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There is a science and an art to face-to-face selling.  So many amateur salespeople fail to observe the basics of selling and end up losing both prospects and existing customers.  People ask me about the ‘secrets’ of selling all the time -- but really there is no magic secret -- just a lot of common sense and a few basic rules.

Professional, successful salespeople are highly trained to sell effectively and are well versed in these basic rules.  Whether you are selling face-to-face or online from a website, these rules can be followed to give yourself the best chance of success.

Consider the following:

Look professional

If you want to sell, in person, or through a website -- you have to look professional.  Nobody will buy from you if you looked like a tramp, and nobody will take your website seriously if it is full of grammatical errors and looks a mess.  First impressions count for a lot and customers may well buy from you based on their initial gut feelings.

Professional salespeople are well groomed and confident and looked like professionals that can be trusted.  Your website has to do the job of a professional salesperson, so make sure your site is high-quality, with well chosen words and pictures and has all the attributes expected of a high-ranking professional business.

Sound professional

Professional salespeople think very carefully about the words they use and about their sales patter before they start talking to prospective customers.  They have a particular vocabulary and a script, which is intended to guide a prospective customer towards the closing of the sale.  The copy on your website should be no different.

Think carefully about what you say on your website and how you relate to visitors and customers alike.  Get your sales pitch right and relate to people in the most appropriate way for your business.  For example, if you are selling gardening aids for the elderly you might address them differently than if you are selling rock music to teenagers.  This might sound obvious but it often overlooked and it's so easy to offend people and turn them off you and your business forever.

One way to get this right is to create a clear picture of your customers in your mind and write your website content as if you were speaking to your customer in person.  Think about how a professional salesperson would address your prospects and adapt your sales pitch to suit your products and services.

Build trust

Professional salespeople build trust with their prospective customers by getting to know them and creating a good rapport.  This can take time, but it is time well spent when you consider that a loyal customer base is the foundation of your business, and that most businesses rely on repeat business as their main source of income.

If you are selling online, building trust is just as important.  It can take much longer to create a good rapport with your Internet customer than if you had a personal, face-to-face relationship with them, but it can be done.  Invest time and energy into getting to know your customers and giving them something worthwhile before you start selling to them -- just as you would if you were presenting to a client in person.

Shows your customers that you care about them -- take the time to find out what they want and need rather than pushing the sale so that you can make money asap.  Selling is still a way of providing a service for your customer and it's as well to remember that -- your best competitors certainly will...

Know when to shut up

Even the most experienced professional salesperson can go on and on and risk losing their customer -- even when they are interested in buying from you!

Be sensitive to when the moment is right to close the sale and avoid boring your customer with lots of irrelevant detail, repetition or boring chitchat.  This can be difficult to judge when writing sales copy for a website or sales letter.  After all, a professional salesperson has the advantage, in a face-to-face situation, of being able to read their client's body language and the subtle signals that show they are ready to buy.

The trick is to closely follow the rules of writing sales copy (I've covered this in other articles) and give your prospects plenty of opportunities to click the ‘order now’ button at strategic points throughout the sales copy.

Another tactic is to test and keep testing your sales copy -- get lots of people to read it and get them to evaluate your website with a truthful, critical eye.  Get as much feedback as you possibly can, so that you can judge when to shut up and grab that critical moment when it is just right to stop presenting and close the sale.

Be genuine

Successful professional salespeople are enthusiastic about their products and services and they genuinely believe in them.  People can spot a fake from a mile off and if you are trying to sell something that you know is poor quality, poor value, or is overrated, then you are likely to get found out -- if not before the sale, then certainly afterwards.  You risk losing not only your customer and any future sales but your reputation.

The most successful sales (and repeat sales) come when you are selling a quality product or service that you believe in wholeheartedly...

Good luck!