Hi! I was asked to give a presentation on how I’ve been successful in sales last week, and it went so well I decided to put a shortened version of my talk here on our website.
It’s great advice for anyone who wants to learn how to sell and start their own business. Remember, a business doesn’t exist until sales are closed and a profit is made. So I believe the easiest way to start a business is to learn how to sell. Above is my featured video, and below are the notes summarizing what I have to say if you’d rather read them:
The first business I started, which is still my main source of income, is a promotional products sales business. I operated as an independent entity who contracted with another company to provide the overhead. So I sold t-shirts, hats, jackets, pens, mugs, backpacks – anything that can be printed to corporate accounts.
If you buy this sort of thing for your business, I’d love to work with you and tell you more about my business. Send me an email on our contact form here. I’d love to be your supplier. (See how easy sales can be. It’s really just telling people who you are, what you do for a living, and asking if you can help make their job easier.)
Before I get started, there’s three things you should know about me:
- I’ve been a professional salesperson for 5 years.
- I’ve sold over a million dollars of product with no prior experience or training.
- I’ve had a lot of fun doing it.
But before I explain the “HOW” story of how I did it, I want to talk about the “WHY?” of it all. Because for me, knowing my why helped me get through all the super HARD parts of sales and entrepreneurship.
To find my own personal WHY, I really had to ask myself what I wanted out of life. I realized I wanted:
- The freedom to work from home, avoid rush hour, and come and go as I please.
- The ability to sell a product that would need to be re-ordered, so there was a residual aspect to each sale. (I didn’t want to sell something like a roof on a house, where after one sale, I wouldn’t see the client again for 30 years. I wanted to build relationships with long-term clients and businesses.)
- I wanted to sell directly to other businesses, which have much larger budgets and much better work hours. Business hours are M-F, 9-5, and have budgets in the thousands of dollars to spend. Peoples personal hours are nights and weekends which I hate working, and their budgets are in the hundreds of dollars.
These reasons became my “Why,” and my “Why” is what kept me going when things got hard. I’ll be honest, I am not super passionate about promotional products. I don’t believe selling printed pens and t-shirts is my purpose in life. But I am passionate about helping people and with this line of work, I get to help people make there jobs easier and help them look great. That is what I love.
I am also passionate about freedom and the ability to build my life exactly how I want it. Promotional products is just the vehicle I used to start my first business, and create an income stream to build my dream life.
Now onto the “HOW” part of my story:
Before I start telling you how HARD it is to start a sales-based business. I’ll tell a story about how EASY it can be. This is the story of how I made my first sale:
In 2014, when I started this business, I simply picked up my phone and called a friend who owned a business, and told him I was starting my own business.
He said, “I’ve been looking for these WD-40 pens I’ve seen before and I want to print our logo on them.”
I found the product he was talking about, learned how to get them, and called him back and said that my business could provide them. He placed a $700 order with me on the spot. That was how easy my first sale was, and now that I had clients, I was in business and self-employed for the first time in my life!!! All I had to do was pick up the phone and call someone I knew.
Now, I’ll explain the hard part about starting a sales-based business: Which is all the rejection, prospecting, and dead-ends you have to go through to find enough clients to build a business big enough to live off.
To find clients outside of my sphere of friends, I started by using the tried and true sales techniques developed by all of the successful salespeople who had to build their own book of business before me, like: insurance agents, realtors, and financial advisers.
To succeed in sales, you have to start getting your name out in the world so people are aware your business exists. So I set a new goal of making 10 new contacts everyday, and calling 10 old contacts every day.
I started by going door to door. I’d drive to 10 businesses every morning, and then I’d call 10 people I’d met every afternoon.
I would introduce myself to the front desk receptionist, “Hi, I’m Bill and I have a promotional products company. Here is my business card and a flyer, and I’d love to work with you. Can I ask the name of the person that purchases promotional products in your company? I’d love to give them a call and see if there is an opportunity to work with together.”
Once I got their name, I would leave and make a note to call them back tomorrow.
I did this for 3 months, but then I learned a much better way to meet 10 new contacts: I discovered that attending networking events was a much bigger bang for my buck. I learned that I could meet 10 new contacts in 30 minutes at a networking event, rather than spending half a day driving around.
How did I find these networking events? 2 Ways:
#1 I joined a Chamber of commerce in my local city which hosted weekly events.
#2 I googled: “free networking events in the twin cities.” I’d print out a list of events happening, and then I’d just go to them and start meeting people and handing out my business card.
These were my personal sales techniques that I’d use when meeting a new client:
#1 While networking, I would ask the person I was talking with if their company buys promotional products. If yes, they were a prospect.
#2 I then would ask how big their company was? The size of the company would tell me if it was worth my time to call them back. In my business, 20+ people meant the company probably had a big enough budget to make it worth my time. If it was a company of 2 people, then I’d end up doing a ton of work and not making any money because their budget would be like $200. It’s tough to live off $200 a year. It’s much easier to live off clients who have a budget of $20,000+ per year.
#3 I would then ask for the name of the person who made the decisions regarding the promotional products I was selling inside their company.
#4 I would then call that buyer the next day and see if I could set up a meeting to say hello and introduce myself.
This was the HARD part of sales for me. Because sometimes it felt like you’d have to go through 90% rejections and dead ends just to get to that holy grail of 10% of people who were willing to give you and your business a shot.
Now we’re going to get into what I love about sales and entrepreneurship.
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE PEOPLE AND THE LONG TERM RELATIONSHIPS YOU CAN MAKE WHEN YOU FIND ENOUGH AWESOME CLIENTS.
How I sell in a meeting to get awesome clients:
- Once a meeting is set, I just try to be fun, friendly, and someone a buyer wants to see and work with again.
- I almost never try to coerce or force someone into a sale. If they don’t want to buy, that’s fine. I’ll just go onto the next call and find the next person who wants to buy.
- Rather than selling, I look for pain points and problems I can solve to make their job easier.
- I look for ways I can make them look good in front of their clients, and feel good every time they talk with me.
Mostly, I try to invert the typical sales mindset.
I rarely think about myself and what I’ll get out of the relationship. Instead, I think about the person I am talking to, and the business I am meeting with, and I do everything I can to make them have a great experience every time they work with me.
Ultimately being successful in sales is NOT about manipulating a buyer to get one sale. The best companies and sales-people develop long-term relationships and focus their efforts on turning 1 sale into 10, 100, or even 1000 sales over a lifetime.
And that my friends, sums up the systems that have helped me be successful in my promotional product sales and entrepreneurship. I hope this information will help you too with your sales and entrepreneurship.
Again, if you buy promotional products for your business, I’d love to work with you and tell you more about my business. Send me an email on our contact form here. I’d love to help you out.
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