Before we start, let’s just make one thing clear. There is no, definitive rule book on how to close every-single-sales-deal-I’ll-ever-land-in-the-future. It’s just not possible; there will always be those that despite your championed sales book ’s efforts, are always just an arm’s length out of reach. But this is the beautiful nature of our industry – every new deal brings a slightly different challenge than its predecessor. Whether it’s the client’s temperament, office environment or acute sense of smell (ask me about that another time) not one deal will be the same.

Therefore, consider my 5W’s of selling to be more a guideline than step-by-step process and remember, half the fun is discovering what works for you and what doesn’t. Stay natural, work these ideas into your portfolio and I’ll guarantee you’ll be on the right track.

WHO?

Knowing who you are trying to market or sell your product to might seem obvious, but it’s imperative not to be overlooked. If you are in the early stages of negotiation, or are perhaps yet to officially meet with the client, make sure to do some background research. Not only will this help paint a picture of your client, but also surprise them with insight about their brand on your very first visit.

It’s also vital to know who (I mean exactly WHO) you are dealing with. If your initial point of contact was over the phone, it’s likely the person you are talking to isn’t responsible for making the key sales decisions. Find out who is, why and how you can help get the ball rolling.

WHAT?

If you don’t know your product inside out, then you shouldn’t be selling it – it’s as simple as that. As a salesperson, you represent the face, values and ideas of the brand to either the businesses you are dealing with or individual consumers, so make you sure you get it right. If you don’t have a complete understanding, how can you possibly convince them to go into business with you?

So, be ready with answers before they’ve had time to think of any questions. Why is your product the perfect fit for their business? Why should they choose you over the competition? Are you already working with an industry leader in that field?

WHEN?

This extends beyond seasonal use of your product (I mean, if you sell Easter eggs, it should be fairly obvious when to reach out to retailers…) to getting to know your customer. What day, week, month or even time of year are they more likely to buy? If January is a busy month for your client, then make sure you have the resources ready to meet their demands. Not only does this show insight on your part, but also helps you manage your time, or that of your sales team more effectively.

WHERE?

Even if you’re operating off of a shoestring budget without the means for the 5-star caviar and cuvée (which I assume is most of us) it doesn’t mean you can’t suit-up. There are plenty of cosy cafes, busy bars and popular restaurants that certainly beat the office without breaking the bank. It’s a small detail, but setting a good impression goes a long way in establishing real, lasting relationship with your customers.

WHY?

Why is your product essential for their company? This is probably the most fundamental sales query of all. Get to know this inside out, upside down – whichever way you want it, but remember, this is not a product audition. Make sure to reflect how this will benefit their company, specifically, using examples. Yes, your product may be the best on the market, but it doesn’t give you license to go storming off, glorifying its features to anyone who’ll listen to you – especially if they’re not relevant to the client. Keep it tight, keep it succinct and you’ll soon see the benefits.

Please take into account that this was simply designed as food for thought, to provide a solid base for you to build your own sales repertoire upon. As Sam Walton, the founder of Walmart once said “The secret of successful retailing is to give your customers what they want.” Easy right?!

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