How to Sell Anything: A No-BS Guide to Selling

Sales, the final (business) frontier. If you’re here to learn how to sell, you’re probably relatively new to this whole game, and I can bet you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed. (Trust me, I’ve been there).

Whether you’re a business owner branching into the world of sales, or a new sales rep who’s just getting their feet wet, wrangling the art & science of the selling process can feel like fighting an uphill battle.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. 

When you break it down, sales is (relatively) simple—your prospects have a problem, and you have a way to solve it. All you have to do is convince them to buy. Badabing badaboom. 

Sure, there’s a near infinite number of methodologies and frameworks that you could study for months (and maybe you should). However, what most salespeople need is a very simple crash course in how to sell—and that’s what I’m giving you right here.

Let’s make sure you have the basics covered so you can start winning some deals. 

Quick note: These steps are for selling a product or service that requires you to communicate with people, and not for selling online products via platforms like Amazon or eBay. That’s a whole different ballgame. So, if you’re a salesperson who needs to communicate with people in order to sell, read on. 

Know Your Target Customers (Better Than Their Mom Knows Them)

If you don’t know who you’re selling to, you’re probably going to waste a lot of time selling to the wrong people. Instead of waiting to get lucky, do the upfront work to start selling to the right people, straight out the gates.

Dig into your target market, fully understand who you’re selling to, and you’ll see a big payoff in the long run. 

Not sure who your target audience is? Let’s talk about how to identify your ideal customer profile.

How to Identify Your Ideal Customers, Fast

  • Look at your bread-and-butter customers: What type of customer has been the easiest to sell to? Which ones see the best results from what you’re selling? Who gives you the most referrals? Others like these are your target audience.
  • Do market research: Identify the pain points you solve for your customer base. This could be as simple as Googling or could involve surveying your current customers. Dig up some insights that can help you get specific on who you should be doing outreach to. 
  • Go deep on demographics and customer needs: Go to your favorite social media sites—LinkedIn is great for B2B sales, or you might try Facebook groups if you’re selling services locally. Find out what people within your target market are discussing, and identify their pain points. Look for patterns in the types of people who will see the most success with what you’re offering, and nail down that target market. (Note: this is a step that many salespeople skip, so digging deep here can give you a big advantage).

For example, let’s say you own a power washing company. Look at your most consistent customers, and find out what they all have in common (like the demographics, building type, neighborhood, etc.) Then, search real estate sites or Google to find similar homes or businesses. Finally, you can dig into a social media site like Nextdoor and search "power washing" to see what people are asking about it.

Remember: this doesn’t have to be complicated. Within a few hours, you should be able to nail down specific characteristics that you want to target.

Become an Expert at What You’re Selling

You can’t sell anything if you don’t know what you’re talking about. 

Case in point: At my first sales job, I was tasked with cold calling and emailing scientists conducting clinical trials. Not an easy task for an economics major. 😨

I didn’t want to sound like an idiot, so I learned everything I possibly could about at least the narrow part of this world that I was selling into. That meant understanding the basics of how clinical trials work, the problem that these people had (managing hundreds of thousands of sample vials), and how I could help them solve that problem (with software that made managing those samples easier). I didn’t need to go to graduate school for biochemistry, I just needed to grasp the industry

Whether you’re selling used cars, real estate, solar panels, or software, you need to do a deep dive into your industry to come across as someone who knows what they’re talking about. 

Of course, be reasonable. Don’t expect to know their field better than the experts you’re talking to. Get to know their pain points and develop a deep understanding of how your offering can solve those problems. 

Focus on knowing what they don’t know—the solutions to the problems they’re facing.

How to Become an Expert

Being an expert doesn’t happen overnight. Approach this process from a place of genuine curiosity, and you’ll grow your knowledge exponentially over time. Here are some tips to get started:

  • Identify and follow key industry experts: This includes blogs, YouTube channels, Instagram profiles, podcasts, etc. Follow these, and you’ll progressively gather more information about your industry.
  • Get to know your product like the back of your hand: Develop a close relationship with the product team. Get to know what you’re selling and why it matters to customers. Field test it if you can!
  • Work with a mentor: This doesn’t have to be an industry expert—you can learn a lot from the expert salespeople at your own company. Listen in to their sales calls, learn from the way they talk with potential customers, or even spend an afternoon listening to recorded sales calls (especially the successful ones). 
  • Talk to the people! Get on calls with happy customers or industry experts and learn about their day-to-day life. Again, approach this from a place of genuine interest and curiosity.

Another type of expertise you’ll need is to understand the competitive landscape. You don’t need to know your competitors in as much detail as your own company, but you should understand them from the perspective of someone evaluating your solution. That means knowing the advantages and disadvantages—and how you can use your unique benefits to stand out. 

Before you pick up the phone or start scheduling appointments, make sure you’ve done enough homework to feel confident about what you’re selling.

Build a Relationship with Potential Customers 

Some industries rely more heavily on the relationship aspect of sales. For example, in real estate, the results are relatively similar no matter who the seller is. So, the relationship is a main selling point.

That said, no matter what industry you’re in, relationships matter. When you build a personal connection to your prospects, they’ll be more likely to choose you over any other option they’re considering.

More than just building relationships, though, you also need to build authority. Become a reliable consultant to your customers, and you’ll win their trust (and their money).

Here’s another tip about building relationships—if you’re selling locally, focus on building relationships in your community. You have a key advantage here in that you can go beyond social media and find those “third places” where you can physically be in the same space as your ideal customers.

These might include coworking spaces, churches, or coffee shops in your neighborhood. Indulge in the fun part of a local sales job—strike up conversations, build in-person relationships in your local community, and get rewarded for it later on.

Pro tip: Don’t have any local “third places” to rely on? Make your own! A friend of mine in wholesale real estate hosts monthly seminars at a local hotel event center to teach local entrepreneurs about flipping houses for free. Creating your own space that brings potential buyers in is another fantastic way to build relationships while also building your pipeline.

Specific Ways to Build Trust and Authority with Potential Customers

When you first make contact with a new lead, here are some tips on building a relationship. 

  • Ask tons of questions and listen intently. Don’t just talk, talk, talk—that will make people feel like they’re being "sold" to. (Yuck.) Instead, ask open-ended questions, including specific questions about their industry or process. Listen carefully to the answers, and ask related follow-up questions. This makes potential buyers feel like you care about their perspective and genuinely want to help.
  • Use your expertise to build trust. When you display a high level of competency in their related field, people are more likely to trust and respect you, which further solidifies the relationship. 
  • Go above and beyond. Take every opportunity you can to show you care about their success. If you’re selling software, put together a custom demo. If you’re in real estate, offer extra meeting time to discuss their needs in greater detail. 
  • Really get to know them. If you want to build a relationship, it can help to go beyond the business side of things. Wining and dining with clients or just asking them about their families, careers, and life goals outside of work will make them feel connected to you and more likely to buy. This has worked great for me in the past, and I still feel like I’m friends with some of my former customers. 

For more on this, check out our article on relationship selling

Qualify Your Leads (Determine Which Ones Might Actually Buy)

Once you’re talking with a potential customer, you need to answer two basic questions:

  • Can you help them?
  • Can they help you?

It doesn’t matter if you found them by actively doing outbound sales or if they came to your business through inbound marketing—you need to make sure they’re a good fit. 

In sales, this process is known as qualification.

The easiest way to do this is to match any new lead to the criteria you identified above: your ideal customer profile. Do they match the patterns you’ve seen in your most successful customers?

I know I said I wouldn’t go deep into frameworks, but let’s quickly cover one simple framework you can use out-of-the-box for qualification: BANT.

How to Sell - BANT from Close

Qualification, like much of sales, is all about asking questions to both uncover needs and determine if your solution would actually work. Within the BANT framework, your questions would focus on the following:


First things first: can they afford your solution or services? 

For industries like real estate or mortgage lending, you could ask, are they a serious buyer or seller? Or do they qualify for a loan? 

Ask clarifying questions early on to make sure they have the budget so you don’t waste both of your time. 


If you’re selling to a business, there are likely multiple people working there. You need to find out if the person you’re talking to actually has the authority to make a purchase decision or if you’ll also need to talk with their boss or someone else. 

In direct-to-consumer sales (again, like real estate), you need to see if someone needs to check with their spouse before they can make a big decision. If they do, you’ll need to get them on board as well. 


It’s time to ask qualifying questions that help you understand their problems and whether you have the right solution to solve them. 

These questions will vary greatly depending on the industry and solution, which is why I recommended before that you become an expert in your field. The goal here is to figure out what they truly need and how you can provide that, and NOT jump into talking about your solution too early on. Uncover needs first; talk about your solution later. 


Need is great—but the timing has to be right for this to work.

For example, if you’re in real estate, a young couple might just be thinking about buying a house but won’t be ready until next year. You should still do your best to build a relationship with them and keep a lookout for what they need, as it can pay off later, but it’s good to know for your pipeline that they aren’t looking right now. 

The same goes for business-to-business sales, where budgeting cycles and other timing considerations come into play. 

So, what happens when a potential customer doesn’t match your qualification criteria?

The best customer experience you can give is being honest—if they’re not an ideal customer for you, tell them straight out that this isn’t going to work, and they won’t see the results they’re expecting. That way, only high-quality leads move forward, and you protect your business from bad-fit customers.

Make the Purchase a No-Brainer 

At this point, you know exactly what your potential customer needs, the price point they’re working with, and how your offering fits in.

What’s left? Your sales pitch.

Lay it all out in a simple proposal. Hit each need, and prove how you’ll solve it. Clearly explain the value they’ll see if they buy from you. Here are two keys you need to write a proposal that sells.

Add Benefits Before Features

A sales pitch is like a story—your prospect is the main character, and your product is just a side note that contributes to the finale: getting the results they’re looking for.

In practical terms, this means selling the outcome before discussing the mechanics of how you provide that outcome. Lazy salespeople list product features—successful salespeople talk about how that functionality will affect the prospect’s life and business.

For example, let’s say you sell marketing services, and your prospect is a company that desperately needs new customers. Start by talking about the benefits (a full pipeline or a percentage of increase in high-quality leads) rather than features (fully managed paid ad campaigns or local SEO). 

Use Highly-Relevant Social Proof

When potential customers see that you have customers who are similar to them, or who found a solution to the same problems they’re facing, you’ll have a much more powerful sales pitch.

The highest quality social proof is referrals. Find customers who bought your solution and enjoyed the benefits so much that they’re willing to talk to strangers about it. From my experience, this sells.

The second best form of social proof is to use case studies and testimonials (ideally with impressive results) that outline how you’ve solved a similar problem for others. 

Here’s an example of how we do this at Close:

How to Sell - Use Social Proof like Close in this example

Nurture Your Leads Toward the Sale (And Keep Following Up)

In most cases, you won’t close a deal on the first call. You need to take actions that move your leads toward purchasing. This is called lead nurturing and can happen over a period of days, weeks, or even months, depending on your industry and who you sell to.

The goal—keep moving your prospects continually closer to making a purchase.

According to a study by RAIN sales training, it takes an average of eight touchpoints to close a sale. How many salespeople give up after five, six, or seven touchpoints, after doing 90 percent of the work? 

Here’s a simple concept that will set you ahead of most salespeople: follow up until the sale is closed.

No, I’m not talking about pestering them until they say yes. Just keep following up until you get a clear “Yes” or “No.” 

When I was first starting in sales, the previous salespeople hadn’t done a great job of following up with old leads. This ended up being a gold mine for me. I was able to comb through all of the inactive deals and just by following up with them, I made some huge sales.

Ready to do the same? Here are some of the actions you might take:

Create Email Nurture Sequences

Email is a quick and easy way to stay in contact with an active lead. However, I have a rule for every email I send: it can’t just say “checking in.” You need to provide value with each email touchpoint. Find a reason to be emailing other than, “Hey, I was wondering if you still want to buy my thing?.” 

Instead, make sure each follow-up email provides value—an interesting article or infographic, a thoughtful question about the sales process, or asking if they have any questions about something you recently told them. 

If you work with a high volume of leads, you can create automated sales workflows using a CRM system like Close. Instead of manually typing out a bunch of emails, you can enroll leads in a series of pre-written emails that ideally provide some value. This can save time but is less personal than a one-to-one email that’s highly relevant to your ongoing conversation. 

Pick up the Phone or Schedule a Video Call

My sales manager would give me a quota for a certain amount of phone calls I had to make each day. I hated it at the time, but I see the value in it now. Although we aren’t conditioned to speak on the phone as much in the digital era, phone calls are a more personal touchpoint. 

Chances are they won’t pick up, so leave a thoughtful voice message. You should have a talking point ready to go before you pick up the phone, just as if you were sending an email, then use that to either start a conversation or leave a message. Don’t call too often because it’s more intrusive, but also don’t be afraid to pick up the phone. It’s a fine balance.

If you’ve been going back and forth on email for a while, suggest either a phone call or a video call via Zoom or Google Meet. You’ll get a lot more effective communication done on a call than you will in an email. 

Want to combine these methods? Here’s how that sequence might look:

How to Sell - Pick up the Phone with Close CRM

Touch Base on Social Media

Follow-ups on social media work especially well for direct-to-consumer sales like real estate, accounting, or coaching services. If you didn’t meet your lead through social media, you can add them after your first call. Then, you can like and comment on some of their posts (where appropriate, don’t overdo this) and follow up in the messaging app. Lots of folks these days are more likely to respond on Instagram than they are to an email or phone call. 

For business-to-business sales, making a LinkedIn connection can also help add some trust and transparency, and offers another venue to follow up if you don’t hear back via email or phone. 

Another way to get in touch with your consumers on a deeper level is to embed a Google review widget. Embedding a Google review widget on your website is a great way to engage with your leads and customers. When you showcase Google reviews on your website, it shows visitors and customers that their opinions matter to you. This can foster a sense of belonging and trust in your brand, ultimately promoting brand loyalty and honesty.

Send a Personalized Video Message

Instead of calling and leaving a voicemail, you can add a personal touch and increase your chance of getting a response by sending a video message. 

You can use a service like Loom to not only record yourself but also your screen. Add value by showing some interesting data, a new real estate listing, or demonstrating how to do something related to your business. 

The best part? You’ll stand out immediately because not enough people do this.

Keep your videos short unless you have a good reason to make them longer (like if they asked for a recorded product demo).

Pro tip: No matter what follow-up method you use, a CRM will make it a million times easier. Use Close to create sales workflows, with steps that include email, SMS, phone calls, and more. There’s no learning curve—we built this tool for busy salespeople who don’t have time to mess around with complex tools. Once you’re in, you can build your first workflow right away.



Learn How to Manage Objections

Managing objections isn’t just about giving a quick rebuttal—first off, you need to listen to it, acknowledge it, and ask questions to dig deeper. Before you respond, make sure you understand the objection and where it’s coming from.

Part of your ability to respond to objections comes from being an expert, like we discussed before. The same basic objections will repeat themselves—so, prepare to face them in advance.

Most objections have to do with one of these five things:

  • Lack of budget
  • Lack of need
  • Lack of trust
  • Lack of urgency
  • Lack of authority

When you prepare responses to these basic problems, you’ll be ready to handle a wide variety of objections from potential customers.

For example, if someone says “A similar product is cheaper,” you can acknowledge that by saying, “Yes I’m aware. That’s because they don’t provide [X]. Does [X] matter to you?” If they’re talking to you, chances are it does. Listen to the response they give and use that to start a conversation about how valuable it is to provide [X]. 

Over time, you’ll get really good at handling most of the objections you get since you’ll hear them over and over. However, it’s worth it to study our objection handling guide to become an expert. It’s a skill that can make you a lot more money in sales.

Bonus Tip: Using a CRM Makes Sales So Much Easier

Following up with hundreds, or maybe even thousands, of leads would be a nightmare without a CRM, yet some small businesses still try to make it work with Post-it notes and Excel. Having a centralized tool to track lead info, automatically record notes from calls and emails, and keep track of all your follow-up tasks is a dream in comparison. 

With a good CRM, you’ll never forget to follow up and let a potential deal slip by. Close makes following up easy—automate the repetitive stuff so you can focus on giving your 100 percent where it really counts.

You’ve got the basics down. Ready to dig deeper? Here are some of our top resources to improve your sales skills and close more deals:

16 Best Sales Strategies: Free Template & Examples for Startups and SMBs

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