The single greatest opportunity for anyone running a business is to get serious about sales. Sales are the lifeblood of the business. No sales mean no customers and no customers mean no business.
Believe it or not, you’re already a business owner. You don’t have to be the CEO of a public company to be considered a business owner. The only criteria you need to meet is having a product that you want people to buy. In today’s world, you are the product, and you better be good at selling it.
When you’re negotiating a salary for your job, you’re selling your skills at a certain price. If you’re a freelancer, you need to convince your client that you’re worth X dollars.
If you are actually running your own business, then you need to market and sell both your product and your brand. When people buy a Macbook, they’re not just buying a laptop. They’re buying an Apple laptop top, it’s high status and sexy.
One of the best examples you’ll ever see of a superior sales pitch is John D. Rockefeller’s when he was building his business. He didn’t brashly show off or try to use the sleazy sales tactics we see all too often today. He was modest, yet direct about his intentions and confident in his product.
“I would go into an office and present my card and say to the man I supposed his business connections were satisfactory, and I did not wish to intrude upon him, but that I had a proposition that I myself believed in and believed it would be to his advantage, that I did not expect him to decide off hand but asked him to think it over and I would see him again about it.”
Nothing crazy. Just a confident, well-executed pitch. Let’s break it down.
Always Start With Being Friendly and Personable
No one likes to jump right into business talk. It feels too cold and aggressive. People will be far more likely to give you their business if they like you first.
The first thing Rockefeller did was present his business card to his customer. That’s being friendly and professional. He then acknowledged that his potential customer was probably doing just fine and that he wasn’t going to be too pushy. That’s being honest and using a bit of flattery to win them over.
He’s not rushing his customers into the sale, he’s smoothing the transition to make them feel more comfortable. People always like that. Make them smile before you sell to them.
Be Direct and Confident About Your Sale
After his friendly opening, Rockefeller got to the point. He didn’t beat around the bush, pretending he was just a friend and not a salesman. He made it clear that he had something to sell that day.
At the same time, he was very confident in his approach. He explicitly states his belief in the product itself and that it would help out his potential client. There wasn’t any showing off of features yet, he was just saying that he strongly believed that he had something valuable to give.
You Don’t Push Too Hard
Part of being confident in your sale is knowing when you’ve said enough. You present your product, demonstrate it’s value, and that’s it. At that point, your customer has all they need to decide if they want the product or not. You’ve shown them the value it has. If they refuse, it’s probably just not the right fit for both of you.
On the flip side, if you keep pushing them, you’ll eventually turn them off. They’ll see you as the aggressive salesman, not the friend who’s trying to provide them with value. Let your product’s value speak for itself and be confident in that.
You Follow Up
Following up is the icing on the cake. Very, very few people follow up, ultimately leading to them losing the sale.
Following up shows that you care. You don’t just dump your sales pitch on them and wait for your paycheck. You should remember your customer and go back to them. Just the fact that you cared to put in the effort to follow up is often enough to make clients go through with the sale. They recognize the efforts you’ve made and are happy to do business with the kind of person that would do that.
Rockefeller’s sales pitch wasn’t outlandish or overly strategic. In fact, it had just two key traits that won sales so effectively:
Confidence, about what was being sold and the value it had.
Personable, because people will always buy you first before they buy your product.