handshakeOne of the toughest challenges for so many professionals setting up their own business is surely the need to become effective in selling.

I’m no exception. I don’t like being “sold to” and I did not like the idea of being seen as a salesman.

Before I go any further, I acknowledge unreservedly that there are plenty of people in sales who are responsible and ethical, and also very successful at what they do.

At the same time, I have to acknowledge that my learning to sell was hampered by my sharing in some common prejudices about selling and sales people.

Prejudices that are frequently reinforced by shock-horror media stories about people being tricked by sales people.

And we all know, don’t we, about those surveys about respect for different professions or avocations that show sales people down at the tail end?

For instance, the 2012 edition of the annual Reader’s Digest New Zealand Most Trusted Professions annual survey shows the last seven of the top 40 as, in order of declining trust: journalists, real estate agents, insurance salespeople, sex workers, car salespeople, door-to-door salespeople, telemarketers

Wouldn’t most of us rather be up with the nurses, doctors, teachers and other more respected categories?

Even bankers are up at 26 in that survey!

But without selling there is no business.

So, unless we have the working capital to engage sales people, we have to learn. And even then, it is surely in the nature of small business that as business owners, for the really strategic, high-profit deals we will have to be the ones who carry the day, or otherwise lose the sale.

Like so many professionals who have started their own businesses, typically small businesses at the outset, I had to learn to a system of selling.

And one of the hardest parts of that learning was about how to close a sale.

Because, as I was quickly to learn, and often the hard way, without closing there is no sale, there is no deal.

Problem was, I found a lot of the traditional ways of closing the deal were just too tricky for me to use with a good conscience – or maybe was it at least partly because I’m not a capable enough actor?

I did try. But it wasn’t me and sometimes I could see that people I was trying to sell to were actually embarrassed that I was making such a goose of myself!

So I was highly motivated to come up with some basic strategies that worked for me.

Four of those strategies are:

  • Enjoy the game
  • Link your solution to the prospect’s pain
  • Ask for the sale
  • Find out what it takes to get to 10

I go into these in some detail in my recent post over on the MYOB blog, Selling 101: Closing the Deal

What strategies do you find work best for you in terms of closing the deal?

 Image credit: Handshake, by buddawiggi, via Flickr, CC BY 2.0

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