5 Tips to Sell Anything to Anyone
You don’t have a business until you’ve sold something. It can seem daunting going into your first pitch meetings, trying to land your first sale, or watching visitors bounce off of your ecommerce site, but the majority of the work happens in the strategy you build before the sale takes place. And the secret they don’t tell you? That you don’t have to have 20 years of experience selling to start moving your products, winning proposals, or convincing clients.
Take it from me, my name is Gemma Sole. At 21, at the start of the 2009 recession, I started a consulting firm leveraging student consultants in upstate New York, and in less than 12 months I won over 20 small business clients. In 2014, at 25 years old, I and my cofounder launched a company called Nineteenth Amendment with less than half a million in funding and within 6 months of launching, were able to close a deal with one of the largest retailers in the US.
So how do you do it?
Selling anything is all about knowing your customer and framing the solution. Below are 5 tips to sell anything from ideas to hardware:
1. Have a compelling product/idea
This may seem obvious but I can’t tell you the number of brands I see without a compelling differentiator. Your differentiator helps determine your story and, with the right point of view or framing, it can differentiate your product from the pack and right into the customers cart.
PRO TIP: Talk about your idea or product to anyone that will listen. This will help you understand what is compelling early on and help solidify your company or idea as the real deal. Because — hey — if no one’s heard about it, they aren’t going to buy it.
2. Know your customer type
You can generate really specific ideas about your customer and build in-depth profiles, but I find the most basic thing to know is how your customer is making decisions — are they a big idea person or a problem solver? The difference? A big idea person likes to be sold visions of the future. For a fashion item, they will look at the lifestyle you’re selling over functionality. For a pitch, they will be interested in the vision of your startup rather than the nitty gritty of how it works. I have found in my time selling that a prospect falls into one of those buckets, so it’s best to figure out quickly which bucket they fall into and make sure your story caters to that preference.
PRO TIP: Generally, the further away from the problem a customer is, the more of a “big idea” sale it will be but it always helps to get inside information. If you have a contact on the inside in a big sales meeting or investor pitch, ask for some context. If you want to understand your ecommerce customer, offer a discount for product reviews to better understand their purchasing reasons.
3. Know your pitch
Once you know your differentiator and the type of customer you are selling to (see items 1 and 2), knowing your pitch is just a matter of getting your compelling story down pat. This doesn’t necessarily happen overnight — with every product or idea there are iterations of your pitch you will want to try before recognizing which is the most successful and closes the sale fastest.
PRO TIP: Test your pitch early and often. Challenge yourself and your assumptions about what is most compelling by talking to your customers.
4. Nurture your customer
No matter how short or long your sales cycle, selling is still a personal experience so it makes sense to have conversations with your customer and to keep those conversations going. Engage with potential customers before your sales or pitch moment, and be sure to keep the relationship positive post-sale with useful information or product insights that keep you and your product at top of mind.
PRO TIP: A lot of “nurturing” can be automated online these days but genuine networking in-person always keeps relationships top of mind the longest. So find your customers and get out there!
5. Make the close obvious!
When you are ready to close the deal or make the sale, make it easy and obvious to the buyer. Give them options to work with you. And always ask. If you don’t ask for it, you may not get the sale.
PRO TIP: No matter what you are selling, determine your workflows in advance. If they don’t close right away, continue to nurture them (see 4 above) — ask to add them to your email list, investor updates, or if you can circle back with relevant information.
The other truth they don’t tell you? Everyone is in sales no matter what their role in an organization or what they are selling. It can be overwhelming, but if you keep these simple tips in mind you’ll be on your way to launching the next big initiative, selling as much product as possible, or closing that round.
Gemma Sole is co-founder of N.A.bld, (pronounced “enabled”) production software, a division of Nineteenth Amendment, to help you launch a brand in with little to no inventory by producing fashion quick turn in the US. She is a National Retail Federation 2017 Influencer and 30 Under 30 Founder in Retail and Ecommerce 2016. She has over ten years of experience selling ideas, fundraising, and running ecommerce and SaaS businesses. Connect with Gemma on Twitter @gsole.