The Small Business Sales Guide

Grow Your Business With These 57 Bite-Sized Sales Tips That Actually Work

David Sharp

by David Sharp

WHY YOU'RE READING THIS

As a small business owner, your ability to sell is paramount to your success.

Whether or not you have a dedicated sales team, you need to be prepared to pitch and close a sale at any moment. Then there are all the other critical moments, like winning over a prospective employee or getting a business loan. The power to connect with and persuade the people you encounter will make you a better business owner.

That’s why it’s so important to keep your sales skills sharp.

I've been fortunate enough to work in sales for over 20 years, learning both from mentors and plenty of trial and error. Here, I'll share with you the 57 best practices that have helped me the most throughout the course of my career—from getting organized, to preparing my pitch, all the way through to closing deals.

Enjoy.

Organize Your Approach

  1. Focus on consistent, repeatable activity to build a solid pipeline. Consider separating your “Farming” and “Hunting” time into time blocks on your calendar as a way of specializing your mindset for each type of activity. For example, designate 9am-noon for “Farming” — identify opportunities and nurture leads. Then designate 1pm-5p for “Hunting” — close deals.
  2. Always enter the next day or week prepared. Set time on your calendar to evaluate the next day, and time on your calendar at the end of every week to plan out the week ahead so you can hit the ground running Monday morning.
  3. Always know your priorities. Practice asking yourself, “If I only had 5 minutes to work today, who would I call?” It’s easy to get side-tracked when we have extra time, but nothing should take your focus away from your top priorities.
  4. Ask for the referral. Never underestimate the value of a customer referral. When your customer goes out of their way to put in a good word to another prospect, you’re way more likely to close that deal. First-hand testimony is incredibly powerful. A large percentage of our customers at PaySimple came in through referrals.
  5. Make sure every action is driving you toward your objective. How much of your day is spent achieving your goals? If your answer isn’t 100%, it’s time to evaluate productivity vs. activity

Prepare Your Pitch

  1. Do your research before making the call. Never call a prospect and ask, “What’s new?” You should already know! Do your research so you can start the conversation in a relevant way.
  2. Prequalify to protect time. Do research first to defend your own time and theirs. Is your product or service truly going to help them? Are they looking to buy now? Do they have a budget? If the answer is no to any of these questions, it may be best to avoid getting on a call in the first place.
  3. Refine your approach. Find a tactic or strategy that seems to work? Congratulations! How can you make it even better? Constantly refining your approach is the key to evolving and consistently hitting your sales goals.
  4. Go the extra mile. Just remember that someone out there is willing to work harder than you to close that deal. Prepare accordingly.
  5. Practice makes perfect. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. This can be as simple as asking someone to do a “sanity check” to see if your pitch makes sense. Or, simply double checking that you haven’t left out any relevant details. You might feel silly practicing in front of a colleague, but you won’t feel silly when game time comes.
  6. Prepare your tools. Create a list of all the tools you need to rock your presentation. Everything from the computer tabs you need to have open to the notepad to the pen. Think ahead to all possible outcomes: What if they want to buy on the spot? What if they want to take your product for a test drive

Ready Yourself for the Conversation

  1. Refresh your “why.” Why are you making this call? Why are you at this company? Why are you on this planet? Understand your “why” so it comes through genuinely in your pitch.
  2. Set your intention. Before you start the meeting, determine your ultimate goal and keep this top of mind throughout. You don’t want to get caught up in the moment and get off track.
  3. Scarcity drives poor results. Connect with positive energy and believe in the positive outcome. Negativity breeds negative outcomes. Go in thinking “I’m doing great this is going to go well,” not “I’m behind on quota.”
  4. Go with the positive “what ifs.” Instead of preparing for the worst, imagine this being the best sales call of your life. Your positivity and certainty will help you shine.
  5. Visualize the call. Everyone imagines the future, but did you know only 10% of people actually write down their goals? Try this exercise: as you prepare to start a sales presentation, imagine what you will hear, what you will see and what you will ask. Go into the details of how their answers will sound. How you will process the call flow? How you will end the call. Sure, it may not go exactly as you planned—but what if it does?
  6. Ask for overwhelming force. Remind yourself: you are powerful beyond measure! Why would you limit yourself? Tap into whatever force moves you.
  7. Deep breaths. Clear your mind, have gratitude in your heart (it comes through in your voice), now, make the call and go with the flow.

Game On!

  1. Never rush rapport. The foundation of any relationship—personal, sales, professional—starts with a strong rapport. Focus on building trust and matching your energy to theirs.
  2. Remember, it’s not about you, it’s about them. Let the prospect’s needs and desires drive the call, not the other way around.
  3. Energy is everything. It might be your 100th call of the day, but it may be their first and only with you. Make it count every time!
  4. Set contracts and never break them. Every promise you make is a contract and the way you treat the big ones should be the same as you treat the small ones. When you say something like, “Can I ask you a few questions?” follow up with, “I’ve asked you a few questions, mind if I keep going?” Or when you say, “Can I have 5 minutes of your time?” Later add, “It’s been 5 minutes, mind if I keep going?” Every promise kept is further proof of the type of person you are. This is how trust is earned.
  5. Go with the flow, but stay in control. It’s important to be flexible and allow the conversation to flow where it will, but always be sure to keep your intention top of mind so you can ultimately guide the meeting in the direction you want it to go.
  6. When in Rome, talk like the Romans do. Match your pacing and tone to them. If you’re speaking with a fast-paced New Yorker, you better be able to keep up. If you’re speaking with a slow talker, wait for them and be patient. Same goes for body language.

Discovery

  1. Go broad initially. Ask a wide range of open-ended questions so you can identify their focus. Once you’ve identified their main concerns, restate and present.
  2. Only interrupt to clarify or pay a compliment. When you’re in the discovery phase—or any phase for that matter—cutting someone off for any reason other than to give a compliment or clarify can disrupt flow.
  3. Ask follow-up questions. You need to get to the root of what pain your prospect is trying to solve. What aren’t they telling you? When they answer, ask the next question related to their answer to uncover even more.
  4. Deflect, pivot and ask another question. Never say “no,” or “we can’t do that.” If your solution is right for them, you’ll find a way. Instead of putting up a roadblock, tell them what you CAN do by asking more questions and determining how you can help.
  5. Master the art of note taking. The last thing you want is to look down at your pad of paper after a great call, only to realize you can’t discern a single thing you’ve written. Or worse, lose your focus mid-call because you can’t read your notes. What patterns of note taking will work for you? Take notes in a legible pattern to nail the conversation, hit all the points and set yourself up for success post-call.
  6. Focus on the pain and run with it. You need to help them realize where they are “sick” and how you can deliver the cure. If your product or service is the right fit, you’re doing them a favor by helping them buy it.
  7. Convert implied needs to explicit needs. Throughout the course of your conversation, the prospect might hint at their challenges or needs. Follow up with questions that highlight these needs and get them to affirm that your product can help.
  8. Delay the presentation to build anticipation. Rather than give your message away in the beginning, hint at what you’ll present later on. Saying things like, “We can absolutely fix that issue, but I am curious, tell me more about…” delays gratification and builds anticipation.
  9. Defer the pricing conversation until it’s appropriate. Money scares people away, and the last thing you want is for your prospect to be blinded by a number before you have time to demonstrate the value of your offering. Ask as many questions as necessary so you have the data to back up the price of your product or service.
  10. Recap and replay to ensure clarity. As you wrap up the discovery phase of the call, highlight certain key pieces of information by saying things like, “It sounds like xyx — Did I get this right?” Not only does this ensure you got the right message, it sets you up to match your offering to their exact needs in your presentation.

Deliver the Presentation

  1. Be authentic, don’t pitch. When it comes down to it, this is a human-to-human interaction with whom you’ve built tust. Leverage the rapport you’ve developed and treat it like a conversation, not a pitch.
  2. Present benefits vs. features. People care about benefits, not features. You need to convey why they should care, not simply what you do. Connect the why to their motivation. How does your offering help them meet their goals?
  3. Use their words back to them. Make your message simple and show you are listening by using their words. Not only does this ensure they understand you, it demonstrates you were actively listening.
  4. Don’t laugh at your own jokes. Avoid complimenting your own product. It puts people in a position to disagree. It doesn’t matter what you think, it matters what they think.
  5. Never lie and don’t guess. Nuf said.
  6. Never sell yourself short. You don’t need to talk yourself down. Saying things like, “Sorry I’m new here,” or, “I’m not technical,” makes people feel insecure. You’re on this call for a reason, now rock it!
  7. Under promise and over deliver. Don’t ever say things like, “I can have you running by end of week,” if it’s not true. Remember, every promise is a contract.
  8. Present specifically to their needs. Every presentation you give should be different. Why? Because every prospect you speak to is different. Listen to what they need and adapt your presentation to those needs.
  9. Show them don’t tell them. Remember that doing is always better saying, “Imagine this….”. Instead, practice saying, “Now let me show you how this will work.”
  10. Present social proof. Social proof, or verification from a peer, is a powerful sales tool. Incorporate phrases like, “I just talked to someone in similar position to you.” or “Did you know 74% of business owners similar to you use our product to...?” It will put your prospect at ease.
  11. Trial close throughout your pitch. Don’t wait until the very end to get your prospect on board. Throughout the conversation ask: “Do you see how this could help you?” This creates yes momentum. The psychological advantage of this is that the more “yeses” you get, the harder it is for someone to say “no” at the end.
  12. Focus on what you do vs. what you don’t do. No business is perfect and inevitably, you’ll encounter questions you don’t have a great answer to. Always try to pivot and provide another benefit instead of a flat “no.”
  13. Always be closing, not educating. At the end of the day, every sales conversation should be about closing, not just educating.

Make the Close

  1. Positivity breeds abundance. Selling is hard work that can often leave you feeling defeated. Still, it’s important to operate from an energy of abundance vs. scarcity. If you’ve done the work and it hasn’t happened yet, that means you’re due! Not that you won’t close.
  2. Talk about money in their terms. Take the time to tailor your sale to their world. For example, instead of speaking only in terms of dollars and cents, say: “You’re a chiropractor, you charge $50 a session, so if this tool can help you get one more appointment, you’ve paid for your software this month.”
  3. Use urgency wisely and do not lie. It’s tempting to use false urgency to push a sale, but lying puts you at risk to ruin a relationship you’ve worked hard to build. Is the promo really only good for today?
  4. Make them feel special. When working to close a deal, show the prospect that they are important to you and that you’re willing to do something special for them. For example, you can say: “Let me check with my CFO...” Not only does this show them you’re willing to go above and beyond for them, it shows that they are valuable enough to you to seek counsel from higher-ups in your company.
  5. Don’t disparage the competition. Rather than talk down the competition, talk up your own merits. Practice using language that skillfully promotes your business without overtly disparaging your competition. For example, “We find that people switch to our service from Company X when they’ve reached the next level in their business.”
  6. Practice persistence but know when to punt. All good salespeople need to know when to back out of a sale. If you need to send an “I’m sorry but our solution might not be right for you” email do it. Often, having a pull-back strategy can cause the prospect to lean in at the last moment.
  7. Use an assumptive closing technique. With this technique, you speak as if you have already closed the sale. For example, “We’ve talked through all the steps, now let’s fill out an order form.” If they push back, address the objection then turn the conversation back toward an assumptive close.
  8. Learn to do quick math. Keep a calculator in front of you or learn to do fast math so you can plug in any numbers they throw out on the spot to make the conversation more relevant to them.
  9. Goal line plays. Always keep a promotion or two in your back pocket to create urgency. Something as simple as, “Listen I’ll make your first session free,” can be the nudge that pushes them over the finish line.
  10. “We miss 100 percent of the sales we don’t ask for.” The wise words of Zig Ziglar still ring true. Ask for the sale! They’re expecting it.

WHAT COMES NEXT?

I hope these tips will help you close your next sale.

And if you’re still hunting for a software platform to help you collect payment on that sale seamlessly, we can help with that too.

Find out how Premier Athlete Training grew revenue by 400% with one tweak to their PaySimple account.

Learn how PaySimple can help take your business to the next level.