Powerful Sales Techniques

Insight into some powerful sales techniques to help prepare when it comes to engaging a customer or prospect. Whether you are a seasoned sales professional or new into sales, you need to have a set of sales techniques you can draw upon to hit those sales targets. The list of techniques to follow should help increase the approach and interactions to improve sales performance.

Sales Techniques begins with Planning and Preparation.

Sales is a process, not an event, meaning that planning and preparation are sales techniques. This technique is about learning to gather information and insights about a contact plus their company. Being competent to have an in-depth discussion about a customer’s industry, markets, news and trends is often one of the sales techniques salespeople struggles with. Coming armed with insights will not only help build credibility with the customer but also show that you have a genuine interest in their business.  Start by using social media to gather some insights, use Google news or companies blog for announcements, research their industry for trends and forecasts. The more information, the better as it can help build a picture of the customers challenges etc. Now plan out the steps, questions and discussions for the call, meeting or presentation. Using the insights, you have gathered, create a personalized value proposition for this customer and what is it in for them to listen to you.  Don’t forget to also plan out the opening statement and 3 or 4 discovery questions so you can get their awareness and attention based on your knowledge.

sales-techniques

Challenge the Status Quo.

Learn to challenge the customers status quo because in sales the biggest competitor in securing a deal is not the competition but the buyers status quo position. Status quo comfort or the natural inclination for people to avoid change is one of the biggest obstacles in sales. On a scale of 1 to 10 for sales techniques difficulty, this one is an 8 or 9.  The sales skill here is to understand the customers status quo then uncover everything that makes up their status quo to determine how, if, why and when any change would be required or more importantly accepted internally. To master the sales technique of challenging the status quo, we need to change our mindset to “Servant Sellers”. Servant sellers are willing to work with the buyer as a change agent. This involves undertaking all the grunt work, the running around, the gathering of information from multiple parties and other members of the buying committee who will also not have shifted their status quo position.

The sales techniques include magnifying the pain points, making the challenges, obstacles or opportunities as real as possible plus positioning the true cost of doing nothing as unbearable.  The result we all look for is that our proposed solution gets moved up on the customer’s priority to-do list.

A few questions to note are:

“How would you describe your current situation? (in relation to your product)”

“What is your process for [name it] right now?”

“Which improvements would you seek if you had a choice?”

“Is there anything about your current solution to [name it] that you wish was easier?”
“Could you help me understand this better?”

“What is the impact of leaving things as they currently are?”

“What would you consider to be the obstacles in finding a solution?”

“What is the knock-on effect and cost to the business if your current solution can’t [ scale, adapt, cope, change, etc]?”

“What insights or event would trigger you to explore alternative options now?”

 

Be a MOP – Master of Performance.

All the worlds a stage, and salespeople are the players who make buying easier. You see, every single interaction with a customer is an opportunity to perform, to build credibility, to influence, to be seen as useful, and to gain their trust. Everything from our tone of voice, from the way we dress, to what is said and just as important – how it is said, is all part of the sales performance. The quality and relevancy of the information we impart is what determines how we progress. People buy from experts and advisors, so confidence is vital. Similar to an actor, learn to tell stories, talk at a measured pace to allow the words flow naturally. Use facts or data with a raised pitch within the story to display confidence. Have the business acumen to know the customer is asking themselves “Why should I listen” and “How are you different from my current supplier”. So be prepared to answer this as part of your sales performance.

Sales 3.0 is about Collaboration.

Use collaboration to uncover sales opportunities, remember the switch rate ratio is 54% listening to 46% talking. Practice and measure the switch rate that you and the customer take turns listening and then talking. This sales technique allows for the flow of information to be two-way. Some sales training will help you master the sales skill of “active listening”, this opens the door to insights, allowing us to work together to help find the solution that best meets the customer’s needs. To help the switch rate runs smoothly, have a list of discovery type questions to ascertain if any real sales opportunity does in fact exist.

Examples include:

“Where are you experiencing the biggest challenges?

“What has been your own experience in trying to narrow down solutions in the past?”

“What type of events or trends would make you review your current solutions?”

“In which area [personalized to product] are you seeing most challenges?”

“What is your process for going about solving these issues?” 

“What would be the criteria for you to consider solutions or options to [name it]?”

“In an ideal world, when do plan to have found some options for consideration?”

“What would the normal decision-making process for my type of solution be?”

Real sales collaboration shouldn’t be rushed, receiving insightful and honest answers will give a good indication of whether there is a sales opportunity or not. If the switch rate is highly interactive, the questions and answers should reveal the customers main pain points. This allows for a progression in the sales process, however if no opportunity exists or can’t be crystalized then it is time to move on.

It’s about Buying Ease not Buying Please.

The sales mindset here is Let me work for you and show you what you need to complete this purchase.” The customer does need more, they already live in a world of more- more information, more data, more options, and more people involved in a buying decision.

We need to focus on buying ease, to bring clarity in the sales process. To collaborate and help customers simplify the buying process, to make it easier to buy. Research shows customers who experience a high level of “buying ease,” opt to do with that supplier, in fact they are 62% more likely to win the deal. Buying ease includes making the customer feel comfortable about moving out of their status quo, that new possibilities are only positive, that the cost of change is manageable, to show them how to sell the solution internally and then make buying easier by being a servant seller.

Sales techniques are a never ending and constantly changing story. They reflect the environment we sell into and our customers evolving preferences for how they buy.

Selling Techniques

In sales, for selling techniques to work effectively there needs to be clarity in both the actual sales role and in the process of selling. Successful selling is about always having a clear objective based on where we are in the sales process.

Challenge the buyer’s journey

Sales people can too often view the sales process as a linear process with a WIN/LOSS outcome at the end where the prospect either chooses you or the competition. There is a third option which studies show that effects up to sixty percent of deals getting marked lost, this is the “No Decision” scenario where the prospect parks the deal due to the fear of change or just don’t see the value. One selling technique is to challenge the status quo of the win/loss scenario and focus on getting buyers to see that change (choosing your solution) can make them a hero, will make life easier and has value far beyond the price being paid.

selling-techniques

Find the USP

In the sales process there will always be some overlap between what you provide and what the competition can provide to a prospective customer. Stark reality is that the overlap could be as high as sixty or seventy percent. Do not fall into the sales trap of over focusing on “parity areas” against competitors in the sales process. Rather sales people should focus on what they can do for the customer that is absolutely different from what the competition can do; this is your “Unique Selling Point.” Your USP has to be unique to your solution, identified as being important to the customer, and can be defended when push comes to shove.

Share social stories with real meaning

Sales and marketing messaging is about telling a company’s story in such a way that it attracts prospects to the business and eventually turns them into customers. The challenge for every company and sales person is to share stories (social selling) that differentiate from the competitors. Sharing stories with real meaning can help create a powerful perception of value in a customer’s mind. So we need to tell the “before” story and the “after” story, real verifiable stories, meaningful stories, stories with emotion. Share real stories about the people who were affected by the challenges in the business area they were working in. Then share how their situation became easier, more productive, or less stressful after using your solution to the problem.

The customer is the Hero

Every story has a hero. The hero who got things sorted. In business, the customer is always the hero, the hero who identified the problem, who foreseen change was needed, that there was a better way. Reality check, it is NOT you, your company or your solution. The customer is the one who needs to save the day, not you. Selling has changed, the sales role is to adopt the position of a mentor, listening, helping, guiding and sharing stories to customers so they can see what needs to be changed and how they can thrive into the future.

Focus on the customer

Successful selling starts by really listening to the customer, the challenges they have and what they want to solve, rather than just trying to find a reason to sell them something. No such thing as a standard sales presentation, each one should be tailored so the way you present your product or service will match each and every customer’s requirements. This solution selling technique is a far more powerful than delivering a template driven, general purpose sales pitch. Now your sales message can pinpoint exactly how your product suits the customer, highlighting the points where you have a competitive advantage (USP). While at the same time, the more information you know about a customer’s position and what your product could potentially do for them, the more likely you can prove its value to them, hence reducing the fear to change barrier.

Focus on the right customers

Customer acquisition and lead nurturing is about focusing on the right customers. Ask the question “Who do I sell to?” No point hunting down prospects if the solution you have is not a right fit. While sales training should include sales tips on getting past the gatekeepers such as secretaries and to create interest, they do not tell you which customers to approach. Take the time to understand where your company can beat the competition, then research customer profiles, draw up a list of prospects, engage with social selling to create awareness to put you in a strong position when it comes to considering you or your solution. Also knowing who your ideal customer profile is will help open up a sales story and why it is worth a customers’ time talking to you. Knowing when to sell and knowing when to walk away is a selling technique not being taught enough.

Clarity in the Sales Process

Think of a sales process as a series of steps to get from A to Z. Does the sales process have or include a free trial, an on-site visit, face-to-face meeting, proof of concept or maybe a product demonstration? What processes have proven most successful in the past? On every customer interaction, ask yourself, what do I want to get out of this and where are we in the sales process? Clarity in the sales process gives you a framework and the time to create a buying vision, the reasons and case why the customer will change (challenge the buyers journey) plus the time to share social stories to show how the prospect’s world can change for the better.

Be Systematic

Success is based on hard work and skill not luck. A systematic approach to selling is critical to sales success. Have a daily, weekly and monthly plan for lead generation, sales calls, social selling, pipeline development and deals secured with specific targets in each area. Much of this sales activity is a question of efficient time management so before you start your week, check your sales process and then plan the number of events you want to progress.

In sales, we are today where our selling techniques have brought us. We will be tomorrow where our selling techniques take us.

Sales Techniques

Every sales professional should have a reference library on effective selling techniques. There are lots of sales trainers who dispel “sales wisdom” which in reality does not help the sales person improve their sales close rates. Gathered from sales interviews and insights from sales leaders here are some really effective selling techniques that have been proven to work. Ten sales technique tips that might help improve sales performance.

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  1. Find the real problem or pain point the prospect is communicating. Do not fall into the trap of assuming that the prospect is communicating the true problem that needs solving, the so called “red herring”. It is important to dive deeper into every customer scenario. Like a doctor, a sales professional must ask “is this the prospects real pain point or is it just a niggle?” Then prior to diagnosing and offering a solution on how to address their challenges, more questions needs to be asked in order to get at the root of the customers problem or pain, and then it is the job of the sales person to demonstrate value to the prospect by aligning the product to the customers real goal.
  2. Telling is not Selling. In the agreement staircase a sales professional should always be helping the potential customer discover the best reasons to buy from their company and never ever telling them why they should. The potential customer should have decided they will be buying from you before the final proposal or presentation.
  3. Two ears and one mouth. The gift of the gab does not hold true. Sales people should seek first to understand then be understood. The first priority is about listening and asking questions. In a digital world, if a prospect wants the lowdown on a company’s products or services, all they have to do is visit the website. Selling is a series of conversations, and building trust via honest exchange of information.
  4. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Buyers go through a process of self-discovery and education before reaching a decision on which product or service is the right solution. Customers do not like being railroaded and to be told what to buy. To avoid the “selling by telling” scenario, it is critical to ask key questions or relate the “feel, felt, found” third party stories which guides the customer to discover the benefits and advantages of your product or services. When a sales person asks open-ended questions that leads to a discovery, the customer themselves owns the discovery and buyer resistance reduces. Customers do not tend to argue with their own logic.
  5. Ask, Sell, Educate. The first goal in selling is to find prospects and then ask why, and under what circumstances, the prospect will buy from you. Asking questions and listening comes first, the sharing of materials, data and specifics comes next. Ask, Sell, Educate in that order.
  6. A Sales person’s time is valuable too. As the sales conversation progress, a sales person must make the decision whether or not to continue investing time in the relationship building with the prospect. If a sales person is a poor decision maker in order to keep the prospect on their pipeline, the lack of clarity and decisive action will be mirrored in the prospect’s actions. A golden rule of sales is the shorter the selling cycle, the more leads that will close.
  7. Never Assume. A good sales professional always gets the facts from the prospect about what they need and why. When a prospect is vague with detail, ask for clarity. Never fall into the trap of being a mind reader. When sales people jump to conclusions, assumptions are made that lead to a waste of valuable time and opportunities being squandered.  As the saying goes, Assume is to make an ass out of you and me.
  8. Never work for Free. When and if a prospect asks for free work, proof of concept or consultancy before they will make a buying decision, play the “What If” sales game. Paint a what if picture to the prospect where the additional groundwork or consultancy is completed which is then a solution that fits everything the prospect needs, what happens next?, will they give you the purchase order? If the prospect flinches at sealing the deal even after the additional free work is completed, or if they introduce another step in the sales process, it may be time to walk away or focus on the new step in the sales process.  When you want to know where you stand, focus on the present.
  9. Be tough on yourself. It can be too easy to cast blame on the prospect for stalling the process or wasting your time. Instead, look towards yourself. It is the role of every sales person to guide, assure and inform the prospect plus address any detours along the way. The most effective way to improve sales success is to continue to refine your own sales approach and technique while valuing your time.
  10. Never perfume the pig. Never ignore any product limitations or cover over any issues the prospect identifies during the sales process. Always try to be open and transparent on product advantages, parity and disadvantages during the selling cycle. The prospect will respect a sales person that is mature enough to never to try and blanket over anything, instead turn the focus on how together you can problem solve, creating a win/win team approach to the prospects solution.

So there you have the ten sales techniques, it is not an exhaustive list or even suggesting it is all encompassing, but even if you find one suggestion that will work for you in your sales career then maybe the ten minutes spent reading this article was worth it. Happy selling and for more sales tips articles visit the Bitter Business.

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