I've grown professionally through the sales industry. After jumping around to various ad companies post-college, my longest career stint was with Yellow Pages, where I honed my sales and management skills for over 15 years.
My career hasn't exclusively been focused in sales, but over time I came to realize that, while I wasn't necessarily born to work in sales (even with the last name Sellers playing in my favor), I was good at it and thoroughly enjoyed the thrill of landing the sale.
This epiphany eventually led me to seek out opportunities that allowed me to pursue this passion while also helping other small businesses in the process. All signs pointed to Money Mailer – a direct mail franchise concept that would not only allow me to leverage my sales skills, but also be an asset to other community members and businesses in the area.
After purchasing my franchise territory, I immediately kicked off this new venture with sales tactics that were not only effective, but drove meaningful relationships. By making a point to meet other local business owners in person and providing them with options that were designed to help them (rather than myself), I achieved record-breaking numbers and was honored as Rookie of the Year at the Money Mailer convention in November of 2017 – a testament to my belief on how sales should be conducted in this day and age.
Sales often gets a bad rap due to years of cheesy stereotypes and overly-aggressive sales tactics. Many people immediately envision the pushy car salesman when they think of sales, but for most salespeople, that image is simply not true. Nearly every career involves some form of sales – teachers are selling students on ideas and thought processes; journalists are selling readers on what the most important news of the day is; managers are selling employees on the core values of the business. Sales comes in many shapes and forms, and with the right mindset and knowledge on what tactics work and why, almost anyone can become an effective salesperson.
Decades of experience in this field has taught me the following on how to master the art of sales:
Constantly open new doors. Every single day, I reach out to nearly 40 new people in some way, shape or form (whether it's in-person, on the phone or online). It's easy get too comfortable in your outreach to existing customers or business partners, focusing only on keeping what you already have rather than expanding. This outreach can be as simple as a hello – but the more people I contact, the more opportunities I give myself to create new relationships.
Focus on in-person interaction over technological communication. In today's digital world, its more common to receive an email blast or an automated phone call rather than having a real conversation with a real person. Instead of relying on technology, get out of the office and visit potential buyers or clients in person, an "old-school" but successful approach to landing sales.
Build friendships first. Instead of walking through the door of a business and immediately making your sales pitch, try something less invasive and simply introduce yourself as another local business in town looking to make connections. I've found that when you discover a shared interest, it's much easier to create a business relationship out of the initial friendship.
Follow up, follow up, follow up. If you're told that someone is too busy and that you should come back later or call them in two weeks, follow through! Following up demonstrates commitment and dedication, and can be the finishing touch on closing the sale.
No matter what industry or career path you're on, or if you decide to follow the itch for entrepreneurship, having basic sales skills in your back pocket will go a long way.
About the author: Bill Sellers is the owner of Money Mailer of Northshore in Mandeville, Louisiana. With nearly two decades of experience working with small businesses, Sellers was recently dubbed Rookie of the Year at Money Mailer's annual convention for achieving record-breaking growth numbers in a new territory. For more information on Money Mailer, please visit http://www.moneymailer.com.