any tool that can bring you info about who your client is, will therefore inform you on how to talk to him and what will matter the most to him.
I even end up finding some similarities between me and my clients sometimes that I can bring up in our conversation later on, and that will contribute to building the seller-client relationship (we’ve been to the same uni, done the same internship programme, etc.)
Be smart: always bet on long-term relationships rather than short sales cycles that end up in fast client churn. Selling is not a job — it is about getting to know someone.