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How to Master the Art of Selling

Selling is an area of business that many people dislike, whether it’s telemarketing or face-to-face selling. It takes quite a bit of skill to become an effective salesman but through developing a particular mindset and following some important advice you can begin to master it.


One of the most important attributes to have when selling is confidence – you must sound and appear confident. Remember that many of the most confident people aren’t inwardly confident, yet they can show confidence on the outside. Show this outward confidence and it’s amazing how potential customers will listen to what you have to say.

Know your Business

There’s nothing worse than a salesman who doesn’t fully understand what he’s selling. As Krik Tatnall, an account executive at, says about his business:

“Knowledge matters more than you can imagine. When you see someone who doesn’t really know his business trying to fake it, you get that message very quickly.”

Make sure that you know your product, business and industry inside out. Also, don’t neglect your competitors – customers are likely to ask why they should purchase your product or service over those of your competitors.


Research suggests that you have less than 30 seconds to interact with someone before they form an opinion of you. Over the phone you have even less time, 10 to 15 seconds, before someone forms a lasting impression of you.

For face-to-face selling having a professional appearance is vital. It’s best to be over-dressed than to be dressed too casually – the last thing you want is to end up standing next to one of your competitors, with them wearing a suit and you wearing a casual shirt.

For selling over the phone the first 15 seconds are vital so make sure you know what you intend to say. Getting words mixed up or sounding hesitant will result in a bad first impression, something that is very hard to change.


Before cold-calling a prospect it may be beneficial to first send a mailing and follow this up with a call. However, there are some common misconceptions when it comes to doing this, particularly regarding its effectiveness, so when following up with a call take into account the following advice:

Most of the time people don’t read sales letters.
Therefore don’t expect people to know the details of your product or company, let alone your company name.

Don’t start with, “I sent you a letter. Did you get it?”
There’s a huge misconception that sending a sales letter beforehand makes starting a conversation easier. It doesn’t. You’ll almost always get one of the following replies, “What letter? What was it about? What are you selling?”

Sales letters make you talk about yourself.
Effective cold-calling works through the caller focusing on benefits and how they can solve a problem for the customer. Through referring to a sales letter you’ll end up talking about yourself and your company – that’s of no interest to the prospect.

Numbers, Numbers, Numbers

Rejection will happen, but don’t take it personally. Too many people focus on this rejection, let it affect them, and often end up making contact with fewer prospects than they otherwise would. This is something to avoid. You will receive set backs but the more people you call the more leads or sales you’ll make. It’s a numbers game – hit the high numbers and success will almost always follow.

Build a Sales Funnel

Don’t think that you have to make a sale the first time that you speak to a prospect. Many telemarketers know this and rarely attempt to generate sales, but instead focus on leads. A lead may be anything from obtaining permission to email over some more information to organising a meeting in person.

Identify your sales channel and work on moving prospects along it towards the goal of a final sale, rather than trying to obtain a sale at the first step.

Know How Far You’ll Negotiate

Never call a prospect or attend a sales meeting without knowing how far you’ll negotiate. You should know your starting point, the point at which you won’t drop below, and a mid-way point which you’ll aim for.

When negotiating never interrupt your customer – let them finish and then respond to their proposition. If it’s unacceptable don’t reject it out of hand. Instead try negotiating the offer.

Far too many salesmen focus on the price as a means to negotiate. If it’s your business the chances are that you can add in extra services or support as an alternative to lowering the price.

The Sales Mindset

Finally, seasoned sellers talk of adopting a ‘sales mindset’ – this is something that you should look to do. Don’t approach selling with dread, as an area where rejections are commonplace. Selling should be a challenge. You should enjoy closing deals, making sales, and each rejection should be looked on as a result – you’re one step closer to meeting your next customer.

Related Articles:

How to Write Effective Sales Letters
How to Close a Sale
The Importance of Sales Targets
The Perfect Sales Pitch
Characteristics to Look for when Recruiting Sales Staff
Where to Find Sales Staff