by Ernest O’Dell – Questar TeleCommunications, Questar PC and The Guerrilla Internet Marketing Institute
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
“The most valuable skill in ANY business is the ability to sell.” PERIOD! If you don’t learn how to close a sale, you’ll starve. If you learn the skill, then you will earn more money than anybody else. Just ask people like Donald Trump or Joe Vitale… or the late, great “infomercial king” Billy Mays.
I’m talking about a simple skill that, if you learn and apply it, will ensure that you NEVER go hungry. This skill has enabled me to successfully negotiate multi-million-dollar deals. Plus, it has given me a quiet assurance, a pit bull type of confidence in myself. The skill I’m talking about is knowing how to close a sale. Basically, all it takes is asking your prospect one simple question…
It doesn’t matter what you’re selling or whether you’re doing it in person, on radio/TV, in an e-mail newsletter, or via direct mail. You can do it through a toll free phone presentation. But, when it’s time to close the sale, you ask your prospect…
“What can I do to make this work for you? How can I make this easy for you to pull the trigger on this deal?”
I know that sounds like a used-car pitch, but let me explain the logic behind it…
The best salespeople in the world know that in order to make a sale, you have to first understand what your prospect wants or needs. When you really understand what inside your prospect’s mind, and what it’s going to take to “make it work” for your prospect, you’ll be able to craft an irresistible offer.
How do you find out what it will take to make a deal work for your prospects?
Most of the time… they’ll tell you. And, most of the time, it will be something that you can deliver. If not, then be honest with them and tell them. They’ll appreciate your honesty and will respect you.
What happens if they ask you for something outlandish?
Well, okay: in some cases, you’ll get an occasional prospect who isn’t a serious buyer. Or they’re not the “qualified” buyer to begin with. That’s how you “weed them out” —by asking that one question.
Don’t waste any time with them. Be gracious and polite, but say something like, “Sorry. The best I can do is…” and let ’em walk away. It’s better to let them walk away so they don’t become “Time Vampires” and drain you. There are plenty of other prospects out there.
Once you understand how to apply the “What can I do to make this work for you?” technique, new opportunities will begin to open up for you—whether you use it to sell your own products or someone else’s.
But selling someone else’s products is the opportunity I want to tell you about today.
Getting Started as a Freelance Sales Professional
No matter what happens in this economy, independent sales reps, and especially closers, will always be needed. Getting started as a freelance sales rep is a lot easier than you might think. Real estate, information and network technology, building contractors, direct-mail services, medical equipment and supplies, pharmaceuticals, vacation rentals—you name it—these are just a few of the industries that desperately need independent salespeople.
Identify the markets that interest you, and start digging for independent sales opportunities.
Very few companies will turn you down if you tell them you can bring them business.
What’s in It for You?
To survive, just about every business needs people who can make sales. And most business owners are receptive to freelancers, because it means less “out of pocket” expenses for them. They don’t have to provide freelancers with such things as health insurance, a pension plan, and paid vacation and sick time. It’s sort of like being an affiliate for a company, whether it’s Internet based or not.
The downside to working as a freelancer is that you have to forgo the benefits that usually go along with a salaried position. The upside is that your commissions usually far exceed what you could make with a “regular” sales job. On top of that, you have the freedom to work on your own terms.
One of the main benefits you will enjoy working as an independent contractor is being able to work at your own pace, without management breathing down your neck or poking their heads into your office whenever they feel like it.
To this day, I still sell for over 50 different suppliers as a VAR (Value Added Reseller). A “Value Added Reseller” is just another term for in Independent Contractor, Freelance Sales Engineer, or an Affiliate. I began selling telecommunications products and services for a variety of companies over 30 years ago, and have earned more in commissions than they could have paid me in a salary. And, frankly, I would much prefer it that way.
When I started, I had several other business ventures going at the same time, so I did it only part-time, one or two days a week. But my first commission check was all the proof I needed to know that freelance selling was for me.
Did I sell all of the vendor’s products and services at the same time? No. But I had them at my “fingertips” if I ever needed them as a solution to my prospect’s needs. And that’s one of the things you will like about all this freelance stuff: the independence to “pick and choose” what you want, and what your customers need at the time.
Even today, I only promote 3 or 4 “verticals” at any one given time. A “vertical” is just a product or service offering that has an established market for it.
For example, I promote the Virtual PBX and Mobile Collaboration solution to companies that have a mobile workforce, or who have people working remote through telecommuting. Even if the company has people spread out all over the country, they can have one central, toll free number, and assign their staff—around the country—with an extension. That way, the company doesn’t have to print up a bunch of stationery with different phone numbers: just one toll free number with the extension of the employee.
And, the same system can be used by the small, home based entrepreneur to give them the appearance of a Fortune 500 company, thereby leveling the playing field. In these times, “presence” is image, and image can be established and perceived with a Virtual Office.
If you’ve been hit by this recession and have landed on some hard turf because of the economy, you might want to look into supplementing your present job with some part time work. That “part time” work doesn’t necessarily mean you have to work a tradition job, working for someone else on a W-2, but perhaps as a freelance.
You might do that as an affiliate for an Internet based company, or for a local supplier in your town.
Let me give you an example:
I had an old friend of mine in Houston, Texas years ago who sold restaurant equipment for one of the stores in town. But, he wasn’t an employee. He made a commission off of everything he sold from their inventory, whether it was a new gas oven, or a half dozen food storage bins.
Sometimes Sam would sell a case or two of automatic dishwashing solution to a restaurant, and then he would put them on his “route” and call list, and follow up with them about once a week or so.
Sam had been a Viet Nam vet in the Army, and had gotten shot up pretty bad in the war, but he managed to come home with a determination to “make it” —even when nobody was giving him a “break” by hiring him. He faced a lot of discrimination from employers and interviews because of his war injuries, but he had a personality that out-shined any physical challenges he had.
You see, Sam was in a wheelchair, and had no legs. (Yes, they used land mines and punji sticks in Viet Nam.) Landing in a punji trap was worse than getting your legs blown off with an explosive device, believe it or not. A punji trap was like a “dead-fall” bear trap. It had stakes in the ground with the sharpened ends pointing up, so that if you fell through the hidden mat on top, you would basically impale yourself and die a slow death. Even if you were saved by your buddies, and you were lucky enough to get to a MEDIVAC, you could still contract an deadly infection from the stuff the enemy put on the tips of those stakes.
Land mines, like IED’s, would just explode and it would be “all over” but the music. However, falling into a dead fall trap could be a slow and painful death. Not too many soldiers survived a dead fall into a punji pit.
Sam always looked at it on the bright side: he said, “I was one of the lucky ones. I got blown up instead of ‘stuck up.’”
I guess that’s one positive way to look at it.
You see, Sam was a “Combat Engineer.” Not a transferable skill into civilian life. Nobody in Corporate America was looking for soldiers. And, certainly, nobody was looking for “soldiers of fortune” who didn’t have any legs.
However, he still had to overcome a lot of odds and a lot of prejudice. A lot of Viet Nam veterans weren’t shown the respect they deserved. They weren’t treated as well as many of our veterans are nowadays. Many Viet Nam veterans came home to slurs and epithets, curses and slanders. They were insulted and called all sorts of names.
For some people like Sam, who had no way of “fighting back” they had to either make the “best of it” or learn how to fight back against the prejudice. Sam did both.
Eventually Sam made enough money selling other people’s “stuff” that he bought himself a new van with a wheelchair lift built into the side of it. He still, to this day delivers his own goods and is looking to retire someday.
Why do I tell you all that? Why did I bother to tell you about Sam, a physically challenged Viet Nam veteran who overcame seemingly insurmountable odds? Not to get your sympathy, because Sam would never want it.
No, I told you about Sam to let you know that if you have enough “gumption” to get out there and “make your case” and close the sale, you don’t need to be a flashy, handsome dude, or gorgeous lady in a suit, to make a living as an independent contractor, or freelance salesman.
You don’t even need the full use of your legs: Sam certainly didn’t have it. But he didn’t let that stop him. And he didn’t let rejection and the “No Factor” stop him either.
I guess, the one other factor that goes along with being able to close a sale is…
That “stick-to-it-iveness” if I can call it that.
Sometimes that puts you into charting your own course and sailing off into “uncharted” waters. For some people, re-inventing themselves is scary: especially if you have a mortgage, 3 or 4 kids, and bills up to your neck.
When I worked in Corporate America, I still held down one or two “extra” jobs. Sometimes they were part time jobs in a convenience store or a hardware store. Sometimes I did some landscaping and gardening on the weekends. I did whatever it took to “pay the bills.”
Did bills always get paid on time?
No, not all the time. But I never went hungry.
Well… once. But that was a long, long time ago, and a whole subject for another article.
Suffice it to say, it was a learning experience for me. And what I learned from it was that if I found out what people needed and delivered the solution to them, I would never go hungry again.
And I haven’t… gone hungry, that is…
So, if you’re facing the prospect of downsizing, or a foreclosure, or have already gone through that, don’t give up: don’t despair. There’s plenty to do and all you have to do is find the needs and then supply the solution.
Look into being your own person and selling for someone. It may just be the perfect fit for you.
To download and read this article in PDF format, click on the link below.
The One Skill That Generates Billions of Dollars in Revenue – GREEN BAR.pdf