Every organization involved in music and games is a sales company -- or should be. Operators sell to locations. Distributors sell to operators. Manufacturers effectively sell to both. Associations sell to everybody. Based on my own experiences and in-person observations of world-class sales professionals in various industries, here are seven strategies for more successful sales.
1. Sales depend on relationships and rapport more than prices and products. Meeting people face to face is crucial. There is no substitute for going to the prospect's place of business, seeing where and how they work (and with whom), and what their daily routines are like. Investing your time and effort tells them they're important to you. It also gets them comfortable and relaxed. Most people are willing to share things in person that they will never tell you through a remote medium. Face-to-face contact creates opportunities to listen in a much more effective way. That's crucial because...
2. Being a good listener is more important than being a good talker. Successful sales people are active listeners. They listen so intently that they pick up what is being said between the lines. The most effective listener validates the speaker, even when the listener disagrees with what is being said. (In fact, the more strongly you disagree with someone's views, the more important it is to validate them as a human being.) You validate others with body language, close attention, eye contact, and by asking genuinely interested questions. People can tell when you come from this place of respect and affirmation, and it makes all the difference. Once someone feels heard, appreciated and validated, they're ready to listen to what you have to say.
3. One master salesman of my acquaintance, who went from broke to multi-millionaire between the ages of 19 and 23, said the best sales advice he ever got was this single line: "When you're talking, you're selling. When the prospect is talking, he's buying." How do you pull off the jiujitsu trick of getting a prospect to talk himself into buying what you have to sell? The secret is...
4. Get into agreement with your prospect on an answer to this crucial question: "What problem are you trying to solve?" (Or, "What problem are we trying to solve together?") Strangely, most buyers and sellers never think through the real problems they're trying to solve. ("More sales" or "more customers" aren't problems; they're results of successful solutions.) I learned this principle from one of the world's most effective chief executives. Let's call him Mr. X. (I've worked with Mr. X, but not for him. He has led two of the planet's most famous and prestigious companies.) He is reserved and soft-spoken, but when he speaks, people listen because he goes straight to what matters to the listener. He is zealous about creative "problem definition," which he says always precedes and determines successful "problem solution." No wonder Mr. X is a world-class salesman.
5. A good salesperson must have a great product or service, and must believe in it. You also need a great story. In sales, that story often goes like this: "Okay, Mr. Prospect, we agree we're trying to solve problem A. You've always used solution B. But what you would really like is something that does C. Well, I've got something closer to C than anything you've seen before. Here's why."
6. If you're a salesman for a company, it's a mistake to think you work solely for that company. The most successful salespeople think of themselves as working for their customers. Your company writes your paychecks, but your customers fund your paychecks.
7. Many sales efforts are missing two vital ingredients: time and patience. Assuming you have a good product and company, if you build good relationships, then sales follow naturally. But not overnight. It can take weeks, months or even years until a prospect is ready. If you demonstrate that you're in no rush, they're more likely to feel confident enough to commit. You need to communicate the attitude (without saying it) that, "What I've got is so good that sooner or later, you're going to buy. If you don't, somebody else will -- but I hope it's you."
What about advertising and marketing? They're crucial, but often misunderstood. They don't always make the sale for you. Their jobs are to introduce you to the prospect and establish your brand. Repeat ads and steady marketing build trust and credibility. Strong sales relationships start there.