We are sometimes asked what advice we would give to people who are hoping to start a career in sales. Being in a sales environment ourselves, we understand that certain things are crucial when it comes to hunting and closing deals… know your target market, know your ‘product’ inside and out and appreciate the value of establishing human relationships.

This is a topic regularly discussed on social media and we recently came across a post on LinkedIn from someone asking their network for advice on this. We have summarised some common answers into 7 key points:

1. Be a good listener

This goes without saying because how can you possibly fulfill the needs of the customer if you’re not really listening to what they want? Be led by your prospect and base your questions around what they tell you and demonstrate that you understand their needs. Now create your opportunity. It’s important to understand and appreciate when it’s the right time to keep quiet and don’t attempt to give them a solution from the first thing they tell you.

2. Try to stay positive and passionate

Would you buy from you? A good salesperson will work at having the right balance of patience, perseverance and knowing when to move on. Show that it’s not just a job to you and demonstrate real enthusiasm about what you are selling because, even if you don’t have all the knowledge, being passionate will engage your audience and make people want to talk to you.

3. Be consistent

This follows from the previous point. It could take some time to generate your first sale but remain consistent and the results will follow. Persistence and determination are words that get thrown around a lot in sales but that’s only because they’re both qualities that a successful sales person will possess. It’s a well-known principle that the more persistent you are, the more sales you will make. Don’t give up.

4. Don’t be just another ‘salesperson’

As mentioned above, sometimes you will find it easier to make an initial contact and form a relationship with someone if you speak to them as you would a friend – a regular person. Speaking as a ‘salesperson’ will automatically cause people to put their guard up because they know you are trying to get something out of them and no one wants to be sold to. Keep the conversation light, remember we are all people (just at varying levels of business seniority!) and it will also put less pressure on you.

5. Keep it professional

Although it’s important to be passionate and to try to form a relationship with a customer, it’s still essential to remain professional. When speaking with someone over the phone or face to face, you only get one chance to make that first impression and everything is important – from the way you speak to the clothes you are wearing. You’re not just representing you, you’re representing your company and your product and the aim is to convince this person to spend their money (or their companies money) on what you are representing.

6. Go well prepared

At some point, after you’ve convinced your customer to listen to what you have to say, you’re going to need to convince them that they actually need your product/service. Know your customer needs so you can explain how you can meet those needs – this also requires you to have all the knowledge about what you’re actually trying to sell. You need to have appealing solutions to their problems and you don’t want to get into the embarrassing situation of not being able to articulate what you have to offer!

7. Build a network

After a successful sale it’s essential to keep the customer as a contact to hopefully convert them from a new customer to a returning customer.  This will result in further sales and the expansion of your network which is vital. It’s also very helpful to accurately record the details and history of contact with all the people you speak with so that in the future you can see at a glance if they might be worth re approaching. A customer is more likely to engage with you when they realise you know them, appreciate their time, and have an understanding of what might be of interest to them.