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The 12 Golden Principles of Selling

The 12 Golden Principles of Selling

Jonathan Farrington

I received a call from an ex-student this week who is designing an induction program for new recruits about to embark upon a career in sales. He asked that if I had to create the “12 golden principles of selling,” what would I come up with?

Clearly, this is not only a very subjective view, but also I found it terribly difficult to reduce my initial list of the essential rules of selling to just 12. However, mindful of the fact that this exercise is designed to provide guidance to salespeople just starting on the first rung of the ladder, here is my take on the 12 golden principles of selling.

Principle 1: Always Sell to People

This may seem obvious, but it cannot be emphasized enough: You are not selling to an organization or to a conglomerate, but to actual, real people. It is important to remember that all people are different, so you cannot sell the same way to everyone.

Second, no two sales are the same, even if they are made to the same company under similar circumstances.

To become a good salesperson, it isn’t enough to know how to sell. You must aim to become a people expert. It may sound shocking, but the best professional salespeople actually like people!

Remember, people buy from people – they always will.

Principle 2: You Have To Sell Yourself

Just as you are selling to people, you must also remember that you are not only selling and representing a product or service, but you are in effect selling yourself. When beginning a sales relationship, it is important to remember a few key aspects to representing yourself well.

First, be interesting. If potential customers are bored by you, they have less of a chance of being enthralled by any product or service you are representing.

Develop intellect. Of course, you are an intelligent person, but can you converse in an intelligent manner? Can you discuss related subjects with thoughtfulness and hold your clients’ interest?

Never be arrogant – never talk up or down to your potential clients. It’s rude and will serve only to alienate them. Respect the buyer, and they will respect you.

Along the same lines, develop your empathy levels. If you can relate to your customers’ situations authentically, it helps to build rapport. Finally, control your ego levels. A good salesperson is patient and respectful, not an egomaniac.

Principle 3: You Must Ask Questions

A good salesperson knows what questions to ask, and when. Develop your questioning techniques, always remembering the traditional rules of questioning: What? Where? When? Which? Why? Who? And how?

Continually test your understanding of the situation by asking questions and verifying that everybody’s on the right track.

Principle 4: Listen To Understand

Remember, God has given us two ears and one mouth; we should use them in that order! Successful sales professionals talk for 20 percent of the time and listen for 80 percent of the time. It’s crucial for new salespeople to develop their active-listening skills.

Principle 5: Features Must Be Linked to Benefits

It’s a standard sales component, but the features-and-benefits connection bears repeating and reminding: Features are common, but benefits are personal and specific. When describing the product or service you are selling, use “link phrases” when outlining the benefits of the features you are showing. Say, "Such and such is a feature of this service, which means that . . .’ Remember to be specific.

Principle 6: Sell the Results – Paint a Picture

You want the outcome for your prospect to be rosy, but you need to convey that. Discover your prospect’s “prime desires,” and personalize the benefits to him or her. Describe the end results of the transaction and how it will improve the life of your prospect.