Every entrepreneur, like it or not, is in the business of sales. While the skill of persuasion comes naturally to some, the more introverted entrepreneurs of the world don’t always have an easy time selling products, closing deals or pitching ideas. Even if you’re not on the front lines of your business’s sales team, if you’re an entrepreneur, developing sales skills is critical to the success of your business. Selling is about a lot more than getting people to buy products – it can help you get your team’s buy-in, get your business featured in the media, help you secure funds from investors, or even sign a strategic partnership with another company.

If you’re interested in developing your sales skills, here are five secret methods to keep in your back pocket for the next time you need to turn a hesitant “no” into a confident “yes!”

1. Overcome Your Fear With Knowledge

Does the thought of chatting with a potential customer on the phone make you sweat? Does the prospect of pitching your idea to an audience of potential investors or partners give you stage fright?

There’s a trick to overcoming fear. Keith Yackey, who teaches Real Estate investors how to raise private money, says that “the one thing that holds us back for sure more than anything is fear… Fear is from the unknown, and I believe that fear ultimately stems from not knowing… The way to overcome fear in its entirety is through knowledge, is through understanding. That’s how you conquer fear.”

Arming yourself with knowledge can really help make your next phone call with a hot lead or presentation for important decision-makers feel a lot less intimidating. Do your homework before the call – know the product you’re selling inside and out; research the company your lead works for; familiarize yourself with your customers’ most common pain points. The more you know, the less you’ll have to be afraid of when you’re on the spot.

2. Don’t Forget to Sell “Free” Things

When most of us think about selling, we associate it with persuading someone to buy something. However, even if you’re giving something away for free, don’t forget – you still have to sell it. Master copywriter Alyson Lex reminds entrepreneurs how important it is to sell free offers.

She says, “Every time you publish a landing page that asks your visitors to opt in for your freebie, you’re making a sale. Yes, that’s right – you’re making a sale even though you’re not asking for a single penny. Information is a form of currency, just like money is. Do you spend enough time “selling” your free offers?”

3. Copy Can Kill Sales

The sales process begins long before your phone call does… it starts with the copy on your Landing Pages and website, so it’s critical to aim your copy specifically at your ideal buyers. Alyson Lex says, “The harsh truth is that if you don’t tailor your copy specifically to your audience, you may as well tell them up front to close their wallets and keep their money… because they’re not going to read anything you’ve got to say. I’m going to say that again:  If you don’t tailor your copy and your marketing to the specific target audience of people that you’ve identified that should actually want to buy your product or service…  you won’t get the attention on your offer that you need to get in order to make sales.”

4. Choose the Right Moment, Then Ask For Permission to Help

Do you hate the feeling that you’re being overly pushy when talking to potential customers? It turns out, there’s actually a great way you can avoid that – get their permission to make your pitch.

It’s easier than you’d think. Startup founder and digital strategist Nathalie Lussier suggests this tactic: “Ask if they’d like to know how you can help. This is the magic question, because it allows you to talk about what you offer without feeling like a sleazy sales pitch. If they say yes, you can talk about how you can help and how they can work with you. Otherwise, no problem, you can end the conversation.”

Want to say goodbye for good to that icky feeling associated with sales? Get the timing right, then ask them if they want to know what you bring to the table.

5. Be Prepared for Handling Objections

Nothing kills a deal faster than flubbing your response when a potential buyer brings up an objection for which you don’t have an answer. To avoid the awkwardness of this situation, start getting familiar with the most common objections out there, and practice answering them.

Here’s Nathalie Lussier’s method for handling objections: “After you tell someone your price or ask for the sale, you might hear, “Yes, but…” The trick to handling objections is to be prepared. Most people have the same objections: time, money, and is it going to work for me? Come up with answers for these common objections, and write down any new ones you uncover.”

About Megan Monroe

Associate Editor Megan Monroe is a graduate of Santa Barbara’s Westmont College where she studied Philosophy and Communications. After working for several local small businesses (where she gained firsthand experience with the frustration of manual segmentation and follow-up), Megan joined the ONTRAPORT Growth Team. When she isn’t writing marketing copy, social media posts or educational guides for entrepreneurs, she enjoys taking advantage of the Central Coast's amazing wineries and cooking without following a recipe.