Advice, information & inspiration for small business owners

 Subscribe by RSS RSS

How to polish up your sales skills

by Roger Pierce

There are two reasons small businesses struggle with B2B selling.

The first problem is a weak (or non-existent) sales strategy.

The second problem lies with ineffective communication.

If you've got an effective sales strategy in place but your sales aren't picking up, you may need to look at your interactions with each prospect – otherwise known as your sales skills.

Approach your next sales call with patience, preparation, and these tips.

1. Anticipate objections & prepare answers

There are only so many reasons a prospect won't buy from you. Very rarely are those reasons personal.  Here are the most common reasons a buyer won’t buy:

  • They don't need what you've got.
  • They need it but they're not ready.
  • They perceive the price is too high.

Being ready for these common objections can help you react strategically. In some cases you'll walk away. In other situations, you may find the prospect simply needs more information in order to proceed.

  • If the prospect doesn't need your product or service right now, schedule another call to see if anything has changed in three to six months.
  • If they need it but they're not ready to buy, ask what can help them to make a decision now – and give it to them. It might be something non-monetary, like a longer warranty or a trial period.
  • If they can't afford it, the prospect may simply need more information (or different information, like a customer testimonial) to fully understand the value of your offering. By probing you may discover it’s a cash flow issue, which allows you to review payment options.

TIP: Good people skills are the key to sales success. Accomplished salespeople steer clear of classic turn-offs – like coming on too strong, talking too much, failing to listen, and ignoring opportunities to build a relationship with the buyer.

2. Use a sales script

Many successful salespeople use a script to guide their conversations. When used correctly, a script can help you avoid being stumped with a tough question and keep you on message.

Using script doesn’t mean you must sound ‘scripted.’ It isn’t supposed to be followed to the letter. The goal of a script is to keep you on track so you reach your destination by the end of the call – which may be a specific offer, a follow-up appointment, or an order.

TIP: Practice vocalizing the script in advance. Use your script with a colleague and respond to the questions and objections you anticipate during a real interaction. Rehearsing will give you confidence, and after a few calls you may feel comfortable enough to lose the script altogether.

3. Follow Up

An overwhelming number of sales never happen for one foolish reason: the seller fails to follow-up with the prospect.

Sellers get distracted by other noise or the next opportunity and never return to the prospect.

  • Recall for example an engaging conversation you may have enjoyed at a trade show both with a seller who promised to be in touch. You likely exchanged business cards with that seller but never heard from him or her again.

Don’t commit the same sin. Schedule a follow up in your calendar and make it your priority for the day. Set aside enough time in your day to initiate new sales as well as follow-up calls, emails, or activities related to previous prospect opportunities. If your business will participate in a large sales event – like a trade show – be sure to commit sufficient follow-up time in your calendar after the event.

Chances are you started your business based on a particular talent or passion and selling skills wasn’t one of them. So don’t feel bad if you didn’t arrive with killer sales abilities because very few business owners have them. Remember that entrepreneurship is journey; every one of us gets the chance to develop new skills along the way.

(Image courtesy of Flickr)




Roger Pierce is one of Canada’s top small business experts. He’s the founder of 12 businesses, co-author of the book Thriving Solo, and a writer for leading business publications such as Star Business Club, PROFIT online, YouInc and CBC’s Dragons’ Den website. Articles, blogs and videos produced by Pierce Content Marketing are used by national brands to win small business customers. LinkedIn





Top of page