The first step in learning to sell is believing you can!

  • 2001-03-15
  • By Paul E. Adams
"The success of any salesperson is not what the customer believes, but what the salesperson believes." - Dr. Paul E. Adams.

When I went into business, I dreaded selling. It made me feel uncomfortable as I felt I was intruding, plus I hated to ask anything of others- I disliked feeling obligated. Boy, did I have a lot to learn. And I did so - but developing sales skills was difficult for me. Yet, after many rejections and rebuffs, my hide thickened and I learned the art of asking for the order.

Do you have to sell? Yes, if you are going to have a successful business, you will find out that selling is an important part of your business activity. If you are already in business, you know it. If you are just starting out, much of your success will depend on your sales skills.

But don't worry, in reality, salesmanship is persuading others to your viewpoint. Nothing more. There is no mystery to it, only hard work and a lot of rejection. Just think of selling as successfully asking someone to do something. It can be learned, as it is a skill that comes from practice and positive thinking. If your product or service is competitive, and you believe in its value, you can sell it.

Before you get too fearful, are you aware that stage fright is normal? The business world is full of successful salespersons that overcame their fear of selling. If you are uncomfortable about phoning or seeing a stranger to ask for business, you are not unusual, nearly every well-known actor has experienced the same discomfort from stage fright. People, who must learn public speaking, know all about sweaty palms and nervous stomachs. It is only through repeated attempts at selling, acting, and speaking that the discomforts partially vanish, and they will.

If you are going into business you will automatically become a sales pro. Because as an entrepreneur, you begin your sales career the moment you give birth to the idea of your company. You will need to sell your idea to your spouse, your sources of money, your suppliers, your landlord and your new employees. You may not call it selling, but that is what it is. You have a message and you want others to buy it. In your enthusiasm, you do not question your sales ability, you just do it. The moment the first person signs on to your plans is the moment you have made a sale. You have closed a deal without being a phony, without imposing on others and without lying. You made a sale, because your message made sense and you believed in it. Selling can be fun if you make it so. After all, it is your business.

Some argue that selling skills are mostly a product of personality. But I don't believe it. Yes, there is validity to the argument that outgoing people have an easier time of it than shy ones, but whether you are outgoing or quiet, if you have the right message and believe in it, you will persuade others.

In my opinion, salesmanship is a learned skill, combined with a logical and honest presentation about a product or service that a potential customer needs or wants. It is nothing more. It is not showmanship or magic. It is the presentation of information in a persuasive manner.

Here are 10 rules to a sale!

1. Fear of selling is based on myth and misunderstanding.

2. Nothing happens until someone sells something.

3. Salesmanship is not personality, it is a learned skill.

4. Rejection is not failure, only no to your offer.

5. Ask for customers, orders and money, as few will volunteer.

6. A sale requires: attention, interest, desire and action.

7. If you want my interest, appeal to my interest, not yours.

8. Without desire there is no sale.

9. Action means asking.

10. Your biggest fear should be failure, not asking for business.

Remember, success starts with the same letter of the alphabet as selling!