Aydin Mirzaee (@Aydin) is the co-founder of FluidSurveys and a graduate of the Electrical Engineering & Management program at the University of Ottawa. FluidSurveys is an online survey software currently used in over 40 countries across the globe. Their customers include government institutions, universities & colleges and Fortune 500 companies.
Most people that meet me today think I’m the team ‘sales guy’. The truth? I’m just a geek (and very proud of it!).
I started off my career as a web developer, building enterprise software and jokingly referring to myself an extroverted geek. When I started in business, I had no clue how to sell and I didn’t think I needed to pay much attention to it.
All that changed in November of 2000 when I started a web hosting company with my brother and lost a lot of money in only a few months…because I didn’t know how to sell. Someone else was supposed to be that sales guy.
Instead, I had to put my engineering hat aside and grab a new one – the infamous, contentious, intimidating sales hat.
One I never thought I’d have to wear.
So How Did I Do It?
I read books and listened to audio CD’s. A lot of them.
Here are some of my biggest and most important takeaway lessons from my learning spree:
Scare Yourself Everyday
Sales are all about rejection. You need to learn how to deal with it. You need to appreciate rejection and make it a part of your daily doings. The more you do something the less it will frighten you.
Expect to get rejected everyday. I’m not saying sit in a corner and wait to get rejected – just understand that it is likely to happen. Then, with a better appreciation for rejection, learn to ask for the deal!
People don’t like to be sold, but they love to buy – Jeffrey Gitomer
Seriously, try it. When you’re at a coffee shop, ask if they offer the “nice guy discount”? Smile and be serious. If you’re shopping at a retail shop, ask “any chance I could get a staff discount?”.
After a while you’ll have honed your communication style, mastered your mental state and nailed the delivery – you might even get the discount! Doing this everyday will keep you moving forward in the face of rejection.
Don’t Talk Yourself Out of a Sale
Everyone does it, and it’s crazy.
Your talking to a customer, they’ve decided to buy and you keep talking. Eventually, you say something that annoys the customer and they decide to bounce. The worst part? You don’t even realize just what happened.
If the customer comes to you with high intent to buy, asks a few questions and you can tell they’re ‘sold’ – then just ask for their business, quickly move on and stop talking.
Resist the urge to chatter. Some people will already know what they want, how much they’re willing to pay and that they like you. Once they have agreed to the sale, shut up and sign the agreement. Small talk can make them think twice about their decision.
Ask for Advice, Get a Customer
Most geeks break into cold sweats at the thought of a cold call. They can’t even fathom picking up the phone. Here’s a great trick: disguise it as an exploratory call for advice on your idea.
This serves two purposes:
1) You’ll learn a lot more about the customer and their needs,
2) It won’t feel like a true sales cold call.
Ask no more than 3 open ended questions, and make each one count. For example:
- What type of marketing do you invest in?
- What would an ideal customer look like for your business?
- How do you spend your day between managing the business and more strategic ideas?
Once you’ve built rapport with the caller and things are going well, you can go in for the close. Start asking questions: if you were able to deliver on a benefit, if they’d be willing to become an early user? Use their answer to get a handle on what they would think a solution like yours might be worth.
Just pick up the phone, and ask.
Remember: It’s a Numbers Game
I don’t care how charming you are – expect rejection. It comes with the sales territory.
But do try to put rejection into perspective: it’s just a numbers game. You’re actually supposed to get rejected. You need to get rejected to make this work.
Call me crazy but I used to go into my first three cold calls of the day assuming that they are going to crash and burn. It’s my shield against rejection. So when a cold call fails miserably, I just remember it’s a numbers game, pick myself up – and call the next number.
If you exchange “I failed” for “I learned what never to do again,” it’s a completely different mindset. The status of failure is up to you. – Jeffrey Gitomer
How do you create irresistible value for your prospects? Got any tips for struggling startups?Tags: Aydin Mirzaee, business development, startup advice, startup marketing