Businesses can’t survive without sales; yet many small business owners who have significant expertise in their field have limited sales skills.  In this month’s SkillBites Show, our guest, Chris Spurvey, provided some simple tactics to help attract opportunities and improve sales.

Chris is a serial entrepreneur who has built and sold businesses and now works with CEO’s, executive teams and sales leaders on the establishment, refinement, and execution of sales strategies and processes that get results. Chris is the author of the book It’s Time to Sell: Cultivating the Sales Mind-Set, which Inc. Magazine called “one of the top 18 sales books of all time.”  

As Chris explained, increasing sales starts with having the right mindset.  Mindset is a choice and the right mindset can significantly increase one’s ability to attract opportunities.  For Chris, that mindset consists of 2 elements: gratitude and expectation. Daily, he writes out what he is grateful for having come into his life.  Then he thinks about the opportunities he wants to materialize. When we expect opportunities, we attract them. It works like a magnet, energetically drawing opportunities in as we give our focus to them

One of Chris’ principles is that revenue grows through relationships.  To be effective at business development, we need to schedule time to get out there and network.  Chris has developed a networking process that increases his effectiveness at networking. The process consists of asking questions to learn more about the people he meets, and includes the following questions:

     ● Tell me about your business: where are you today; how did you get started;

     ● Where do you see your business in the future;

     ● What do you need to focus on to get there;

     ● What is going really well;

     ● What worries you.

Following these questions, Chris then provides a quick summary. Based on the answers he gets, he might make some suggestions or give something of value, such as by asking “would it be helpful if I sent you _____?  Chris tries to end each conversation with an action item – something the person will do and/or something he will do. Later, he’ll follow up with the person.

Another line of inquiry he recommends follows the acronym FORM, where F stands for family, O for occupation, R for recreation and M for motivation.  Finding out about a person’s family, job, hobbies and motivation provides good information for making a connection, which can lead to further conversations.

When the conversation turns to his interests, Chris will end his brief explanation of what he does with  the question “who do you know who has [the problem he solves]? This makes the conversation less of a sales pitch and gives the other person the opportunity to help.  Sometimes, the individual identifies himself as having the problem, or comes up with some referrals.

Sales takes time and commitment.  If you don’t take action, you won’t get results.  It may require that you get out of your comfort zone, but you need to stay within your personality. Be curious and helpful, and you’ll find yourself enjoying the sales process more and being more effective at landing new sales.