11 Simple & Effective Guiding Principles of Selling
Sales principles are foundational concepts that influence your sales perspective and point-of-view.
They are short, memorable tips that provide a simple framework to help you sell more effectively.
You can think of them as ground rules to adapt in order to improve your results and habits.
You’ll want to personalize these to your unique sales situation, but here are a few examples to get you started:
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1. The definition of selling is helping people do what they do better.
Every sales conversation should take place from the customer's perspective rather than from your perspective. It's never "my product is great." It should always be "here's how I can help."
2. You have to sell yourself.
When you’re selling, you’re not just positioning your product, service, or solution – you’re positioning yourself as a trusted advisor and confidant to discuss challenges, goals, priorities, and most importantly, solutions.
3. The sales process is an extended conversation.
Selling is having a conversation. It’s a give and take that requires listening, learning, and observing how the other person reacts.
4. The longer a sale takes out of its normal sales cycle, the less likely it is to happen.
When assessing your pipeline, consider this a top guiding principle to help you weed out stagnant opportunities. While there may be an occasional exception, don’t be fooled into believing every opportunity will follow this exception.
5. The key to effective selling is ratios, not numbers.
This principle cautions about focusing on numbers over ratios. You may send 50+ emails a day, but are those emails getting a response? Do you know how many emails you must send to get one new appointment or next step? It’s not about the number of emails you’ve sent, or calls you’ve made, it’s about understanding the connection between your time, activities, and results.
6. Know when to move on.
It’s easy to become attached to a certain account or opportunity because of a “good feeling” or past relationship, but to be consistently successful in sales, you can’t depend on any one opportunity too much. You must create a pipeline full of viable prospects and learn to understand the signs of what unqualified is and move on quickly.
7. Listen more than you talk.
This sounds simple, but it’s not always easy to do. During the sales process, reps should be focused on paying attention to cues: Does the person spend a lot of time on a particular point? Do they get more animated at specific junctures and less at others? Listening more and with curiosity not only helps you better connect and understand what is being said, but also provides valuable input on how you may frame your response and navigate the conversation.
8. Be Curious. Ask about the “how” and “why” of the prospect’s organization.
Building from principle #7, your goal is to learn as much about the prospect and their organization as you can. This requires active listening and a very nuanced sales conversation. When you ask about the “how” and “why” of things, you’re likely to get more information to work with because you’ve opened the conversation to the prospect in a thought provoking way. For instance, asking about how past buying decisions were made and why will likely open up the discussion for you to gain more insight into their buying patterns and habits as well as who was involved last time.
9. Your credibility is dependent upon two factors: trust and expertise.
Establishing yourself as a credible resource to prospects and clients stems from your ability to be authentic, build rapport, and communicate your expertise. Trust is the building block of relationships. When we place our trust in others, we’re saying we believe in them and have confidence they will do what they say. This goes hand in hand with positioning your expertise in a specific subject or particular industry. Demonstrate your knowledge by sharing useful information and relevant examples focused on the prospect or customer.
10. Raise potential issues and address objections early in the relationship.
Don’t be afraid of addressing issues and objections head on. When you raise a potential problem early in the process, you’re able to relieve some pressure as well as gain a better grasp of where you stand with the prospect. For instance, let’s say you’re going on a second meeting with a hot prospect and in the first meeting they hinted at a limited budget. So, you create a one-page summary of your pricing and then share the document with them and say, “I put together some notes about how we might be able to work together…but I’m not sure the pricing is right. What do you think?” Then stop talking and let them give you their reaction.
11. Ask for a next step at the end of every meeting.
Selling is all about momentum. It’s about advancing the sale and building the relationship in a way that provides understanding and clarity to both the seller and the prospective client. Selling is all about getting a reaction and then suggesting a strategic next step in order to keep the sale moving forward. Asking for a next step will help you better gauge the dimensions of the sale, keep your pipeline more management and organized, and leads to more consistent selling.
Your personal life is guided by a set of values and principles, why should your professional sales life be any different?
Take the time now to think about your guiding principles and write them down. Refer to them any time you feel uncertain or confused, it’s a helpful way of staying grounded and focused if you’re veering off track.
This list is just a starting point to help give you some ideas, but if you’re looking for more sales resources to help you succeed, take it a step further with our Information Gathering Worksheet.
About Molly DePasquale
Molly DePasquale is the Manager of Operations and Sales Training Strategist for DMTraining. She manages the day-to-day business and training operations while helping research and develop new training programs as well as refreshing signature programs to reflect the newest sales trends, technology, and best practices. Molly utilizes her wide-range of skills to create sales and marketing assets focused on delivering value to DMT’s clients. Molly has a passion for learning and leveraging new knowledge and experiences. Outside of DMTraining, Molly is a hard core Pittsburgh sports fan, enjoys staying active by running and golfing, and unwinds by reading and playing the piano.