This Expert’s Corner article is brought to you by CommissionCrowd - The Ultimate B2B Commission-Only Sales Platform
In this article we share the lessons that 27 top sales experts learned from making their very first sale.
While your first sale will most likely be both an exciting and daunting experience, one thing is guaranteed… you will learn important lessons that will go on to shape and define the rest of your sales career.
So whether you’re already experienced in sales or considering a career in sales, the lessons and tips below will resonate with you.
1. Dummy Up!
David Davies - Managing Director, Sandler Training
I learned the lessons from making my first big sale many years later. It was with one of the largest companies in the world.
It was completely by accident. It should never have been me that made the sale.
The ‘senior’ Sales person I was employed to ‘smile and dial’ on behalf of, was out on leave. One of the ‘largest companies in the world’ called in to the office. I answered. They requested somebody to come in, that day, to quote for some kit they needed.
Having learnt at an early age to ‘do as I was told’ I agreed to take the meeting and would come down that afternoon.
I rushed home, threw on an ill-fitting suit and strode, uncomfortably, unconfidently, for 5 miles to the prospects office. Sitting nervously in reception I awaited a ‘giant of industry’ to greet me with a bone-crushing handshake and the sort of X-ray vision that could see right through my thin veneer of ‘self-confidence’.
When this ‘giant of industry’ came to reception to greet me, I admit I was surprised, perhaps stunned.
A perfectly normal (looking) human being came over, said, “Hello, you must be Dave. Thanks for coming in to see us at such short notice”.
He proceeded to take me on a tour of one of the world’s largest manufacturing facilities, diligently showing me every piece of technology, carefully ensuring that I noted down everything I saw.
I asked lots of questions. I felt ‘dumb as a spud’ not knowing what the difference between a PC and a Server was, not knowing the difference between a Switch and a Router, not knowing the difference between ‘my ass and my elbow’.
But the prospect seemed to be un-phased by my outstanding impression of ‘Dopey’ from Disney’s Snow White.
The outcome of that first meeting was a 7-figure contract and throughout my career I enjoyed partnering with that client on a lot of 7 figure contracts.
In Sandler we describe this kind of ‘Beginners Luck’ as being in the ‘Dummy Curve.’ The ‘Dummy Curve’ pictures the accidental ease by which a new salesperson, with little or no knowledge, seemingly makes sales with ease.
As they ‘mature’ into their new role they get ‘on-boarded’ with lots of new technical and product knowledge.
Hit with the usual Features and Benefits – Fire-hose they sit impatiently in their chairs, desperate to find anyone they can ‘spew’ this newfound knowledge all over.
What I learnt from my first sale is to shut up, except when asking questions, questions of curiosity that expanded my knowledge of the only thing I ever need to know more about…my prospects.
One of my favourite Sandler rules is: “The Professional does what he did as a Dummy – on purpose!” Dummy up people.
2. Don’t Focus On Closing The Sale
** Ryan Mattock
(Co-Founder at CommissionCrowd) CommissionCrowd**
I remember my first sale vividly. I was around 23 years old, had never truly figured out what to do with my life and decided to try my hand at car sales. While it seemed like a great sales opportunity, I wasn’t supremely confident and was definitely put off by the overly cocky co-workers I found myself working alongside.
What I did have on my side was a genuine care for the customer and was sure that if I focused on their needs, I would do pretty well.
Car sales is a cut-throat world. You stand around in the showroom all day, staring out of the window waiting for a prospect to show up. There’s not only a huge amount of pressure put on you by your co-workers (if you nab the prospect and don’t close them there’s usually trouble), but also by the manager. It seemed that everyone’s jobs are constantly hanging on the line and the general consensus was that if you let someone walk out of the showroom without making a purchase, your days were limited.
Anyway, the day eventually came… a prospect drove into the lot and I rushed out the door before any of my co-workers and started speaking with them. They were a young, friendly couple with two small children and were looking for a cheap yet safe and reliable people carrier. I listened to their needs and took them to the car I thought would be a perfect fit. We went out for a test-drive, they loved the car and we walked back into the showroom to discuss details. They gave me their budget and I went to my manager to see if it was doable.
And I froze… While everything had being going perfectly up until this point, I had never actually closed a sale before and suddenly this part of the sales process terrified me. My head was full of ‘what-ifs’…
What if they walked out?
What if they said no?
What if I lose the sale?
I was suddenly super conscious that all eyes were on me making my first sale and I panicked. I had never closed a deal before and didn’t know how to ask for the business. I turned to my manager and asked him if he would close the sale for me. I won’t repeat what he actually said but it was along the lines of “you get your butt out there and close them or i’ll close you”… ouch!
So that was it I was on my own. The walk back to the table seemed to take forever. I took a deep breath, sat down and began the negotiation process and quickly learned that honesty and humbleness pays off. I explained that we couldn’t quite match the price they were looking for but we would absolutely make sure they were looked after.
I realised that I didn’t have to use any fancy sales techniques or tricks in order to close the sale. We had built rapport and trust, I hadn’t rushed the sale and made sure they felt cared for. I held my had out and we shook… the deal was done.
So, the biggest lesson I learned that day is that sales isn’t about fancy sales tricks or techniques. Put the close out of your head and move through the motions. At the end of the day while it was worth a couple of hundred pounds in commission to me and a tick on the whiteboard, buying a car is usually the most expensive purchase a person will make aside from their home. If you truly care about your customers and you can provide a solution that works for them then the rest takes care of itself. Honesty and rapport is all you need.
3. Always Ask For The Business
Brian Marsh, Sales Director - Futurepump
We all learn from our mistakes and I was lucky enough to make a huge mistake on my first sale that has stayed with me for the last 40 years.
I’d finished all the training and I’d been out prospecting with my sales manager and got to the stage of presenting my proposal to the MD of a company in Slough, I was flying solo and as nervous as a teenager on a first date.
It went well, at first. The presentation was better than I expected, well received and he even seemed to be happy about the price, I asked him if he had any questions, there were a couple, but quite easy to deal with, then came the HUGE mistake.
I said “I’ll leave the proposal for you to go over then and can I call you next week?” Of course, he said yes, and we parted company, I was pretty happy, and relieved to be out of there.
As instructed I called my sales manager and reported my amazing performance, he asked “What close did you use?” I think the long silence at my end answered his question far better than anything I could have said, I had completely forgotten to close.
Never mind, I said, I’ll be calling him next week, I’ll close it then. And here came the best lesson I ever learned in my early days in sales, my manager told me to find an excuse to go back in and then ask for the order.
Wow, I thought I had been nervous first time, can you imagine how I felt now?
So after a few minutes contemplating a change of career I decided I should give it a try, after all my sales manager was a lot more experienced than I was so he was probably right, maybe… I went back.
I told the MD’s secretary that I had forgotten something important and I needed to see him again, just for a couple of minutes, she called him, and he agreed.
So, I found myself back in front of the man that I had just said goodbye to, the conversation went something like this; “I’m sorry to bother you again but I’m new in this job and I forgot to ask you if you were going to buy our product” He actually smiled, picked up the proposal again, and thought carefully about his answer while I sat shaking.
Eventually he looked at me and said “Yes, I think we’ll go ahead with you, when can you deliver” Wow, what do I do now, I wasn’t expected that answer.
Somehow I managed to fumble through getting him to sign the order form and we shook hands before I beat a hasty retreat, I couldn’t wait to get back to the phone box – this time I was really pleased with myself, I’d completed my first sale.
4. Make Sure You Believe In Yourself
Daniel Fantasia - CEO, Treeline Inc
I would say that in my life, before I was technically titled a “sales professional,” I was always selling.
I have always found myself wanting to help others, innovate and optimize, but I never realized I was selling.
There are two pillars to the foundation of my sales career and they are my own belief in myself and doing the right thing every day.
I bring this up because they were important in my first official sale, and continue to be relevant twenty years later. In 1996, I closed my first “real” professional sale with a prominent museum in Boston.
I was recently promoted into a new position, and as much as I would love to say that this deal was a result of cold calling and pounding the phone book (no we didn’t have online tools back then), it was not.
I just happened to answer the phone. With no sales training, I was thrown into the fire and it was go-time.
From my personal life experiences, I knew that the first thing I had to do was build rapport and present myself as an articulate professional. Instead of just going into a pitch and hard selling, I listened to learn why the museum was calling my company.
Then I started to ask questions. I was nervous and afraid of embarrassing myself, but I needed to understand what this potential client needed.
After asking the questions and listening to their needs and challenges, I introduced our services and recommended a solution for their needs.
I must have done something right because the museum liked what I said and invited me to their office. I met with my potential buyer in-person and followed the same protocol.
I was confident in my company’s ability to do this project. I was young, but professional and I believed in myself and spoke with conviction. I was 100% certain the museum would be impressed with our solution and that let them know that I would not disappoint them.
With that, I genuinely asked for their business and they gave it to me. My first close and big-name client. I was in my early 20’s when I closed the sale, and what I recommend to an aspiring sales professional is make sure you believe in yourself.
You are going to make lots of mistakes and you will take many risks, but remember that as long as you believe in yourself and focus on doing right thing, you will find success.
Common sense and human decency will bring you very far in life. From there, you will have the foundation to be a top sales professional.
5. Put Your Customer First And Do What’s Best For Them
Daniel Disney - Founder, The Daily Sales
My very first sale was a kitchen to a young couple when I was 16 years old. I had just joined the retail sales team at a National DIY store and following a 2 week training course got my first customer.
I can remember sitting down with them and listening to what it was they wanted, why they wanted it and what was really important to them.
It was scary as a lot of this was still new to me, both selling in general but also the systems and processes that I was using. I put the customer first and made sure I fully immersed myself in doing the best for them.
My advice would be to make sure you have the right support around you but to also feel confident in just getting stuck in. You will make mistakes, it won’t always go perfectly, but it’s only through experience that you truly learn.
6. Just Ask For The Business
Bruce King - Business Growth Strategist, Bruce King
My first experience of sales was when I was fifteen years old and got a Saturday job in a men’s tailors. They sold made to measure suits, ready made suits, jackets and coats, shirts and ties.
I was hired as an assistant to make tea and tidy up, and not to sell, but when it got busy, I stepped into the sales role.
The manager and three other employees all thought of themselves as tailors. They didn’t sell – they took orders when a customer decided they wanted to buy something.
I knew nothing about tailoring, nor sales, but when I helped somebody try on any item of clothing, I said to them “You look really good in that Sir.
Would you like to buy it?” Within three weeks I was promoted to sales and was selling more than anyone else and earning more commission than they.
What I learned was ‘JUST ASK FOR THE BUSINESS!” Of course there are many closing techniques, and I teach many, but just asking for the business works just fine.
7. Just Keep Showing Up And Try
Colleen Stanley - President, Sales Leadership Inc
I started in sales with a small company, that is now the largest in the world in their industry, Varsity Spirit Corporation.
Their story is the classic David and Goliath story.
When I joined Varsity, our biggest competitor was much more established, better branded and had more feet on the street. Thanks goodness for ignorance and ambition.
I was too new in sales to know that I should be intimidated. However, I did know is that I didn’t have any sales experience.
However, each day I applied my Iowa work ethic and told myself I could outwork anyone… just keep showing up. And show up I did, driving all over the states of Nebraska and Iowa meeting with any prospect that would listen.
Four years later, I was the Goliath in my territory, not my complacent competitors. Today, being older and wiser, I realize that certain principles for success never change.
Successful people show up and try, before they’re any good! And often, if you keep showing up, working hard, you become masterful.
You become the Goliath in your industry. Show up and try because often you’ll discover a talent you didn’t even know you possessed.
8. Simply Confirm The Decisions Your Prospects Have Already Made
Jessica Magoch (Global Director), Agent Recruitment and Success at (CommissionCrowd)
I first started as a sales assistant taking inbound calls.
One woman had called the office three times asking to get an appointment with an agent and all three times I sent the lead to the same agent, who was also a manager.
When she called a fourth time, my boss told me to take the appointment and help her out. It would be my first sales presentation and I would meet her in two hours.
I learned what little I needed to help her make a decision and went to meet her at a bar in NYC where her boyfriend was playing for Happy Hour.
I gave my whole presentation and she half listened as her boyfriend played. When it came time to sign the agreement she just signed without asking questions.
Lessons learned: Sales is ALL about follow up. And, for inbound leads, customers are already sold. You just need to confirm the decision they already made.
If they choose not to buy, you “unsold” them. Finally, you actually need to convey very little information for someone to make a decision. Too much information is overwhelming and means your prospect will have to “think about it.”
9. Find Out What People Value
Deb Calvert, President - People First
I made my very first sale when I was five years old. I’ve been selling ever since.
That summer, we had a bounty of garden vegetables. I wanted my own kid-size desk for when I started school in September. One Saturday in August, my dad filled up my little red wagon with cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers.
He said I could sell them in the neighbourhood for five cents each and save the money to buy a desk. I came back with a full wagon just minutes later and said “Nobody wants any vegetables.”
My mom, formerly a recruiter for the U.S. Women’s Marines Corps, stepped in to offer a little sales coaching. She taught me to find out why people needed vegetables before asking them to buy.
She said that she never asked people to join the Marines. She asked them what they wanted to achieve in their lives and then helped them see how being a Marine would help them achieve it.
(I didn’t know it then, but that was a great example of a Value Question… something I’d later write about in my bestseller DISCOVER Questions® Get You Connected.) So I went back out.
This time, instead of saying “Do you want to buy some vegetables so I can get a new desk?” I asked “What are you having for dinner tonight?” My new question made Mrs. Hegwer smile.
She told me she was making spaghetti, so I followed up by asking “Do you like to have salad to go with your spaghetti?” Within seconds, I’d made my first sale – 1 cucumber and 2 tomatoes.
Fifteen cents. Next stop was Mrs. Collins. She was having leftovers for dinner because, she said, it was too hot to cook. So I asked “You can have salad, too, because you don’t have to cook it!” Boom.
Sale #2. Another forty cents. Mrs. Croll, Mrs. Bruno, and Mrs. Terry all made purchases, too. It wasn’t long before I was sold out.
I’ve heard this story retold many times over the past 40 years, and it continues to validate the approach to selling I’ve used ever since. Selling is about anticipating and meeting people’s needs.
No one cared that I wanted a desk. No one was sitting around waiting for me to offer them freshly picked vegetables. But everyone had a dinner plan coming together, and my ability to help them improve their dinner is what generated sales.
I earned over $17 that August, enough to get my own desk. I’ve been finding out what people value ever since then, selling solutions that meet their priority needs, and collaborating with my buyers to create value.
These behaviors are more important than ever in selling. In a recent study, 530 B2B buyers described the behaviors they’d like to see more frequently in sellers.
We wrote about these behaviors in Stop Selling & Start
Leading, and I know my vegetable buyers would appreciate the shift from selling to leading. Your buyers will, too!
10. Trust In Yourself And The Products/Services You Sell
Janice Mars - Principal & Founder, SalesLatitude
As an individual who has enjoyed continued success (and some failures) in sales and sales leadership over the last few decades, I now have a smile on my face remembering my very first sale.
I mean, how could anyone possibly forget their first deal?
Like a first love, mine left an indelible mark on me. Interestingly enough, I cannot remember much about the sales process. I mean, it was a long time ago. However, I do remember having to go through the contract with my prospect and legal - for the first time. I had never done that before and was surprised about how detailed it was.
We discussed things that I had never even thought of discussing during a sales cycle – terms like limits of liability, termination, etc. But, I managed through the process with my prospect to dot the I’s and cross the T’s, working diligently with the key executive to ensure we could meet the dates he had promised his management team.
All was set to receive the contract and get the project started. But then, my phone rang. It was the key executive on the line. He immediately started apologizing (not a good sign) and told me that the competition came in at the last minute and dropped their price by 50 percent.
Of course, his inevitable question was focused on what I could do for him and his company in terms of lowering my price. That’s when the heart palpitations began. I took a deep breath. Once my heart started to beat more regularly, I calmly started asking him questions to confirm the value he had already agreed to.
Whereas both vendors had products and services that could help him attain his business outcome, I focused on our differentiators. We had already proven, and the executive had agreed, that going with our product and services would offer a less risky implementation, which would ultimately ensure getting to their desired business value and return on investment faster. He agreed.
Then he laughed and said the signed contract was already in my inbox! A wave of relief washed over me. But at the same time, I was pretty proud of myself.
That’s because, as a new sales person, I realized that holding firm and selling value – and not cutting price –was the right thing to do.
Others may have panicked and jumped the gun and cut price in the same situation. But I did not, and the experience was a positive one and led to a long and fruitful relationship with this customer, in addition to a long a fruitful career in sales.
But I shudder to think what would happened if I did cut my price. Would this executive respect me or my company after that?
Probably not. So, throughout my sales and sales management career, my first sale has always stuck with me at the core. For some, the first sale was yesterday and for others, like me, the first sale was awhile ago. But now the ball is in your court: What did you learn from your first sale?
11. Just Be Yourself
Jack Tuckwell - CRM Specialist, Force Manager
The most important thing I learned from my first sale was honestly, to just be myself.
If you start to second guess everything you do and over analyze rather than doing what comes naturally, you will not come across genuine and you won’t be, genuine.
For example, I’m hugely passionate about health and fitness. My first client was a medical sales director who also happened to be a part-time cross-fit trainer.
We barely spoke about the company I work for. The meeting we had organized which normally lasts 30 minutes took over an hour, as we connected on a more personal level.
I had already built a level of trust when I ‘handled his objections’. You have to believe in yourself, but most importantly be yourself.
12. Always Be Communicating
Steve Hall (Executive Sales Coach) Linkedin
It took me almost two years to make my first big sale. The first time I called the MD he told me there was no way they could ever buy our ERP system.
I talked about their business issues rather than try to push him. By the third call, six months later (I called every 3 months or so) we knew more about each other’s business and had started to build a relationship.
After a year we would go for a drink whenever I was in Melbourne (I’m in Sydney). After 18 months their business grew, their old distribution system couldn’t cope and they started looking for a new ERP.
Because I’d been building rapport and learning about their business they came to us first and made us one of three possibilities.
After two years I sold my first six figure deal – well over $600,000 in 1996 dollars. The next two big deals – more than $2 million in total, were also to people who initially told me “no”.
The lessons: a) things change; b) if someone isn’t ready to buy, but is a big target customer, keep talking and building a relationship; c) ABC (always be closing) doesn’t work in complex B2B sales – but ABC (always be communicating) does.
13. Learn Your Paperwork
Tom Hopkins - Speaker, Sales Trainer, Author, Tom Hopkins
With my first sale in real estate, I was fortunate that the buyers had invested in many other properties and knew how to help me fill out the purchase agreement.
I was so embarrassed and committed to never let that happen again.
I invested two full days getting familiar with the paperwork, getting my questions answered, and becoming an expert on the paperwork required to close real estate transactions.
It’s important to know how to follow on from the sale and understand the process of signing and sealing the deal on paper.
14. Use The Resources Available To You
Steven Benson - CEO, Badger Maps
My first sale wasn’t glorious. I barely got the deal over the line by the end of the quarter. I was at IBM selling enterprise deals when I landed my first sale.
I had forecasted a pretty sizable deal to upper management, and it probably meant my head would roll if the deal didn’t come in at the end of the quarter.
So it wasn’t high fives and glory, it was a huge relief when it finally closed. A big lesson I learned from that deal is that the more people you have involved in a complex deal, the easier it is for one of them to delay and mess up the sale.
In other words, the more cooks there are in a kitchen, the more likely it is that things will slide sideways. Another lesson to remember, no matter how confident your champion inside a company seems about the deal, they can always be overridden.
They may project the authority needed to handle the deal, but their boss can always step-in with concerns or problems and derail negotiations.
Lastly, I learned that your sales manager can be a huge asset in a sale. I had a great manager at the time and he was able to step in at a critical point, when the deal was stuck late in the sales cycle.
We were able to leverage him above the champion that I had been working with to reach the right decision maker. Involving my manager helped me get the ball rolling again and bring the deal over the line by the end of the quarter.
15. Start Building Your Network Even If It’s Close To Home
Maxwell Ivey - Founder, The Blind Blogger
As owner of The Midway marketplace, my first sale was of a kiddie ride called a pig train. It sold for $3,000, and my commission was $300. I was thrilled to get that money order in the mail. I got the listing through a friend of my father. Even though my father had died a few years before, the owner agreed to give me a chance.
He did it even though selling through my site would mean paying a commission on the sale. There were and are still free sites for selling amusement equipment. SO, don’t be afraid to reach out to friends and family when recruiting those first clients. I don’t mean expecting them to invest in your business or buy your products and services. I mean let them know what you are doing and why and invite them to help spread the word about your business.
It also shows the value of building relationships. They not only help you grow your brand, but they can even help your kids or other friends to grow their businesses.
Its also a reminder that being friendly and ethical in business is an investment in the future. I should also mention that it took over six months of full time work to make that first sale. It can often take time to start building that network and making more and more sales.
16. Sell To Yourself First
Joe Templin - Managing Director, Unique Minds
The very first sale I made in insurance was to myself. I was the most pain in the butt client because I had a list of dozens of “why’s” that I then analyzed and answered. So the next 200+ prospects I talked to that were similar to myself became high probability sales, because I had the most difficult client first and hence had the answers they would need.
17. Learn As You Go
Elinor Stutz - International Trainer and Educational Speaker, Smooth Sale
My first sales job went against everything I expected. Respect was non-existent as I was the lone saleswoman.
I never sold before and knew nothing about how to go about making a sale. The men figured I would soon quit, and so I was not permitted sales training.
In this case, the lack of training turned out to be my best gift in disguise! The job was to sell an unknown brand of copier door-to-door against the giant, Xerox.
Surprised the first time I was invited in for an appointment, and not knowing what to say, I asked, “You must be so busy what motivated you to invite me in today?” And the friendly conversation began.
We would learn about one another’s family, pets, hobbies, trips, and plans for the holidays. In the process, I made friends with all of my prospects and was asked in for additional meetings.
The CEO at the first office mandated that the person meeting with me purchase what I was selling. He said, “Otherwise, you are wasting valuable time and will be fired.”
The woman had to advise me to bring in a brochure. Several were brought to the office not knowing what they needed.
I suggested she knows best and to choose the one she believed would meet their needs. That fourth month on the job, I became the top sales representative of the office. From that point forward, my clientele transformed into my personal sales trainers, and a full pipeline was always mine.
Three Sales Lessons learned:
- 1. Sell your unique way
- 2. Be professionally personal
- 3. Focus on the client and not the sale.
Finally, embrace the tough times because these provide your best lessons.
After I terminated my career to become an entrepreneur, all of those tough experiences and hard knocks were put into the book, Nice Girls DO Get the Sale: Relationship Building that Gets Results.
It was written to mentor readers on bypassing similar hurdles (and have the last laugh). The book rose to International best-seller status.
18. Persistence Is Key To Making The Sale
Mark Hunter - Speaking Professional, Keynote Speaker, Sales Trainer, The Sales Hunter
Persistence! My first sale was as a kid selling Christmas cards door-to-door. I thought I had found the perfect way to become rich as a 10-year-old. My plan was simple. Knock on every door in the neighborhood and become rich in only a single Saturday.
I began Saturday morning with instructions to be home for lunch. Needless to say, I came home early for lunch, discouraged having not made one sale, but having heard every excuse imaginable. I was ready to move onto the next idea to get rich. My father would have nothing to do with my desire to quit, and he insisted I go back out, but this time in a different direction.
Despite my plea for mercy, I had no choice but to go back out, and yes, I went in a different direction. Soon I had my first sale and then the second. No, I didn’t become rich even by the low standards of a 10-year-old, but I did become richer having learned the lesson of not giving up. Ironic how I would learn the lesson of being persistent and not giving up by prospecting, which is the same challenge we all face in sales many years later.
19. It Is Possible!
John Kypriotakis - International Trainer and Educational Speaker, Sales And Management
It was not a “lesson” per se that was the main takeaway from my first sale, as it was a feeling. It was the realization that it was possible.
There was something of value that I had to say and a product I had to offer that would make a difference to the individual I was working with. And they agreed! What a feeling and a great start to many years of challenges and rewards in a career like no other.
20. Quality Of Sales Leads Matter
Reuben Ash - Business Growth coach and consultant, Reuben Ash
I started my sales career selling Financial Software and was fortunate to have worked for one of the UK’s best software resellers, Datel.
They had a culture of shared learning and investment in their staff to make sure that each sales person had the best possible chance of succeeding and hitting their target.
The first thing I learnt was an acronym which I have used ever since, namely BANT. This stands for the 4 criteria you need for a sales, Budget, Authority, Need and Timescale.
If you are not speaking to a decision maker who doesn’t have a budget to buy from you and doesn’t need your product or service by a certain deadline, you won’t get a sale!.
I was taught that it’s the quality of the leads that matter not the quality, and we used sophisticated sales automation CRM software to ensure the process worked.
As a result of this training and process, I have only ever worked for companies that embrace this way of working and been successful as a result.
21. Stop Talking And Ask Questions
**Alen Mayer - Acclaimed Sales Coach, AlenMayer.com
Stop talking and ask questions!
My first client told me that each and every salesperson he saw told him what he needs to do and why, but nobody asked him why he needs what he claimed he needed.
Also, no one asked him about the consequences of not acting today. My advise: stop telling and be a doctor and be a detective of sales BEFORE you start selling.
22. Always Ask For The Business
Jói Sigurdsson, CEO - Crank Wheel
My very first sale was at a trade show. One of my companies had a very early version of its software that we were demonstrating at the show, but that wasn’t quite ready for the Market yet.
To try to get customers to sign up early we had printed out paper order forms that we had on a clipboard, with a special deal for early adopters.
I was chatting with someone about the solution and they weren’t really showing a strong interest, but I decided to go for it and asked if they’d like to sign up - and they did!
My lesson for this is that you always need to ask for the business, even when you don’t think they will say yes.
23. Fail To Prepare And Prepare To Fail
Laura Robinson, Online Marketer at Worditude
Having a post-sales process is important, BEFORE you make that first sale.
I was so focused on getting my first Worditude Club, that I hadn’t figured out what the follow-up process should look like, and how I would get them started with the membership material.
Thankfully my first few sign-ups were people I have known in business for a few years, so they were flexible and able to help me shape the on-boarding experience for future new members.
But I do wish I’d been able to give them a better user experience from the get-go.
24. Ask Questions And Listen
Jeff Goldberg, Online Marketer - Jeff Goldberg & Associates
While I don’t remember my very first sale, I do remember my first sale in the sales training business.
The most important lesson I learned was to ask more questions. It’s not about the “pitch” or terrific closing skills…it’s about asking questions and listening actively to the answers.
At the end of the sales process I found out there was a decision-maker that I was unaware of. This could have lost the deal for me.
Fortunately, after meeting with this “unknown” decision maker he wanted to move forward, but I easily could have wasted my valuable time. Ask more and better questions in order to succeed in sales!
25. Keep Your Emotions In Check
Gene Caballero, Co-Founder - GreenPal
My first sale ever was to a Church. I was an inside sales rep for a Fortune 50 tech company. I remember feeling guilty knowing that I had a few points of margin that I did not discount.
The lesson I learned was that my career as a sales person would be short lived if I kept my emotions engaged during the sales process. I would need to treat every entity the same and not allow any guilt when it comes to putting food on my table. I ended up having a 10 year career at that company but remember that first sale as my toughest.
26. Learn How To Address Common Objections
Caryn Kopp, CEO - Kopp Consulting
When I was 11 I had my first cold calling job. My neighbor, who owned a franchise company told me I had a great phone voice and wondered if I’d like to try getting business appointments for them. She handed me two books.
One was the phone book and the other was a big objections manual. She said, “When you are on the phone with a prospect find the right tab in the objections book for the objection you are facing, turn to the page, scroll down with your finger and find the phrase you want to use for your response.” It took me three calls to realize that could never work.
I had to know the objections cold because otherwise I couldn’t be conversational in the performance moments. My key learning from this experience was to be successful in landing appointments, I had to have the right objection answers and know so well that I wouldn’t even sound rehearsed.
In my experience, and I’ve worked with thousands of businesses over the years, it is rare that business leaders spend time developing the right objection answers for their sales teams and making sure each of their sellers is proficient in using them.
Sellers also need to be able to pick out which objection they are facing so they use the right answer. Those who do, win. Those who don’t lay the groundwork for their competitors to win.
This Expert’s Corner article is brought to you by CommissionCrowd - The Ultimate B2B Commission-Only Sales Platform