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How to be successful at sales

Photo by: Sarah Pflug

Make it your goal to help others!

A key to being successful in business is to find a need and fill it. This is the same road to success in selling. Helping people solve their problems. Can anyone get good at sales? Absolutely! The key to being successful is to be real, be yourself,  be consistent, and be persistent.

Sounds easy, but is it? Today’s consumer has so much information at their fingertips that it has become almost a case of systems overload.  Then we have the stigma that many people view salespeople as piranhas. Salespeople have an ulterior motive, to separate the buyer from their hard earned cash.  How do we change this perception?

The first step is to treat the customers as a person you want to get to know and have as part of your circle of friends. Yes, they call it developing a relationship. And we all know that there are no shortcuts to building a successful long-lasting friendship. Start by asking open ended questions that will lead you to the heart of what the customer truly desires and needs. This can be tricky because what they need is not always what they want. Here are a few examples of open ended questions:

  1. In a retail scenario, instead of asking, “Is there anything I can help you find?” try “Have you visited us before?” From there if they say yes you can then respond; “Thank you for coming back, what brings you in today?”. If they say no you can reply, “Thanks for coming in, let me show you our various sections.”
  2. Talking to a repeat client, instead of asking, “What could our company do to serve you better?” you can ask, “what is the one thing that none of your vendors do that you wish they would?”
  3. When selling to a business  a question that is often asked is, “ What do you need?” Try, “What is the business problem you’re trying to solve?”


A great technique that salespeople use is the called the FORM method. This basically has you ask your prospective client about their Family, then their Occupation, moving on to what they do for fun - their Recreation, and ending with what Motivates them. Asking about a person’s immediate family is an easy way to open a conversation. It’s important for you to share information about yours.  This builds a bond and some common ground. Naturally, talking about the person’s occupation gives you some keen insights about what is important to them, what challenges they face and areas that they really enjoy. This gives you an opportunity to build some empathy and understanding. Talking about what they do for fun is always interesting and a safe way to build rapport and trust. Finally talking about what motivates them is crucial. Another way to look at this is to find out what is important to them. Or, what are they trying to accomplish. When done with empathy, active listening, and sincere genuine interest you can develop a long lasting win-win relationship.

Absolute killers to developing rapport is to have your questions sound like they are canned or a soft form of interrogation. It’s all about give and take, having a real conversation not an artificial survey of information. Be real, don’t fake responses or provide phony patronizing acknowledgement. Don’t rush the conversation. When there are spaces of time between questions and answers you don’t need to rush in to fill the space. Give your client time to respond and definitely don’t answer the question for them.

Photo by CMDR Shane on Unsplash

Success Keys

  1. It is essential to return calls or respond to inquiries as soon as possible. Research conclusively shows that the longer it takes to get back to a person the lower the conversion rate.
  2. Tell stories. Captivating the imagination, showing possibilities, illuminating successes, and highlighting the positive through storytelling is much more effective than just giving straight information.
  3. Address pain points – your customers pain points. In fact, your major focus should be in showing how you can eliminate pain points. Tony Robbins tells us that people are driven by gaining pleasure or avoiding pain and they work hardest on avoiding pain. So be the hero and solve that problem.
  4.  If at all possible, provide three solutions. I always have three different price points, people automatically look for patterns but get overwhelmed when they have too much to look at. I found that people usually don’t want to look cheap so shy away from the lower priced unit, don’t want to pay too much so shy away from the highest priced unit, and will often settle into the middle priced unit.
  5. Know your product! Know what it can do and what it can’t do. By carefully listening to your client’s needs beforehand you can then match them with the most appropriate product choices. Remember point 4.
  6. Be prepared for objections! Make a list of all of the questions that a prospective client may have and come up with an answer for them. Go to other salespeople in the company and ask them what they have heard and check it out with your list.
  7. Become the teacher or advisor. Think of your client as a person who needs help and provide them with those solutions. A trusted advisor who genuinely cares about their client through engagement and active listening always succeed.


Chuck Groot’s CPA, MPA, MBA credentials as an author, teacher, business coach and entrepreneur are noteworthy. His clients credit their success to his uncanny ability to get right to the root of any challenge that they put in front of him.  He credits his success to his clients and their willingness to being open to new ideas and desire in pursuit of excellence. 

As an entrepreneur, his enthusiasm and innovative approach have garnered him both professional success and the recognition of his peers. But his greatest delight is being able to share these skills with others and enabling them to be successful on their own.

I would really like to hear what you think about this article. Drop me a line and let me know how you feel about it?


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