Sensational sales techniques
Marketing and sales can sometimes be seen as one and the same. While related to each other they are completely different beasts and disciplines.
Sales is a critical component of the overall marketing mix but requires specific techniques and skills.
The difference between a below average salesperson and an excellent salesperson is vast. And the difference between a poor sales call and amazing pitch is just as vast.
At the end of the day, those differences can usually be measured in volume of sales.
Effective sales rely on having the right people and using the right techniques.
Here are my sensational sales techniques and tips on what makes a good salesperson.
What makes a great salesperson
In an ideal world, it would be great to have salespeople who have extensive sales experience and a proven track record.
Sometimes though you may not have the resources to secure a very experienced salesperson or you are looking to upskill an existing employee. In that case, you might want to consider the characteristics of a good salesperson.
- A people person – someone who genuinely likes to engage with people. The key word here being engage, that is, two way conversations
- Problem solver – a desire to help people. Someone who obtains satisfaction from solving people’s problems
- Proactive and innovative– able to think on their feet, take their own initiative and flexible enough to respond to emerging situations and come up with creative solutions or responses
- Action oriented – someone who follows through with what they say they will do and instead of focusing on what ‘can’t be done’ they will say ‘what I can do is…’
- Excellent communication and presentation skills – oral communication skills are particularly important and the ability to tailor information for specific audiences. A good salesperson is always well presented.
- Resilient – the ability to thrive under pressure and bounce back from set-backs, while keeping an upbeat and positive attitude wherever possible.
GENERAL SALES TIPS
Don’t use sales scripts!
If you have ever been on the receiving end of a salesperson using a script, you would have recognised the robotic tone immediately. You may have instinctively had a feeling of ‘here we go, here comes the pitch’. This is not a great start to a sales call especially when selling relies on developing trust and rapport with prospects.
Instead of using scripts, you should develop key messages, phrases or transitional sentences that can be used a guide. Develop a list of questions and anticipated objections as well as potential responses, but these should be used as a reference only, not read word-for-word. Good salespeople sound genuine because they are speaking with their real voice, tone and style.
An exception to this rule is having a set script for when leaving a voice mail. Carefully craft a script that suits your personal style and use a friendly tone. Deliver your message at a medium pace and repeat at the end of the message, key information, such as your name and the number to call back on.
Know your prospect
Before you pick up a phone or approach a prospect in person, know whom you are speaking to. It helps to develop customer personas or profiles on your key targets. Understand what drives them, what are the barriers, challenges or problems they face and how can you solve them.
If your selling to a business, know the business and industry they are in. Do a bit of research beforehand online and referring to other marketing collateral the business may produce. If you’re prospects are all in the same business type or industry, become an expert in that field.
You need to understand your prospects’ needs and problems, some of which they may not have even realised they have yet.
With any prospect, it’s also a good idea to obtain an understanding of when is a good time to contact them, day/night/time and how, email/phone/in person.
Find out if the person you are speaking to is the right person in terms of influence and decision-making. You can politely enquire by saying ‘I have some information about Y that will assist your organisation with X, but I just wanted to confirm who the best person was to speak to about that’.
Be upfront, honest and make a great first impression
Try and use the prospect’s name in your opening sentence if possible, and aim to be friendly but short and concise. It’s also a great idea to thank them.
Eg. ‘Thank you first name for speaking with me today…’
For cold calling introduce yourself upfront and be open about the reason for your call.
Eg. ‘My name is full name from company name. I am calling about our X service and to arrange a time to….’
When you do get to the ‘ask’ be clear about what you are asking of them. If you want them to book an appointment, say ‘I would like to set an appointment time for one of our consultants…’. Don’t ask it with an open-ended phrase such as “if you would like a consultant to…”.
Have a conversation
It is critical , particularly when it comes to cold calling that you understand that the sales call (whether in person or over the phone) is a conversation, not one-way dialogue.
A conversation is dynamic where both participants speak, listen and respond appropriately. Something that can never be achieved via a script.
You want to have a professional, open and meaningful conversation with the prospect.
Focus on the prospects’ needs and restate your understanding of their needs eg. ‘From what you are saying I understand…’.
Ask them to elaborate where appropriate to draw out a clearer picture of the situation, simple questions such as ‘and why is that?’ can help.
Know the difference between a question and an objection. Listen and interpret.
You should be aiming to open and maintain dialogue in a genuine way. By opening the conversation and not seeking to control it, you will help to build rapport.
Sometimes you may need to bring the conversation back on track, but your primary role is to listen to the prospect’s needs, empathise with them and provide solutions where needed.
The ask should then fall naturally out of the discussion, without abruptly derailing the conversation or rapport.
A great salesperson ideally needs to believe in the product or service they are selling, or at the very least believe that the solutions they are offering will address the customer’s problems.
During the conversation, they should be enthusiastic about the idea of providing a solution and helping the prospect.
You should use an enthusiastic and friendly tone and smile (even over the phone). You should show active listening skills eg. ‘Uh huh’, ‘I see’ and display positive body language eg leaning in and nodding.
Roleplays are a great way to get a feel for what does and doesn’t work.
Backing up your claims
There are various ways you can provide evidence of your claims and benefits of your product or service. Here are a few of them:
- Highlight benefits specific to the prospect and their situation
- Use testimonials/case studies – provide copies or refer to them in conversation eg. “this reminds me of customer X who….”
- Use facts, figures, charts, images, videos, expert testimonial to support the benefit claims
- Compare to competitor’s product/service pointing out the superiority of your offering
- Connect the offering to something they an understand, ‘it’s like X but…’
- To encourage a wavering or unsure prospect, narrow it down to two choices for them, ‘so you can purchase package X or package Y…’
- Reduce obvious risks where possible – if there is a cooling off period, trial period or money back guarantee, highlight these.
Offer something special
While you may not be throwing in a set of steak knives, you may be offering something else to the customer that hints at exclusivity or a special deal, such as:
- A discount or 2 for 1 offer
- A package or bundle at a discounted price
- Cross-sell or upsell to other products or services. ‘If you like this you may also be interested in this’ or ‘customers who bought this, also bought this’.
Specify a timeframe to secure the offer, so there is a sense of urgency.
Monitor and evaluate success
You should try and keep track of what does and doesn’t work for you. How many points of contact does it take before you secure a sale? How many separate calls before a sale? What time of day best works with this type of customer?
Keep notes and keep in touch with possible prospects where possible. More importantly stay in touch with previous clients to encourage repeat business.
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