The third most important skill in business – the ability to sell to a customer (Part 4)

___Seize the moment when it’s offered.

Over the past few years, I’ve talked to you a lot about the most important skills in business. First and foremost – the capacity to READ. Second, and completely essential: the ability to work in numbers (data). Now in the current series we’re looking at the third most important: Every entrepreneur must be a good salesperson!

Some of you have pointed out that if an entrepreneur doesn’t have the ability to sell and market, no matter what other skills he or she might have, the business will sooner or later be doomed. Sadly, it’s really true. You must never be fearful or shy or apologetic about selling.

Let’s recap this series so far: Part 1) Intro: Every entrepreneur must be a good salesperson; Part 2) Presentation is extremely important: Always present with passion and excellence; Part 3) Study to show yourself approved: Accounting, finance, economics, sales and marketing are the foundational skills for any entrepreneur.

Now let’s get to Part 4: Close the deal!

A young real estate agent was showing a couple around a house.

“Why don’t we start in the main lounge,” he said.

As soon as they entered the room, the woman exclaimed in delight, “I really love this room! Wow, it’s amazing!”

“Let’s buy this house,” the woman said to her husband. “This is what I’m looking for!”

Excited, the young agent said, “Come, I’ll show you the rest of the house.”

Then he added, “I have houses even better than this to show you!”

He hurried them to see the rest of the house. After that he drove them to see some other houses, and encouraged them to call him the next day.

They didn’t call him, and he did not get the sale.

Explaining his disappointment to an older more experienced sales agent, he was totally surprised when the other man laughed at him:

“You should have closed the deal on the first house. When she said ‘I love this room,’ that’s the point where you start working to close a deal!”

Many people just don’t know how to close a sale. I see it all the time. I’m always watching the sales techniques of people I meet every day, even in shops.

You must know when you have made a sale, and move quickly to close. Don’t keep going in circles!

# The customer is the one who is choosing, not the seller. So there was no point in telling them he had other better houses.

There’s a story told about a businessman who was negotiating a multimillion dollar deal in a restaurant. As the negotiations proceeded late into the night, and got to a crucial stage, the waiter came to them and said, “We are about to close, sir.” The man looked around and realised that they were the only people left in the restaurant.

He got up and said to the waiter, “I want to see the manager immediately.”

Seeing the manager he asked, “How much do you make in one night?”

“$2000, sir.”

“Okay, I will give you $25,000, and one week’s wages for each of your staff if you keep things open.”

They shook hands. The man went back to the table and continued the negotiations, until he closed the sale.

# Close the deal! Tomorrow it may not be there. There are always things that can happen that can completely change the trajectory of a deal.

# A good salesperson knows when to seize the moment, and move to close.

To be continued. . .

by 15 Replies

About Strive Masiyiwa

Strive Masiyiwa is the Founder and Executive Chairman of Econet, a diversified global telecommunications group with operations and investments in over 15 countries. His business interests also include renewable energy, financial services, media and hospitality. Masiyiwa serves on a number of international boards, including Unilever, Rockefeller Foundation, the Council on Foreign Relations’ Global Advisory Board, the Africa Progress Panel, the UN Secretary General's Advisory Board for Sustainable Energy, Morehouse College, Hilton Foundation's Humanitarian Prize Jury and the Kenjin-Tatsujin International Advisory Council. He is one of the founders, with Sir Richard Branson, of the global think tank, the Carbon War Room, and a founding member of the Global Business Coalition on Education. Masiyiwa took over the Chairmanship of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) from Kofi Annan. He is also Chair of the Micronutrient Initiative, a global organization focused on ending child hunger and improving nutrition. In 2012, Masiyiwa was invited by President Obama to address leaders at the Camp David G-8 Summit on how to increase food production and end hunger in parts of Africa. In 2014, Masiyiwa was selected to Fortune Magazine’s list of the “World’s 50 Greatest Leaders”. As a philanthropist, he is a member of the Giving Pledge, and his contributions to education, health and development have been widely recognized. Masiyiwa and his wife finance the Higher Life Foundation, which provides scholarships to over 42,000 African orphans. In 2015, he was the recipient of the International Rescue Committee’s Freedom Award and was presented with a UN Foundation Global Leadership Award for the work of the Africa Against Ebola Solidarity Trust, which he chairs and helped establish to fund the deployment of African healthcare workers to combat the outbreak in West Africa.

15 thoughts on “The third most important skill in business – the ability to sell to a customer (Part 4)

  1. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 1.

    A good salesperson is not a hustler, but they are passionate and persistent. There’s a huge difference. Don’t be a hustler.

    Reply
  2. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 2.

    Humility is a better characteristic in the ability to sell than cocky overconfidence.

    Honesty is the glue of good salesmanship.

    Reply
  3. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 3.

    If you enjoyed these two examples and want to read more, you’ll find many such stories in books on sales, as well as biographies of great entrepreneurs from around the world. You must buy such books and build yourself a library on great business books. Also, do formal courses in sales and marketing, even if you’re planning to be a professional in another field.

    Reply
  4. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 4.

    Whether you’re an engineer, an accountant, a computer expert, a lawyer, or any other profession, I will only consider you for the top job once I am satisfied you can do three things: 1) You’re a “reader.” You must be a person who reads and reads — things that are coming in front of you, things related to your job, and more broadly. No modern executive can function without the capacity to read; 2) You must have a head for numbers. You must understand how to read and study financial statements, and 3) You must have the ability to sell.

    Reply
    • Lombe Ng'andu

      My friends laugh wen I tell them you can’t afford to just be an engineer… They say an engineer is an engineer…
      Great insights

      Reply
  5. Lombe Ng'andu

    I have read books on selling but thr is one thing I have failed to clearly extract… What exactly meks a good sales person, it is your first impression to the buyer, the tone of the voice or maybe the produce ur are selling or understanding the customers point of view… What exactly makes a good sales person ???

    Reply
  6. Moh

    Dear Sir,
    Just how do you keep faith in God undoubting? You have succeeded, at least in our definitions, how do you still find a place for faith? That’s all I want to know for this hour.

    I will be helped to hear from you.

    Thank you.

    Reply
  7. Kebiotonaa Samuel

    I was looking for someone to follow as I am about to embark on a business venture that I know will go all around the world and I remembered listening to you some time ago in Lagos so I looked for something about you and I have so for been reading your articles for several hours now. Thank you sir because with these things I am reading I am set to make an impact the world over.

    Reply
  8. Allen

    Dear Sir, l know this is the most unsuitable platform to address my issue. l follow your blog always and have been inspired to start my own project in cattle fattenning. with start up capital of $4000 USD l did the maths and realised l can make sales of $25000 and good profits. l was wondering if can assist in securing the start capital and help set up the project.

    Reply
  9. Raphael Udonna

    Hello Sir,

    Reading through this i can reminds me of a book i once read, ‘The Richest Man in Babylon’.

    In as much as we try to be careful, John Mason advices that we put Safety Last.

    Many atimes we lose golden offers because we are trying to play safe.

    If only the the real estate agent closed the deal at the right time… There’s alot i learnt from this.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Reply

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