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Sales 101

We’re mostly nerds, and nerds tend to think that to be good at sales you have to be naturally extroverted and sociable. This is false. Being good at sales takes only a few things:

  • Listen: it’s not about you, it’s about the client. Don’t regurgitate your pitch to people. Shut up, let them talk, ask questions, and try to genuinely understand what they need and how you can help.
  • Be trustworthy: the best kind of clients (the only kind we want) are people who want to work with us because they know we’ll do a great job. If you have to force somebody into a deal, you’ll regret it later. Establishing trust with your connections should be your top priority, because nobody buys from someone they don’t know.
  • Be helpful: the best way to establish trust and get people on your side is to be genuinely helpful to them. “Pay it forward,” or help people with your expertise and resources without necessarily expecting anything in return. This means passing along references and opportunities, rather than trying to catch every single possible opportunity.
  • Move fast: speed is a huge factor in selling. Send emails right after a meeting with a clear summary of your interaction along with next steps. If you promised an introduction do it right away. If a client wants to do business with you, get an estimate as fast as possible to him. Once that’s done, get the contract signed and start working.

There’s nothing more to it: meet people, listen, establish trust, be genuinely helpful and move fast.