July 06, 2011 // Franchising.com // OWINGS MILLS, Md. – Success for many small businesses and entrepreneurs often hangs on their ability to sell products and services to their customer base. However, many business owners have no previous sales experience and, for them, the process of engaging a customer in a sale can be an extremely daunting prospect that can lead to a great deal of stress and tension.
So what steps can business owners take to reduce the sales "fear factor"? Dave Mattson, CEO of Sandler Training, a leading global sales and management training company, offers this advice: "Fear comes from the unknown and it is a psychological response to a perceived threat. You can chip away at this fear by creating a sales process and following some simple steps that give you confidence in your own skills. "
Mattson proposes five steps that business owners can take to minimize their sales fear:
Recognize that selling is a science. Contrary to what you may have heard, selling is more of a science than it is an art form. It is possible to use mathematical calculations, numerals and formulas to approach the sales process in a measured and practical manner. The most experienced sales individuals in successful companies will tell you that sales is a numbers game; it is based on tracking every single step of the sales process and monitoring the results along the way in order to develop a formula for success. What all this means is that it is possible to train and coach inexperienced business owners to develop an ideal sales process that really works for them.
Deactivate the unconscious scripts. When it comes to selling many of the actions and behaviors that you were taught when you were younger become counterintuitive, and in order to be successful in a sales environment, you need to reprogram your perceptions of what is, and is not acceptable. Messages like, "don't talk to strangers," and "never talk about money," may linger in the back of your unconscious mind and you will be required to make a deliberate effort to accept that your behaviors need to change in order to be successful in a sales environment. As a business owner you now have to be prepared to talk to every stranger you can find and discuss difficult subjects, such as, money openly and honestly.
Don't practice on prospects. Before every sales call write down five pieces of information that you need to get from the conversation and create a set of goals that you can use to assess your performance once the call is complete. When faced with the daunting prospect of meeting a new customer you may be tempted to create an extensive presentation that you can use as a prop and support throughout the meeting. Don't fall into this trap. Open the meeting by inquiring about the issues that your customers face and use this information to drive the rest of the meeting. Showing an interest in your prospect will put them at ease and they will be much more likely to buy from someone that they feel comfortable with. If you approach the sale in a relaxed, informal manner, you will find that people are more receptive to your sales messages and will be more likely to share information with you. Above all, always have confidence in your product knowledge and expertise. You may not be a natural seller but you do know what you're talking about.
Don't get emotionally sucked in. Without an established sales process it is easy to get caught up in your emotions during a sales call, and this only serves to generate further fear and nervousness. Rehearse and refine your sales messages again and again, preferably with someone you know and trust who can give you constructive feedback. The more familiar you are with your pitch and the information that you need to share with your prospects, the more confident you will feel. Always visualize a positive outcome before every sales meeting; your thoughts can strongly influence the outcome and if you are able to imagine a situation in an optimistic manner, then the result will be much more likely to be positive.
Catch a psychological wind. Once you have a set of sales processes and practices in place you will find that you will start to develop your behaviors and establish routines and milestones. Soon the selling fears that initially paralyzed you will diminish and the selling momentum will start to take shape.
David Mattson, CEO of Sandler Training, has a successful track record spanning 20 years as a trainer and business consultant in management, sales, interpersonal communication, corporate team building and strategic planning throughout the U.S. and Europe.
Sandler Training is the leading provider of sales and management training with more than 200 licensed trainers throughout the U.S. and internationally. The company provides a full range of sales and management training programs, with powerful coordination and customization benefits throughout its extensive franchise network. Among its many achievements, Sandler has been awarded the #1 ranking for training programs in Entrepreneur Magazine's "Franchise 500" nine times since 1994, the most recent being for 2010. The company website is located at www.sandler.com.