I've been around sales in one way or another for a long time and I've been thinking of making a thread with some information I think will be useful for ages. Every time I started to write it though, I stopped, because it was going to be a long process condensing my thoughts into something succinct enough to be readable. Anyway, today I decided to stop faffing around and actually get it written. So here goes: I regularly see people asking for advice about making sales calls and although I see lots of good advice given, I've also noticed that most of the advice is centred around the call itself. But believe it or not, the phone call is just one of 5 elements of successfully closing a sale - and if you don't get the first 4 right you have far less chance of making a sale. Conversely however, if you do get the other 4 things right, you have a much better chance of making the sale. This guide is an introduction to those 5 key elements. It's not going to be all encompassing because that would take a book, but I promise you, if you put these things into practice, you will make more sales. To start with I will sum up everything you need to know about sales in one sentence: If you offer the right product, to the right person, for the right price, at the right time, in the right way - you will make a sale. You make think that's a grandiose statement, but it's true. And any time you don't make a sale, it will be because you have not covered one or more of those 5 key things adequately. The key to making sales is getting as many of those 5 things right as you can - and the key to improving your selling abilities is to analyse which of them was lacking when you didn't make a sale and then making improvements. Once you get into the habit of doing this, you will see dramatic improvements. I'll go through these 5 key areas one by one: 1. The RIGHT PRODUCT. Now you may think there's not much you can do about this if you already have a product. But that's not the case. There's the obvious methodology of selling multiple, distinct products, but you can also be creative. Whatever product you are selling, there are different ways of packaging it, describing it, pricing it and badging it. With a bit of thought and creativity you can turn one product into many products. And the more products you are able to offer, the more chances one of them will be exactly what your customer is looking for. The more product options you can give the potential customer the more chance they will buy from you . The trick is to be receptive to what the customer is looking for and adjust your call accordingly. If you're selling SEO services for example, one customer may buy because you will help him generate more leads - and the next customer may buy because you will give him the advantage over his biggest competitor - and the next may buy because you will cut his advertising budget in half. Same service every call, described in 3 different ways, 3 times the chance of making a sale. And in the process of thinking about different ways to talk about your product you will be more confident about the calls you make - and will make more sales. 2. The RIGHT PERSON. Most people in sales get told one thing - make sure you are talking to the decision maker. It's solid advice, to be overlooked at your peril. I won't cover old ground here because everyone's probably aware of it. But there's another person you should be selling to that most people overlook - the influencer. A perfect example of selling to an influencer is toy adverts at Christmas. The decision makers when it comes to buying Christmas presents are the parents. They are the ones with the money, they are the ones who do the shopping and they are the ones with the final say - but are the adverts aimed at the parents? Hell no! The adverts are aimed at their kids - and that's because their kids are powerful influencers. And at Christmas they exert a lot of influence. They exert so much influence on their parents to get them the latest, greatest toy or game that there's not a Christmas that goes by without the parents' purchasing decisions being dictated by pressure from those pesky little influencers. Well it's the same in business sales guys. Don't just target the decision makers - target the influencers too. Whatever you are selling, there will be people in the company who have influence over the decision makers. Depending on what you're selling that can be the anyone from the receptionist, to the salesmen to the CEO's wife (or husband). An influencer is likely to be the person who is going to use or get the most benefit from your product - figure out who those people are and try selling the benefits of your product to them. If they buy into it, if they want it, or think they need it, they are likely to try to influence the decision maker into buying it. If you get an influencer on your side and do it right, they will almost become your salesman. 3. The RIGHT PRICE. Again, this is something that gets overlooked and it's not just about picking a price and sticking with it. Basically, the more pricing options you have, the more chance you've got of having something that fits your customer's budget. It's about giving the customer options. You've all seen those pricing plans on websites - the ones with 3 or more tiers. The reason businesses do that is because they work and you should do it to. If you currently have just one price for your product, think of ways to create a tiered pricing plan. It's not hard to do. If you're selling a service for example, create both a 'light' version of the service at a lower price and a 'high end' version of the service at a higher price. The right price is not just about the cheapest price either. Sometimes very expensive is the right price. Take watches, clothing and jewellery for example - there are some people (lots of them in fact) who will only buy the best. And there are some people who specifically look for the most expensive thing they can find. Those people exist in the business world too. With tiered pricing for example, there was a study that showed there are some people who will always opt for the most expensive tier, whether they need it or not. And there are businesses now who include an even more expensive tier just to cater for those people - I'm not saying it will work for everyone, but you won't know until you test the water. You can also give yourself more pricing options when it comes to the type of service you are offering. Services for example can be sold as a one-off or as an ongoing, retained service. If your service is just one of them, think about whether you can find a way of offering the other too. Having both options gives you the flexibility of catering to different budgets and will therefore result in more sales. Another thing worth thinking about is the freemium model. It's common in the gaming and apps world and you are no doubt aware of it. The game or app is free, but there are premium features available to purchase. Whatsapp is a brilliant example. Free for the first year and then just $1 per year after that. The reason this model works so well is that giving something away for free gets the customer on board - giving you more time and more opportunity to sell them the full version or service. Think about whether there's anything you can offer the customer for free. It doesn't have to be much, just enough to give them a taste of what you can do, which in return gives you more time to sell to them. Here's one little trick for example - if the purpose of your call is to get a sales meeting with the client, don't ask them for a sales meeting. Tell them you offer a free, on-site consultation where you advise them on a few things they can do, for free, themselves, to make their business better (clearly centred around what you are selling). The customer sees it as getting something for free, but you are giving yourself the opportunity to sit with them for an hour and present your services to them. 4. The RIGHT TIME. Timing is everything! If you call a business to sell them a product they've just bought, you're never going to make a sale. Likewise, if they're downsizing and cost-cutting, you are unlikely to sell to them. And similarly, if you call them just as they are considering buying a service or product that you supply - hey presto! The key to getting this right is research and I promise you, taking the time to do your research will pay dividends. It will save you wasting valuable time trying to sell to people who are never going buy from you - and it will mean you are more likely to speaking to people who will buy from you, exactly when they are ready to buy. The right time to make your call could be when they are expanding, when they are relocating, when the new accounting year starts (new year, new budgets), when they mention your service on social media. It could be anything and everything, depending on what you're selling. I can't give specific advice on what research you should do, because it's going to be different for everyone - but with a little thought you will easily be able to come up with some tricks of your own. 5. The RIGHT WAY. The big one. The sales call itself. I'm not going to go into how to make the call itself here and what to say, primarily because it will make this post far too long. But - if you put the right amount of effort, thought and creativity into the 4 things in the list above properly, you will already have all the ammunition and tools you need to make a far better sales call. And you will consequently be more confident when you make that call - and therefore you will make more sales. That's because you will know what you're talking about. You will have a much better idea of what the customer needs. You'll hopefully be calling them at a time when you know they will be in the market for your product. You'll also know what whatever their budget or needs, you will be able to offer them something suitable. And that extra confidence will come across to the customer too - a natural by product of the effort you've put in will be that you'll sound more professional, will be more engaging and will have more success. OK, that's it for the minute. I hope you guys find something useful here - and if there's enough interest, I'd be happy to cover some of the areas in more detail in other threads. I'll also be happy to answer any questions anyone has in the thread - I don't profess to know everything about sales, but I've had a fair amount of experience so I'll try to help if I can. Cheers all. TL;DR If you offer the right product, to the right person, for the right price, at the right time, in the right way - you will make a sale.