The modern sales landscape is a challenging one to navigate. The market is often full of competition, customers no longer respond well to traditional sales techniques of talking up your product or service better than your competitors, and the internet makes it easy for customers to research alternative options.
The modern salesperson needs to consider a wide range of factors, from the personality and needs of your target customers to the most effective contact methods and the best ways to stand out in a market full of competing products. Below are some of the best sales techniques for winning over prospects.
The first step towards a successful sale is identifying the best prospects and understanding their needs. Create buyer personas of your current customers and build an ideal customer profile (ICP) if you don’t have one already. This helps you learn what type of person or business uses your product and what their challenges and needs are. From there you can identify leads who fit your ICP and focus your attention on them, as these are the people who are most likely to be receptive to your sales pitch.
Qualifying your leads in this way saves you from spending too much time on low-quality leads that are unlikely to convert. It also allows you to tailor your pitch to suit their situation. By targeting the right leads you can increase your success rate as well as the return you get from those customers.
Having a general picture of your typical customer isn’t enough, though. Once you have a lead that fits your ICP, you need to learn more about them and their company. What role does this person have? Are they a decision maker or influencer? How big is their company? What kinds of needs and challenges do they face?
You can collect this information from a variety of sources, such as surveys, interviews, online research, and social media. With it you can determine the best ways to sell your product to a particular prospect, and predict ahead of time what kind of objections they might have or features they require. The more prepared you are, the better chance you’ll have of capturing the person’s interest with a personalized approach and closing a sale. You will be more persuasive when you show that you understand your buyer’s needs and can recommend solutions that will meet those needs.
There’s only so much information you can gain through research. Once you’ve gotten in touch with a lead or client, ask them about themselves, their company, and their needs. Not only will this give you valuable context to personalize your sales pitch with, but it will demonstrate that you care about what they have to say and make them more willing to listen. You can also use questions to encourage the buyer to think about their current problems and consider how your product or service could help solve them.
Some salespeople will give up on a lead after one or two attempts at contact. However, studies have shown that on average it will take six attempts to successfully connect with a prospect. Stop before that and you risk losing out on sales opportunities. This lead may be your first priority, but you’re almost certainly not their first priority, so it may take a few attempts before you reach them at a time when they’re available and willing to listen.
Pick your method of contact based on the person you’re targeting. Some people will prefer email or even text over phone calls, so it’s important to reach out in a way that will be most likely to get a response. You can try multiple methods of communication, but if you know your client’s preference then the best sales technique is to stick with that as much as possible.
When you do successfully make contact with a difficult-to-reach lead, make sure to check in with them about what the best time and method of communication is, so you can get in touch more easily next time.
When a lead reaches out to you, contact them quickly. The sooner they receive a response, the more likely they are to still be interested in what you’re offering. If you wait a few hours or a day, the lead may have moved on to a competitor or lost their sense of urgency. Research shows that responding within a few minutes can dramatically increase your odds of reaching them successfully and developing a high-quality lead.
It’s not hard to guess that Monday and Friday aren’t ideal days to reach out to prospects, but you may not know that research has found Tuesdays to be difficult as well. Try contacting people on Wednesdays or Thursdays when possible and you’ll have better odds of getting a response.
The time of day matters as well — people are often busy with work in the middle of the day, so reaching out at the start or end of the day is more likely to be successful. Try calling between 8am and 9am, as well as 4pm and 5pm. If you’re dealing with people who aren’t local to you, don’t forget to account for time zones.
Many salespeople will consider their competitors’ offerings to be the main challenge when trying to close a sale, but that’s not quite right — you’re also competing with your buyer’s status quo. It can be hard to overcome inertia to convince a company to change things up and spend money on something new. Even when you’re offering something that no one else is, you need to convince the buyer that they’re better off buying it from you rather than sticking with their current, familiar status quo.
In order to fight that inertia, identify what isn’t working for your prospect, or how it could be better. Keeping pen and paper records might be familiar and straightforward, for example, but how annoying is it to look up information? How hard is it to collate data and discover patterns? How much time are they losing to recording and looking up data by hand, and what valuable insights are they missing out on?
One of the best sales techniques is to draw attention to the ways in which the status quo is holding your prospect back or causing them frustration. How many hours are being wasted, opportunities lost, expenses piling up? How does your product or service stop that waste, make their work easier, or earn them more money? Convince them that something needs to change, and you’ll have more success persuading them that they need what you’re selling.
Your prospects will raise objections when you talk to them, from simple ones such as “I’m busy” or “we’re not interested” when you first make contact, to more specific issues later on, like concerns about price, quality, or company reputation. It’s important to anticipate these objections and have responses prepared — any hesitation and you may lose the opportunity to win the prospect over. Practice your responses to common objections, and where possible, address them yourself before your prospect even has the chance to raise them.
But while you need to be aware of as many potential objections as possible, you won’t necessarily have to address every one of them when talking to a prospect. Consider who your prospective customer is and what their concerns and limitations could be. A small business with a handful of employees and a limited budget won’t have the same needs and objections as a multinational corporation. Tailor your preparations and your pitch to the type of prospect you’ll be talking to.
Existing customers won’t need the same approach that you take with new prospects. Remember the importance of challenging the status quo? Well, when you’re trying to make a sale to an existing customer, you are the status quo. Take too aggressive an approach with them, and you may drive them to consider what your competitors have to offer instead of continuing to buy from you.
It’s much more cost-effective to sell to existing customers, and they’re typically the source of a large amount of your revenue. Take advantage of the fact that they’re already on board with you and make them feel comfortable and safe with that decision.
As mentioned above, your existing customers are valuable sources of revenue and future sales. Don’t ignore them after you’ve closed a sale: follow up with them to see whether they have any problems or concerns, and send them personalized messages and offers. By making them feel valued and giving them special bonuses or opportunities as a result of being your customer, you build loyalty and make it harder for them to switch to a competitor in the future.
If the only choice a client has is to buy something or not buy it, someone who is risk-averse or on a budget may decide to pick the easy option and not buy it, maintaining their status quo. If instead you provide them with multiple options that have different prices and levels of risk, they will feel more confident in making a decision to buy your product. Now, the lowest-risk option may not be “buy nothing,” it may be “buy the low-end option that costs less and has the opportunity to upgrade later” or “buy the customizable option that can be made to fit our needs.”
Instead of ending a sales call or meeting with a promise to schedule the next one, make your plans while everyone is still present. Trying to coordinate calendars, especially when multiple team members are involved, gets more complicated and time-consuming when done over emails and calendar invites. End a meeting by making plans for the next one, and you’ll be more likely to actually have that next one.
The marketing team can play a key role in finding and qualifying sales leads, and qualified sales leads are typically a much better use of your time than unqualified ones. They also have access to insights about who shows interest in your products or services and what channels they like to use. By sharing information not only can you learn useful information about your prospects, but you can also tell them what you’re looking for in a lead. Marketing can take that information and create targeted content and advertising campaigns that will attract and nurture the type of person that matches your ICP.
There is no single best sales technique that will always win you the customer. But there are many ways that you can prepare for sales conversations and set yourself up for success. Research, plan, listen, and be persistent, and you stand to increase your sales significantly.
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