What is the first rule in sales? Sales is one of the few professions that don’t have a lot of rules.
There are plenty of selling strategies and best practices you can use.
As with any profession, knowing how and when to apply the right strategy is important.
But at the end of the day, there is only one rule.
It wasn’t until later in my career that the first rule in sales really became clear to me.
Today, it’s the first thing I tell all my clients to focus on.
Is There More Than One Rule in Sales?
If you were to ask me early in my sales career what the first rule in sales was, I would have listed off at least a dozen different responses.
I often hear similar responses from my coaching clients, confused with what the golden rule of selling is.
Their responses often include:
1. Treat the customer as you would want to be treated.
Consider how you would want to be treated by a sales professional, and then treat your customer in the same manner. Be polite, not pushy; be helpful; and most of all, make the customer feel comfortable.
2. Don’t forget to close.
If you are good at talking, sometimes the biggest challenge in making a sale is closing. Be prepared in every discussion to move towards the close.
3. Have a goal going into every meeting.
Enter every meeting with a clear goal in mind. What would you like to accomplish during the meeting? Being clear on your goal will ensure you avoid wasting your time, or that of your prospect.
4. End every meeting with a clear next step.
Never end a meeting without a clear next step. You are the only one who understands your sales process and what is required from your prospect. Be clear and communicate what that next step is for you and the prospect.
5. If the customer says “no,” ask for a referral.
You can’t win every sale, but with each rejection comes new opportunity. When a prospect decides not to buy from you, it’s been proven that they often carry some guilt in saying no. Capitalize on the opportunity by asking if there is someone else they think might appreciate what you are selling.
6. Remember everything you’ve been taught.
When I ask what the first rule of sales is, the response I receive is often to “remember everything you’ve been taught.” This may lead to a successful career in sales, but it’s not the first rule you need to follow.
7. Listen before you speak.
Many people who enter the sales profession believe that selling is the result of being comfortable talking. In fact, it’s the opposite. We need to listen to our prospect if we want to understand where to direct the conversation.
8. Ask probing questions.
What better way to learn about your prospect than to ask probing questions? Using questions that begin with “why” or “what” are always great tools. “Why is now the best time to make this investment?” or “What would this solution provide for your company?”
9. Seek to understand your customer.
Spending a bit of time planning before each prospect discussion is a great best practice. Getting reacquainted with where you left off in the conversation will help you identify what your customer is looking for and how you can address their needs.
10. Be different than your competitors.
The internet and technology in general have made customers more educated. They will often come to a meeting already knowing who the competitors are, and what the pricing should be. To get and keep the attention of your prospect, you need to be different than your competitors. Stand out to get the sale.
11. Solicit objections.
Don’t wait for objections to be raised. Instead, ask for objections. “Is now the right time to move forward with this purchase?” or “Does this investment meet with your expectations?” By soliciting objections, you demonstrate readiness and avoid delays in closing the deal.
12. Be respectful of your customer’s time.
Today, time is a valuable resource. If you want to stand out from competitors and move the sale forward, always be respectful of your customer’s time. They’ll appreciate you for it, and it’ll help you to capture more sales meetings in your day.
Reading this list, I’m sure there were a few of these possible rules that you’ve heard before.
Maybe some even seemed like the golden rule in selling.
They’re important, but not the first rule in sales.
The First Rule of Sales
Sales is a numbers game.
The responses above all presume you have someone to talk to.
Which in turn is where the first rule in sales comes from.
Always be prospecting.
That’s right, if you don’t prospect, you won’t have anyone to speak to.
In which case, all the responses I mentioned earlier won’t apply.
What can you do to ensure you are always prospecting?
- Understand your sales math (i.e., how many calls you need to hit your sales targets).
- Set aside time to research new prospects on a weekly basis.
- Have targets for the number of people you will reach out to each day.
- Hit your targets by making all calls early in the day (when you and your prospects are fresh).
- Document your efforts in a CRM software and use reminders for prompts to follow up.
- Use a follow-up campaign to automate the process of moving prospects forward.
Applying the First Rule in Sales
Without prospects, there is no opportunity to sell.
If you want to have success in sales, you need to be constantly prospecting for new opportunities.
This is where the first rule of sales applies.
Start by setting up your prospecting schedule above.
Watch your sales results go through the roof!
© Shawn Casemore 2021. All Rights Reserved.