There have been countless number articles on sales and how to sell. The emphasis has been more on meeting individual targets and being on the run always.
A sale is not a single transaction by a single person as is generally perceived. It is a strategic process that is supported by all the members of the team. Apart from the salesman's effort, it also involves:
I) Effort by the technical team - to make the quality of the product / service sale-able.
ii) Effort by the marketing team - to position the product / service correctly for the client.
iii) Effort by the finance team - to price the product / service correctly for the client.
iv) Effort by the service team - to ensure that client's support is maintained, etc.
There are multiple factors that contribute towards the closure of a successful sale. However, I feel the two most important contributors are Quality and Knowledge:
A salesman can only sell through two aspects of quality -
a) the quality of his product or service and
b) the quality of the overall sales experience to the client.
A sale closes based on the knowledge of the salesman:
a) knowledge of the product / service he is selling
b) knowledge of the industry he is operating in, especially his competition
c) knowledge of the customer, while putting himself in the customer's shoes
d) knowledge of his own knowledge, his limitations and strong points
The best sales presentation is the one that you never have to make to the client.
This is where your creativity, strategies, relationships, quality, almost everything comes into play. You are successful when you sell without having to go through the rigours of selling.
Work on the 'Funnelling Process' and pitch from a position of strength.
The best show of strength is to listen and to listen carefully. Most salesmen do not listen because they are busy selling their wares to the customer. That is where they fail. The idea is not to force a sale on the customer, but to let the customer buy from you.
The other very important point is to learn from lost sales. In fact, the day you lose a deal should be the best (not worst) day as maybe you do not get to earn some money but you get to learn priceless wisdom on what not to do. This will give you more returns in the future.
The author is a serial entrepreneur and mentor. He is also a visiting lecturer in various institutions. He is a pioneer in Knowledge Management and Outsourcing related businesses in India. He heads Shriyai - a strategic management consulting company.