I was 17 and selling kitchen knives in people’s homes when I learned the 7 basic steps to sales. With these 7 steps to sales, I became the top sales person in my local office in central Pennsylvania. At 18, I moved to New Jersey for a summer, opened my own office, recruited, trained, and managed 60 college sales representatives mostly older than me, and oversaw over $100,000 in product sales with these 7 steps.
Sales is in everything. Even in non-business related careers. Teachers have to sell their students in the classroom on why they should pay attention. Non-profits need to sell their mission to the public. As a boss, you have to sell your employees or clients on why they should be excited to work with you and your organization.
I’ve used these 7 steps to sales throughout my life including planning and executing my Kickstarter to launch our women’s apparel brand which raised over $45,000 in 30 days.
Here’s my guiding framework to the 7 steps to sales:
7 Steps to Sales
1. Rapport. Build rapport with your target audience. Would you rather do business with someone you like or don’t like? That’s an obvious answer. So be likeable! How to be likeable?
Humans are creatures of connections and find comfort in commonalities. Try to find something in common with your counterpart within the first 15 seconds or less of meeting. It can be a mutual hobby, friend, or love for travel. Whatever it is! Finding commonalities is key to breaking the ice.
2. Credibility. Establish credibility. Who are you? Why should they listen to you? What track record of success can you demonstrate to establish your authority on the subject matter?
Perhaps it’s mentioning clients you already work with, the number of users or downloads from the app you created, or years of experience in your field.
For my Kickstarter, I established credibility by stating I studied patternmaking in Spain. I showed that visually with photos and in my campaign video.
3. Problem. Present the problem. People need to be told what the problem is. They are bombarded with tons of ideas, products and messages every day. Your job is to help them recognize the problem and bring it to the forefront of their thoughts.
In my Kickstarter example, I accomplished this by showing the problems caused by not having pockets in women’s clothes.
4. Solution. Build value for your solution. This is when you present your product or solution. How to build value? Use value adding phrases.
For example, in the lead up to my Kickstarter campaign, I posted on social media that we’re using invisible YKK zippers which are 3x more expensive than regular zippers but it’s worth it because they are higher in quality.
People asked me if my dresses are going to cost $400 or more. They don’t. But it’s good they thought that. Why? Because this means they understand the value in my products which relates to point #6.
5. Urgency. Highlight urgency. This means offering incentives to act now. The truth is, people are busy and need to be motivated to take some sort of action NOW or it’ll be pushed to their back burner.
How can you highlight urgency? Offer specials or discounts by subscribing, purchasing (or whatever action you want your potential client to take) NOW.
In my case, it was to save over 50% by purchasing on Kickstarter during the campaign.
6. Pricing. Present prices. You must have conviction behind your own pricing. If you don’t believe that your product or service is worth the price you put on it, no one else will.
Here is the general psychological formula behind pricing that helped me sell $100,000 in cutlery when I was 18.
If Price > Value, then no sale
If Price = Value, then potential sale
If Price < Value, then guaranteed sale
Let’s flesh out price and value.
If your client sees the value as being greater than the price tag on your product or service, you’re guaranteed a sale.
Think if someone was selling you a brand new shiny Lamborghini for $2,000 USD. Would you buy it? Of course! Because the value of a Lamborghini is worth more than $2,000 USD. In this case, price < value so you have a guaranteed sale.
Now let’s say someone was trying to sell you a beat up 70’s station wagon for $200,000 USD. Would you buy it? Of course NOT! Because the value of that station wagon is worth less than $200,000 USD. In this case, price > value so you do not have a sale.
If perceived value equals the price then you have a potential sale. Think if you saw a 2016 Honda Accord on sale for $15,000 USD and you were in the market for a car. It looks good, runs well, and fits your budget. You might buy it or you might not.
As you can see, the nirvana of sales is to focus on building actual value of your product or service so it is always greater than the price tag.
7. Close. Ask for the order. This is the epitome of your business and often the scariest part. But, you must actually ask for the order to get the order!
In direct, in-person sales, we often assume the sale. For example, if you have a physical product, you can assume the sale be asking closing questions such as “would you like your (product name) in black or red (or whatever color options you have)?”
When I was selling cutlery, one of my closing questions was, “would you like to pay in full or take advantage of our 5-pay program?”. Here, I am assuming the order and asking my customer how she/he would like to pay. Those questions helped me close orders over $3,000 at one time.
For my Kickstarter video, I asked my audience at the end to “join me by pledging and sharing this campaign”. Think of this as a call-to-action to help guide your audience in their decision making process.