SCORE

You started a small business knowing you’d make most of your revenue by selling your products or services. But you say to friends, “I hate selling. I’m not a good salesperson.”

So, what are you doing in small business?

Actually, your apprehension about selling is common, even for people running shops or restaurants where every dollar counts toward the bottom line. You can succeed in business even if you don’t like being “salesy.”

If you can answer the three questions below, you can be a great salesperson.

Can you ease customer pain points?

What problem does your business solve? At a cell phone repair shop, you might specialize in fixing screens on smashed smartphones. That’s an easy one: you’re there to make repairs and restore peace of mind.

Sometimes, determining what problem you solve is a little trickier. If you run a restaurant, sure, you solve the problem of someone being hungry on Saturday night. But you also provide a social gathering space or perhaps a low-key watering hole.

Do you think about how to solve problems each time you meet a customer or client? If you think about your business from a customer’s point of view, it doesn’t feel like selling anymore. It feels like you’re a problem solver. And small business owners are pretty good at solving problems.

Are you a welcoming, friendly business owner?

You don’t need to hound customers to get them to purchase something. You just need to say “hello.” You’ve probably been put off in the past by salespeople who have asked for your entire life story the moment you walked into their business.

Some customers have no idea what problem they’re trying to solve, or whether you can help them do it. They might just want to get an idea of what you have for sale or what services you can provide. Be gentle. A hard sell doesn’t create a relationship with a customer — it just chases them out the door.

Start with the basics: A warm greeting and an invitation to ask questions of you or your staff. If the customer lingers, ask about their needs. Let a relationship bloom from there. You may not sell the entire store to them on their first visit, but they’re sure to remember a pleasant initial interaction. 

Can you share your expertise quickly and easily?

How familiar are you with your entire range of products or services? If you specialize in a rapidly changing industry or niche, you may feel less confident in your knowledge of some of your newer products.

But no one said studying stopped once you got out of school. Like a server studies a new menu or a dancer rehearses new choreography, you may have to routinely study what your business has to offer.

If you work with a team, it can be helpful to discuss new features or review reasons why customers return certain products. This examination and intimate knowledge of what you offer makes it easier for you to find solutions to your customers’ or clients’ problems.

Need to practice your sales skills? Talk to a SCORE mentor about how to best represent your products or services.