How to sell stuff

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People tell me that they think I’m a really good salesman. I don’t consider myself especially good at selling or have any super secret 1337 skillz that make me good at selling things. I just use common sense which helps out a lot.

Sell things that people want to buy

It’s really easy to sell frozen cold ice cream on a sunny day. Try to be aware of what you really are selling, who you are selling it to, and under which circumstances. If you realize this, you won’t lose time and resources by trying to push something that people don’t want. And the best way to figure it out, is to actually go out, try to sell it, and see the reactions.

People WANT to pay for things that are valuable to them, but HATE wasting money on things that aren’t. So just make sure whatever product/service you have is valuable and don’t try and sell something that nobody wants to buy. Because if they end up buying it from you, they will hate you for it afterwards and you will lose a repeat customer which is far more valuable in the long run. This is why relational marketing and pyramids suck, because your friends buy from you, but they end up having a horrible bias against you which in time ruins the friendship.

If you do bizdev or have a commercial role and are in a business, then you should definitely be an important member of the product development team.

Emphasize whatever attribute of a product/service is valuable to the potential buyer

If you’re selling a pen to an artist, highlight the color and the stroke of the pen. If you’re selling it to an engineer, talk about the durability and the design. The same goes for pretty much any product/service. Everything has many different qualities, so make sure you make the most relevant ones stand out. The format and presentation of whatever you are selling is also important. If you’re selling banking software to bankers who dress up in $3000 dollar suits, then make sure you don’t wear sandals and shorts to the meeting. And viceversa, selling a surfboard while dressed in an Armani suit isn’t going to be easy.

Do whatever works and don’t just follow stupid trends. Mark Zuckerberg can wear hoodies every day, but in 99% of the meetings he’s been in, he’s on the buying end.

If you’re trying to sell something, don’t be afraid of selling it, but don’t be pushy

Very often, people are afraid of doing the things that they actually want to do. People often see sales as something embarrassing or think that money is EVIL. It only is if you’re not following the two previous rules or if you’re being annoying!

If you’re selling a crappy product, in the wrong place, to the wrong person and being pushy about it, then you SHOULD be embarrassed of selling it. But then again, you shouldn’t be trying to sell it in the first place, or you should change your strategy.

On the other hand, when you sell something that’s useful or helpful or that people like, people will actually like you more for selling it to them. So don’t be afraid to sell it or charge for it! In Latin America especially, people are afraid to go out and sell stuff, because of the historical influence of religion, which left a mindset under which people think that money and anything related to it is evil. If you think that money is evil, then why are you working on a product or trying to sell it in the first place?

Don’t be pushy. If you call somebody 50 times to offer something and they keep turning you down, then they probably don’t really need it or want it. Don’t be annoying, but don’t give up easily either. You have to be careful here, because there’s a fine line between being pushy and being a good salesman. Just like when you’re starting a relationship, you can’t call the other person 50 times a day and come off as a psycho, but you can’t ignore them and look like an asshole either. Why? because in that situation you are selling yourself!

Selling is easy

If you follow these simple common sense rules, then selling will be as easy as pie. And if it’s not working, then your not selling a good product, to a customer who values it and under good circumstances. And if you feel you’re afraid or lack experience, then just keep trying, that’s how everybody learns everything. But be aware of what you are really doing.

You sell things all day long, even if you do not realize it or get directly paid for it. You sell something almost half time you open your mouth. You sell your time, your ideas, your friendship, your skills, your reputation, your company, your products, yourself…

So you might as well get good at it.

June 10, 2013