Selling isn’t easy. It takes hard work to get good at it. But there’s no getting around it, says Brian Sullivan, Vice President of Global Accounts at Sandler Training.
He says if you’re just starting out, focus on learning why buyers buy, and what skills you need to acquire to become an effective salesperson.
That said, you’re probably not walking around with a pocket full of cash to spend on education. So it’s important to be creative and resourceful in order to learn what you need to know, without blowing your start-up budget.
To help you, here are some low-cost tips for getting educated:
Seek Out a Mentor
Many of the same skills that are key for being effective at selling translate across industries. So find a peer, friend, or family member who’s a successful salesperson – even if they’re not consultants or don’t work in your industry – and seek out their guidance and advice. Find out what they do that works, mistakes they’ve made in the past, and lessons learned over the course of their career.
Also, ask those you connect with for ideas – that is, “If you were me, what would you do?” – even if they’re not necessarily mentor candidates. People love to help and you can generate some really valuable insight by just asking this question.
Read Books About Sales
It sounds so simple and old-fashioned – and yet many consultants don’t take the time to do it. But there are plenty of good reads out there that can help you develop your sales skills. Looking for ideas? Here’s a link to Inc.’s Top 10 Sales Books of All Time.
Take Training Courses
There are a variety of online sales training courses you can sign up for, many of which are free. If you’re new to the art of selling, Brian suggests going to the websites of large companies in your field – whether it’s IT, engineering, accounting, or something else entirely – to see what’s available to you from a sales training standpoint.
You can also pick some companies who sell in your same arena — for instance, ABC Co. Then Google “ABC Co. & sales training” or “ABC Co. & sales process.”
Often you’ll find valuable information about processes that companies follow in your exact space. If you’re lucky, you’ll even be able to access PowerPoint presentations that teach the processes and offer helpful tips, as well.
Join Networking Groups
Whether in person through your local chamber of commerce or online via sites like LinkedIn, networking groups are a great way to meet new people and tap into advice and insight from them.
Don’t be afraid to approach your contacts and ask lots of questions. Remember, the process of developing your sales skills is an investment in your consulting business. The more you learn and are able to put into practice, the sooner you’ll become more comfortable with selling.