Learn Sales Tactics from the Experts
Using the Best Sales Techniques
When leads come in, how do you know where to put your sales efforts? More importantly, how do you ensure your sales techniques are working to close a deal?
Which tactics are working well? Which strategies are not delivering results?
By updating your sales approach techniques and evaluating them based on how well they result in actual sales, you can help ensure your company doesn’t lose business to competitors. From cold calling to attempting the shotgun sales approach to emailing warm leads, consider auditing your entire sales process and trying some new ideas!
You cannot use the same sales techniques you did 10 years ago.
The sales field is constantly evolving so your sales techniques should evolve as well. In this guide, we’ll walk you through best practices in modern-day sales techniques and help explain mistakes you may be making in your approach.
If you’re ready to get a “yes” after one sales call or just looking for new tricks to add to your repertoire, keep on reading or use the shortcuts to jump ahead to the section that interests you most.
Sales Technique For the First Meeting
Are you ready to learn how to close a deal in one call? I mean it — literally one conversation with a stranger that ends with a signed contract. There may be industries in which this sales technique doesn’t apply, but, for the most part, if you think this is impossible in your field, you’re wrong.
You’re likely unknowingly extending a sales cycle for the sake of extending it. You can either waste time for both you and your prospect, or you can take a shot.
It’s said that only 2 percent of sales are made on a first meeting. But in my experience, that statistic is true only because salespeople believe they cannot close deals in one call. The members of my sales team close 50 percent of their sales meetings in one call. Here’s how you can do the same:
#1 – Be indifferent.
This sales technique is not easy. You need to actually feel indifferent about whether the prospect buys what you’re selling. Describe what you have to offer, shut up, let them voice their concerns, and be OK no matter the outcome.
To practice this skill, get in the mindset of describing two dinner options to your significant other. You’re not selling one or the other: You don’t care which one the other side chooses — you just want to make the call. Reach this state of mind.
#2 – Implement short, simple contracts.
>Get a good lawyer and say you need a simple agreement that is one to three pages, if possible. Listen silently as your lawyer explains why this is impossible, then repeat what you need until he or she makes it happen.
It’s also a must to invest a few dollars in an app to electronically sign these agreements. There are plenty to choose from, and using one removes a lot of friction from the sales process.
#3 – Always offer a pilot or trial period.
Make the first commitment extremely approachable but not free. People love pilots. People don’t love taking big risks with unknown companies. Salesforce might be able to get people to sign up long-term, but you probably can’t.
I know, I know. Churn, KPIs, your boss’s and board’s expectations — I get it. But sell more stuff and deliver on what you promise. Your boss and board will be fine.
#4 – Paint a picture of simple execution, then deliver on it.
Explain what you do in simple terms. I know everyone says this, but trust me: You’re still probably not doing it well. Even highly intelligent, data-driven folks like simple.
If your spiel uses lingo the general population won’t understand, any decision-maker you meet with will assume a partnership will be complicated.
Find a couple of people who aren’t involved in your business and explain the business in one sentence (I used my mother-in-law). If they do not understand, don’t think, “They don’t get it.” Assume you’re not explaining it well. You can call my mother-in-law if you’d like.
#5 – Be quiet, and whatever you do, do not ask for the business.
At the end of your call, let the decision-maker think and decide without prodding. You’ve said your piece; now say nothing.
And, for God’s sake, do not ask potential buyers for their business. It’s a sales call; they know you want their business. It feels desperate, and you can’t afford to give off the scent of desperation.
Don’t attempt to fool unwitting buyers into purchasing subpar solutions. If you’ve created a great product or service, engage in human conversation with other humans. Then determine whether you can truly help them, and get out of your own way.
*This section is adapted from our article originally published in CEOWorld.biz.
5 Things You Can Do Instead of Making Cold Calls to Boost Sales Right Now
Techniques to Increase Sales
Every company wants more sales. After all, it’s how brands stay relevant, necessary, and in the black. Businesses are constantly challenged to attract attention, build loyalty, and move the needle on conversions. Figuring out how to balance this internal need with the external marketplace can be challenging.
Some brands, in fact, feel like the marketplace is constantly dealing them blows that hamper their attempts at boosting sales.
Businesses from department stores to healthcare companies feel that Amazon is a looming threat to their long-term revenue. Baby product brands are seeing sales drop as the birth rate in the U.S. falls. And as ride-sharing services become more popular and public transportation is in vogue for its environmentally friendly benefits, U.K. car dealers are seeing sales shrink.
But focusing on the external factors that limit sales distracts companies from what they can do to boost them. They have a lot more control — and more options — than they think.
Going Beyond Cold Calls
When the pressure to increase sales hits, most companies default to cold calling as the solution. That’s not necessarily the way to go, particularly if that’s the only tactic a business is capitalizing on. “Phone calls produce more in-the-moment pressure to do something, which can yield the lowest-quality meetings,” says Jeff Winters, the CEO of Sapper Consulting.
He says people are constantly looking for a “how to cold call” guide, but that misses the point: “It doesn’t take into account that people will respond, or not respond, to different mechanisms. There’s a whole population that will never take a cold call, as well as a whole population that won’t respond to email or won’t read LinkedIn messages.”
Here’s what brands wanting higher sales should do instead:
- Build an integrated plan.
Winters recommends that brands build lead-generating plans that include cold calls in addition to emails, social touches, thought leadership, and other tactics. By assessing which personas respond best to different kinds of outreach, brands can tailor their methods to the specific audiences they’re targeting. The goal is to determine which method works best for a particular type of customer so the quality of the ultimate conversation is improved.
- Make the most of digital tools.
Some companies still heavily rely on in-person meetings to close deals, but digital platforms can offer more efficient ways of connecting. Better yet, they can gather data that informs the entire sales team’s efforts. McKinsey & Company found that fast-growing companies invested in digital tools that delivered actionable insights to their salespeople; they then shared the collected information with partners, ensuring consistency across efforts. “Mobile-first” isn’t just convenient for prospects and customers — it’s useful for sales teams.
- Ask for referrals.
Many people feel they can only ask for referrals from customers who are incredibly happy with their current service — and they do make for great referrers. But people who have said “no” in the past are also strong sources. While they themselves may not have had the budget for the brand’s services or may not have felt the urgent need, they may know other companies that do. By offering incentives for referrals — which can range from discounts to cold hard cash — a company can boost its lead sources, even among businesses it couldn’t help.
- Ensure your brand is hard to miss.
While not every company can afford a line of billboards or Super Bowl ads, every business can do something to heighten its visibility. A company blog is a good starting point: Having your content address customers’ pain points provides sales collateral for your salespeople. (Bonus points if they write it.) External content can also be a game-changer: Whether a brand is pitching a well-known industry publication or a local business magazine, it’s putting itself in front of its ideal audience. But don’t forget what may be the most natural platform for salespeople: public speaking. By booking them opportunities to speak — whether it’s at a conference or in front of a local Chamber of Commerce group — sales experts can bask in their strengths while providing value to (and attracting interest from) others.
- Actively look for upsell opportunities.
Companies that provide services or product-based customer service often separate their sales and customer service duties. While this makes sense, this also places a divide between these perspectives. Schedule blocked-off times to have salespeople sit with account managers or customer service representatives and talk through client accounts or recent calls. By hearing about customers’ concerns, salespeople can improve their ability to overcome obstacles when closing sales — and they can also help reps and account managers find overlooked ways to increase the value of existing accounts.
Cold calling may have been viewed as companies’ savior in the past, but it can’t be viewed as the be-all, end-all in an era when there are nearly as many ways to communicate as there are audiences. By tying lead generation to a variety of tactics, businesses are more likely to find just the right way to talk to the right people.
*This section is adapted from our article originally published in KillerStartups.
Best Techniques to Win A Sales Meeting
Research indicates that just 0.78 percent of B2B leads convert into new customers. If you don’t understand the gravity of this situation, chances are you’re googling “B2B” to see what it means. But if you’re struggling to surmount the conversion obstacle, I can help.
The chief culprit is the quality of the first 13 minutes of the very first sales meeting. Those 13 minutes are where the deal is won or lost. Here are five good sales techniques to ensure you’re winning the client in that crucial timeframe:
1. Ask questions that you genuinely want them to answer.
Most salespeople ask questions to uncover pain points or unearth a need the customer has that their product or service can magically fill. This is the wrong approach. It’s manipulative and transparent. And, above all, you cannot ask questions to create a need or pain and successfully have a genuine conversation at the same time. The two are mutually exclusive. It’s not possible to respond well if you’re mulling over a planned spiel in your head. The prospect smells it every time. Engage.
Get curious about the prospect’s general industry, and research his specific business. And if you can do this without offending, try to ask at least one question that challenges your prospect’s thinking.
Don’t cross any lines and ask anything that’s potentially insulting, but show that you’ve done enough research to bring new ideas to the table.
Your prospect needs to know that you get it. And by “it,” I mean his industry and business. It’s impossible to do so unless you really prepare and listen. Even making one or two truly thoughtful points (unless they’re completely lacking nuance) will show that you did your homework. So practice, practice, practice.
2. Try to be less unlikable.
You may have heard that “people buy from people they like.” Wrong. It happens all the time, but your prospect doesn’t have to actually like you. He just won’t buy from someone he actively dislikes. So rather than become super likable, get the prospect to not actively dislike you.
Don’t try to build rapport with a stranger during the first two minutes of a call. It doesn’t work. It doesn’t just look fake — it is fake. Assume the prospect dislikes you because you’re a salesperson. Most prospects do. The mission must be to get him to dislike you less without being obvious by conjuring up something you have in common.
Be self-deprecating (if that’s your thing). Use phrases like “I know you know this” and “I’m sure I’m telling you something you already know” to assure your prospect that he won’t be getting a lecture filled with basic information.
Most importantly, have a real conversation. Make him think you’re not trying to sell him something because you’re not. You’re chatting, learning about the business, presenting your wares, and seeing where it goes.
3. Don’t change your personality.
When people get this wrong, it leads to spectacular implosions. Unless you’re looking to provide comedy for someone else, do your best to avoid it.
Salespeople (and you’ve seen this) for some reason turn into somebody else when they’re trying to sell something. Whether they’re asking the questions they think they should ask or presenting the story they think they should present, it’s a recipe for disaster.
You need to be agile in conversations, but that’s impossible when you’re stuck trying to be somebody else. You were hired for your personality, so don’t hide it. Just be you.
4. Don’t waste your time persuading the prospect.
If you notice you’re losing the sale, you lost it 10 minutes ago. Let’s say you’re pitching and the prospect isn’t interested. Maybe you push a little harder by asking a question that turns out to be dumb, making everyone uncomfortable. He gets annoyed. The wheels fall off. We’ve all been there.
Instead, when things aren’t working, say something like “Hey, it doesn’t seem like you’re interested. Am I misreading that?” Give him an out. He’ll tell you. Here’s the reality: You can’t persuade a prospect who isn’t interested in your services. Ask him about his business, tell him what you do, and if it’s not a fit, move on.
5. Make the sales process simple.
I get it. You sell a complicated solution that requires weeks (if not months) of data collection and the input of doctors, nurses, CFOs, clergy, and astrologists. Your product is fascinating, and you want to thoroughly explain how it’s going to revolutionize the way people chew gum.
But when you go too deep, your message gets muddied and people lose interest. Focus on what makes your offering unique and compelling. The greatest human motivators are simple concepts: love, fear, golf, etc.
So don’t over complicate your sales calls. Use these five basic sales techniques to win the first 13 minutes of the call and get that close rate past 0.8 percent.
*This section is adapted from our article originally published in EyesOnSales.com.
To help set your sales team up for success, implement some of these sales techniques and test them against your current methods. If you need help with lead generation so your team can focus on selling, Sapper Consulting can help you create a steady flow of new leads to turn into new clients.