Being successful in sales requires deliberate and persistent activities and the ability to adapt to the market and services simultaneously. We’ve come a long way since the days of door-to-door selling and annoying car salesmen. Selling is a science with rules and regularities that have been thoroughly analyzed and researched.
Businessmen, psychologists, FBI agents, economists, and more have written about their best approaches to the sales process. While there are many different verticals and company types, certain principles apply across the board. We’ve identified nine foolproof sales techniques that will help you identify prospects, build a trusting relationship, and close the deal before you can say “always be closing!”
But first, why don’t we start by pondering what sales is, exactly?
What Is Sales?
Before I answer this question, let me first ask you a question: What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of sales or a salesperson?
Chances are you have had some sort of negative association—and who would blame you? Most of us have interacted with an intruding, pushy telemarketer or salesman at some point.
The good news is this: What sleazy salespeople do has nothing to do with the true process of selling. People often think that selling means simply exchanging a product or service for money, but there’s much more to it.
You might buy a random store brand of pasta for the first time because it’s the first one you saw on the shelf, or because it was cheaper than other options. But then you might decide you will never go back to buying that generic brand again because your favorite brand, which is truly Italian, makes you feel like a Michelin star chef—that right there is selling. Selling means exchanging value for value. All those pushy and negative seller types are just people who miss out on delivering value in exchange for what they want you to buy.
The truth is, during a sales call, you’re selling yourself by trying to present yourself as the most valuable person for the task at hand. We do the same when we ask for a raise, apply for a job, negotiate a big contract—even when we try to get a second date. Value makes the world go around, not money. While money is often a good indication of value, it can often be misleading.
What Is Sales Enablement?
Sales enablement is the process that allows you to set up a sales funnel that flows effortlessly and delivers value to your prospects at each touchpoint of engagement. To do this, your sales team must be equipped with proper training, tools, and sales techniques so they can sell effectively and efficiently.
Our sales enablement clients have said they should have gone through the process of creating sales standard operating procedures (SOPs) at the beginning of their business venture. They understand their company would have been at a completely different level right now had they done so.
The 9 Key Sales Techniques
There are some regularities that happen in every sales process in order to achieve a sale—you must find an ideal customer, establish trust, present solutions, close the deal, and nurture the relationship. Understanding these nine effective sales techniques will enable you to sell your product or service in a way that benefits your customers and your company.
Selling might seem easy when you list these sales techniques out, but actually implementing them successfully takes a lot of practice. Mastering these skills is not like riding a bike, but more like brushing your teeth—you need to do them every day to see the results, even when you’re not in the mood.
1. Identifying Prospects
Practicing sales techniques and scripts is important, but researching the company and the representatives you’re going to speak with is essential. These days, you can find out pretty much anything online—including the number of employees a company has, public politics, and the tools they use. Learning these things about a prospect and the business they work for might help you identify them as a bad fit and save you time to work on leads that are good fits.
Doing this research also helps you prepare to present to and converse with a specific persona. It’s easier to talk with someone whose age, education, seniority in the company, and location are familiar to you. Get to know your buyer personas, and their pain points and selling will become easier over time.
2. Building Rapport
We all know that salesperson who seems to create connections no matter where they are or who they are talking to. But the truth of the matter is that it is difficult to hit it off with everyone. Learning how to build rapport takes time, which is why it is one of the most difficult sales techniques to master.
Throughout my sales career, I have been fortunate enough to attend and observe a lot of sales calls conducted by top performers. If you joined the call ten minutes late, you’d think that the sales rep and prospect are friends who regularly go fishing together—even if they just met. That type of performance requires years of deliberate hard work and experience, but it’s something every salesperson should aim to achieve.
Often, a new sales rep’s instinct is to start asking prospects a lot of questions, which can be interpreted as intrusive. Or, alternatively, they may cut straight to the point and begin presenting products too early, which comes off as pushy.
It’s your lucky day because I’m going to share the secret approach to building rapport that works with every prospect, every time. When a prospect inevitably asks you how you are doing, you share something about yourself that is personal yet universally relatable. Maybe your wife’s family has been over for a week, and you feel drained. Perhaps you’re preparing for the big snowstorm that is heading to your region. Share whatever you’ve been up to with your prospect—these small exchanges of pleasantries will make you human and relatable. In turn, you will not be perceived as just another annoying sales rep.
3. Identifying the Prospect’s Challenges and Qualifying Them
Before you attempt this sales technique, it’s important that you’ve already spent time researching the company, its number of employees, its situation in the market, and its biggest competitors to see if there are some things you can identify before your call.
Once you’re on the call, you should not just present your product or services—you’re not quite there yet. Before you even get to the conversation about what your company can provide, you need to ask some questions to identify which of your offers would be the best fit for the client.
To do this, it’s important that you explain the need to ask questions. People are far more likely to cooperate and give answers when they give consent first and understand the value of the process. Your sales team needs a list of standardized sales questions that will help you better understand your prospect. You should always have them open in another tab, printed out in front of you, or in your notes.
4. Presenting Solutions (Diagnostics)
Once you’ve answered the most important questions and identified the challenges your prospect is facing, their needs, and pain points, it’s time to present your services as a solution. This is a fine art, and one of the tougher sales techniques to master. It will take time, but don’t be discouraged. Here are some sales tips to help you instantly improve:
- Be Honest – People can tell when you have a genuine desire to help them. Lying and manipulating to close a deal is never the answer.
- Smile – People can tell if you’re smiling, even on phone calls. Smiling on a call can translate into positive energy and excitement, whereas talking without smiling can make you sound monotone and boring.
- Be Excited – Exude personal excitement because you can see how much you can help the prospect grow. Energy is contagious, so this is an easy way to inspire enthusiasm.
- Be Confident – If you wanted to strip sales to the most basic level, it’s a transference of confidence. If you’re confident enough that your service is going to help the client, the client is going to believe you and become confident themselves.
- Talk Slowly – If you talk in a high-pitched tone and too fast, you’ll seem nervous. Make sure you check in on your tone and talking speed, and avoid drinking coffee or tea before an important conversation if you are easily affected by caffeine.
Like anything else, successfully presenting your services as a solution takes practice. Follow these five sales tips and learn from salespeople who have already mastered this technique.
5. Knowing When to Say “No”
Sometimes, even though the prospect is interested, they’re not a good fit for the company. When this happens, be honest. It’s far better to tell them the truth, as they might become a client in a couple of years or bring you a referral. Setting false expectations in the sales cycle is a really dangerous thing to do because you’re essentially setting customer services up for failure before they even started working. This can only bring frustration to both your team and the prospect.
6. Handling Objections
The best approach in this technique is handling the fire by taking away the match. In other words, address the issue before it becomes an issue. If you predict that some typical objections are going to come up in conversation, make sure to mention them before the prospect does.
Start your sentence with a phrase like “If you’re a little bit like me…” or “Most people at this stage wonder/are concerned about…” and outline their concern. This way, the prospect will feel like you understand things from their perspective.
Remember, you and your prospect are not on opposite sides of the table—it’s not a competition. You should be working together toward the same goal, and these questions help you position accordingly.
7. Closing the Deal
This is the most exciting of the sales techniques and undoubtedly the best part of every sales rep’s day, isn’t it? You’re closing the deal, expanding your company, helping clients’ companies grow, moving the economy, achieving your goals, and making the world a better place.
Still, a lot of salespeople take prospects to the end of the pipeline and lose them just there. Why is that? Thousands of sales books have been written by sales experts about sales techniques and strategies for closing. But when you boil it down, there are a few key sales elements of all successfully closed deals:
- Timing Is Just Right – The prospect has the bandwidth to handle working with you.
- Pain Points Have Been Addressed – Cost of inaction, fear of loss, bad positioning in the market, internal challenges, and any other concerns have been addressed either before or during the close.
- The Need Has Been Created – The prospect has identified their pain and the need for a solution.
- Your Company Has Been Identified as the Best Solution – The prospect has the confidence that you’re the best solution in the market for their situation.
If one of these things is off, the deal will be off.
Getting a Prospect to Sign
Sales reps can be hesitant to give their clients the benefit of the doubt and tend to think that the client has lost interest if they don’t sign immediately. People have a lot of things going on in both their personal and professional lives—especially executives. Relatives will get sick; employees will have personal issues that affect the company; a lot of things unrelated to your deal can cause delays and deprioritization. The other reason why a client might stall signing is that one of the key elements of closing the deal hasn’t been fully covered.
Even though they said yes, they still have some insecurities, so they aren’t ready to move forward yet. You will never know which one it is unless you ask. Before you ask directly or offer more value, make sure to follow up politely a couple of times. It’s quite possible your contract has been deprioritized, but everything else is okay—again, it’s important to give the prospect the benefit of the doubt.
8. Maintaining the Relationship
Implementing effective sales techniques doesn’t end when you close the deal. After the prospect signs and becomes a client, maintaining your relationship with them is vital. Make sure to listen and understand their worries and concerns. If your service team takes over all communication, don’t forget to follow up to see how they’re doing.
After all, you’re the reason they signed in the first place. They trust you to look out for them—and you should. Strong relationships keep clients working with your company longer. They also open up opportunities for upsales.
9. Creating an Opportunity to Upsell
Make sure to always be on the lookout for opportunities to upsell. A lot of sales reps have a tendency to forget about the client once they sign them, but upselling can be an easy way to increase your profit.
A good way to spot upselling opportunities is to have regular updates from the client service team. Client services usually do not have a sales mindset, as they are more focused on making the customers happy. Being up to date with wants, ideas, and challenges that clients express is an excellent way to spot an upsell opportunity. You can always schedule a reminder to send an email or call just to check in on the client every quarter or every other quarter, depending on the types of services you provide.
What Are the Next Steps?
Now that you know all the techniques to create an upward sales trajectory through sales enablement, you can identify the right leads and provide them with value at all touchpoint levels. Check out how you can implement these new skills with B2B lead generation.