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Extracurricular Education: How to Develop Selling Skills Outside the Classroom

“Approach each customer with the idea of helping him or her to solve a problem or achieve a goal, not of selling a product or service. “ – Brian Tracy


If you are considering a career in business, marketing, innovation, design, product development or entrepreneurship, understanding the principles of selling is key to your success. 


As a college student, you will eventually encounter the topic of selling – especially if you are majoring in communication, finance, public relations, social science, liberal arts, economics or any number of other fields which are concerned with the interaction of people and money. Most majors, however, do not provide students with hands-on, real-world, person-to-person selling experience. The only way to gather actual selling experience at the collegiate level is through an internship with a commerce-oriented, sales-driven company. 


College Works Painting (CWP) is one such organization, and for nearly 30 years CWP has been teaching the principles of selling to university-level students. A management internship can allow you to gain real-world experience and build business skills that put you miles ahead of your peers. As a College Works alumni, you can graduate from college and enter the workforce as a highly valuable asset to any company looking for qualified recruits.   

A Life-changing Opportunity

The College Works Internship program trains participants to utilize a proven, time-tested, turnkey system to build their own residential house painting business in their spare time. The business model includes selling at its purest form – researching valid candidates, contacting them yourself, pitching them your service, walking them through a sales pitch and closing the deal. Once the contract for your services is in place, you subcontract the work to a crew (which you will hire) and then you repeat the process again and again. The CWP model is so effective because, as an intern, you will have access to guidance, assistance and expertise from managers who have already successfully worked the business model. Aside from learning invaluable business skills while still in school, you can also earn enough money to pay off student loans so that you graduate from college debt-free. (Tyler, insert backlink to Earn Money for Tuition blog here)

College Works Internship Sales Skills

As a College Works intern, you will participate in every phase of the selling process. The hands-on, real-world aspect of the CWP business model allows participants to learn the art and science of selling by doing, rather than by reading about it in a textbook. Your experience will include the seven steps of the selling process. This is a framework that has been in place in the business world for many years, and while it changes in small ways from one industry to the next, its effectiveness explains its longevity:


Prospecting and qualifying – Viable candidates for a professional house painting service are identified by you – the entrepreneur — by researching homes and homeowners throughout the adjacent communities. 

Preparation / Pre-approach –  You will determine your opening sales pitch via script, practice so that it sounds natural, and make sure you have all necessary sales material on hand for when a prospect starts asking specific questions. Also, it is important to have specific information about the client on hand (without sounding intrusive) such as current color of the house, type of trim, style of construction, etc.

Approach – You will introduce yourself to prospects in person, explain the purpose of your visit and begin to establish rapport. After asking a few easy introductory questions, you will do the all-important sales technique of LISTENING to the potential customer so that you can determine if a presentation is warranted. 

Presentation – Here you will present a solution to a prospect’s problem. You will explain, in detail, the aesthetic and monetary advantages of a professional house painting job. Since you asked them preliminary questions and listened closely to their answers, you can tailor the presentation to fit their specific needs whether they are looking to sell, refinance or upgrade the visual appeal of their home. 

Overcome objections – Most potential customers will raise objections as a natural part of the sales process. You will acknowledge their viewpoints and offer solutions while asking more questions in order to further understand their needs. 

Close the sale – You will simply ask the customer if they are ready to make a commitment and purchase your services. Once all terms are agreed with, the work contract is made official, and it is time to get to work.         

Follow up – Once you complete the work, it is important to make sure the customer is satisfied. Once you are assured that their expectations have been met, you can ask for a review of the service and for referrals of family and friends who can benefit from your service. 

Essential Principles of Selling

The subject of selling is of extraordinary interest to countless people. The topic has been studied, dissected, perfected, reinvented, tried and tested many times over. Among these efforts, there have emerged approaches and philosophies which, after reliably generating success, have become essential components in the canon of sales techniques. During your College Works internship, you will be presented with opportunities to put these ideas to work for you and experience the results first hand. Selling is both an art and a science, and each person involved in this time-honored business tradition must find the tools that work for them and develop their own unique style of selling through hands-on application.    


Ask and Listen

Sales experts the world over agree that in order to be successful, you have to listen more than you talk. It is of crucial importance that you actively listen to what your prospect has to say – somewhere in a 60% to 40% listen/talk ratio – so that you can understand their needs and respond accordingly with solutions. Ask important questions relative to their needs and your service and then give them your undivided attention. 


Sell Yourself

It is important to have confidence in your company and your product, so as a College Works intern you can use company metrics and success data to bolster your poise. Conversely, it is crucial that you balance this modality with an ample sense of humility. Avoid bluster and bravado while making sure you are not too meek and unassuming. You have to find that fine line, which is to essentially apply your own personality in a professional, respectful manner.  


Engage with Individuals

Each prospect is unique, and folks living next door to one another can vary drastically in personality style and how they respond to your sales pitch. As you utilize the “ask and listen” principle, you can begin to understand the specific needs of each individual client and respond with fine-tuned solutions. 


Link Features to Benefits

The various aspects of your College Works Painting business will include services such as removal of loose paint, caulking of exterior trim, painting of primary surfaces, etc. It is important that you point out the benefits of each service such as enhanced surface appearance, protection from water damage and beautification of the property as a whole – respectively. The advantages of each service may seem obvious to you, but unless you take time to point it out to your sales prospect, they may not make the conscious decision to take action based on the benefits.   


Sell the Results

Based on the “ask and listen” principle, you can create an image of what the finalized house painting project will look like. You can then describe this ideal end result to your client to help them visualize a picture that aligns with their fundamental reason for hiring your service.  


Emotions Drive Sales Conversions (Not Logic)

People rarely make buying decisions based on reason. According to Harvard Business School, “95% of our purchase decision making takes place subconsciously.” While facts and figures can bolster confidence in your sales pitch, the way your products and services will enhance the customer’s life and experience in the short and long term are what drive conversions. Once you can get a prospect emotionally engaged in the outcome of their decision to buy, you are on the way to closing a deal.   


Focus on Solutions

It is important to address a customer’s concerns, but it is equally important that you not linger on these areas. In order to move the sale along, you must shift the conversation to solving these problems and how you can help. These solutions are best presented in person, so that the client can appreciate, firsthand, that you have considered their concerns and have taken the time to show them ways to resolve these issues.   


Be Professional

While developing rapport and camaraderie with customers is key, it is also crucial that you don’t get too comfortable and that you maintain a professional demeanor. Getting people to like you is not as important as if they value and respect you. If you earn a client’s trust with a professional sales presentation and service, it is best kept by maintaining that formal demeanor.  


Develop Yourself

As a newcomer to the world of business and sales, some of these principles will come easily while others will not. No one becomes an expert in sales overnight. These skills must be developed over time through hands-on experience. One of the great advantages of College Works is that you are getting a massive head start by learning how to apply selling principles and techniques while you are still in school.  


Sell Value not Price

A sales pitch based on numbers alone will fall flat almost every time. Your presentation of your products and services as well as your own confidence in your business should be at the focal point from step one. Once you have listened to a prospect’s concerns and presented them with a personally-tailored set of solutions, they should be able to easily understand why your services are prices as they are.  


Know Your Stuff

As a college student, you most certainly understand the importance of doing your homework. As a College Works intern, you will encounter clients who want to test your knowledge and understanding. You will also meet folks who need as much reassurance as possible before they take action. In order to get this, they will ask you every question imaginable about your services. The College Works business model is unique, as you have access to experience managers who can help you answer questions from an overly analytical client.    


Be Unique

While it is crucial that you maintain a professional demeanor, it is also of utmost importance that you are not fake or that you do not speak like a robot. Your personality is what will ultimately sell most clients on your service, so don’t hide it when asking them questions, listening to their concerns and presenting them with solutions. 

How A College Works Internship Can Enhance Your Major

The business skills you can acquire as a College Works intern, specifically your knowledge of sales and selling, can complement your studies and help launch your career in your chosen field. 

While a CWP internship is separate from your college or university, you can consider it an auxiliary education – a genuine, introductory excursion into the world of commerce. 


Communications – This field is largely focused on advertising and mass media. These are forms of selling which utilize many of the fundamental principles outlined above. A comprehensive understanding of sales – which you could gain as a College Works intern – would make you a valuable asset in this industry.     


Finance – The financial services sector handles nearly all aspects of money for individuals and corporations. The “ask and listen” as well as the trust-earning aspect of sales are crucial in order to convince others that you are qualified to handle their money. Thorough knowledge of selling psychology and the emotional ties people have to their money can be an invaluable part of your skill set in this industry. 


Marketing – Similar to the Communications field, this industry is synonymous with selling. While much of the messaging is delivered through multi-media outlets and digital platforms, the one-on-one skills a College Works internship helps develop can offer incredible insight into the true reasons why people take action and make buying decisions. 


Business – Majors in this field study just about every aspect of the financial world including marketing, project management, finance, economics, accounting, international relations and more. Your sales experience from College Works Painting as well as the rest of the business skills you will learn in your internship will perfectly compliment your studies in this field. 


Public Relations – A degree in PR can lead you into an industry where you work to magnify the attributes, benefits or advantages of people, places and things. Just like explaining the benefits of a product or service during a sales pitch, you will do so utilizing industry tools such as news releases, speeches, internal communications and more. A foundation in sales built during a College Works internship can help position you for a great career in this field. 


Social Science – A career in this field can integrate the psychological aspects of selling into your large-scale studies of society and human behavior. Hands-on experience in selling through a College Works internship can give you vital insight into the human psyche and the subconscious factors which influence most buying decisions. This can be applied to interpersonal situations as well as seasonal, quarterly and global financial trends.   


Liberal Arts – A degree in this field could lead you into a career as an artist, actor, writer or otherwise independent, creative entrepreneur. All of these areas involve the principle of “selling yourself.” Previous experience in sales will give you a distinct advantage in markets which are saturated with artists who understand nothing of the principles of selling.   


Economics – This field focuses on the science of money and the analysis of buying incentives and how marketplace fluctuation reacts to human interaction. Intrinsic knowledge of the psychology of sales – gathered through a CWP internship – can provide you with a working model of the theories you will learn in the classroom as you pursue your degree.

Sales are a major part of many areas of study and their subsequent careers. College Works is an auxiliary learning experience which can teach students vital, essential, crucial business skills which are simply not offered in most university classrooms. An internship can place a young professional at the top tier of the labor pool once they enter the workforce after college. Contact us to learn more about an invaluable way to learn about the many facets of sales and selling. 

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