Selling is unlike most other professions: there are no recipes to follow, no protocol to adhere to, no cut-and-dry method for achieving fantastic results. Most salespeople develop their own bag of tricks out of necessity and pride, and while some are naturals, others’ instincts are leading them astray. So while there is no fool-proof formula to closing a sale, there are a number of selling techniques that will not only help you close better, but that will teach you when enough is enough; just because someone won’t close now, doesn’t mean you need to sever ties with them permanently. Below are eight techniques and lessons that any salesperson would be wise to adopt into his or her repertoire. These techniques are more akin to principles, and are designed to lend some integrity to the profession. If that kind of thing perks your interests, direct your attention to this breakthrough in influence and persuasion to find success beyond the sale.
Contrary to popular belief, a good salesperson is not someone who can read the client’s mind. Just because you’re good at reading people doesn’t mean you should sell that way. Good salespeople avoid jumping to conclusions; when something is not clear, you need to (kindly) ask questions in order to know exactly what the client is thinking and what the client desires. Don’t let your vanity fool you into thinking fiction supersedes fact, because that’s never the case at the end of the month.
Value is almost always relative: how pricing compares, how badly the client needs or wants your product, how the client differentiates between you and the competition, etc. The key is not always to stress that you have the best product, but situating your product in the larger picture, which will naturally make you a more honest salesperson.
Most salespeople talk too much. It is not your duty to talk, necessarily, but to uphold the conversation. This means getting your client to talk, too. In fact, most professionals consider a good conversation one in which the client does the majority of the talking. If you can conduct the pitch in a way akin to an interview, perfect. You want to be interested, asking questions, and listening. In the age of the Internet, anyone can find the down-to-business information they need online. A salesperson needs to provide the human element, so do what the Internet can’t: lend an ear.
Quality, Not Quantity
This ties into the leasson learned in “Shhh…” What you say is at least as important as how much you say. Before you waste all your client’s attention on stressing the awesomeness of your product, find out what it will take for the client to buy from you. Ask first, talk specifics later.
And while you’re at it, you might consider taking a lesson or two in communication. But I did all the hard work for you: here’s a course that will help you discover how to communicate effectively in just one day.
Lack of Empathy
Everyone has had someone try to sell them something. You know what it can be like. If you aren’t getting the response you want from a prospect, don’t rush to blame them. If clients are showing hesitation, that is almost a guarantee that you have not done enough to assure them. Of course, staying on track with a sale requires practice and discipline, involving many of the other techniques listed above and below.
Excess of Arrogance
I would bet the most common answer when interviewing for a sales position is: I can sell anything to anyone. First of all, not with that attitude. And second, you won’t get hired just by saying you’re a good salesperson, and you certainly won’t make a sale just by telling someone to buy something. In fact, the opposite is what you should be shooting for. Ideally, you will know which questions to ask to lead the client toward developing their own reasoning for wanting your product (how are they going to argue with themselves?). It’s similar to the techniques used in the movie “Inception,” but instead of doing this subliminally, you should accomplish it by honest and skilled questioning.
Keeping All Your Eggs In One (Nicely Presented) Basket
This may seem counter-intuitive, but the sale should be all but locked-up going into a sales presentation. When I worked sales for a photography company, the vast majority of our presentations were to pre-existing clients. We perpetuated business through them and took advantage of the opportunity to showcase our new products. Our clients already knew they were going to buy from us, we were simply reminding them of our strongest attributes.
But I don’t mean to undervalue presentations. They’re a vital part of the sales process, and you can always benefit from understanding how to turn presentations and proposals into more business.
Hiding Your Weaknesses
This is practically irresistible, but withholding vital information, such as product weaknesses, from your client is not only poor salesmanship, it’s unethical. Let’s imagine that you do not tell your client of a flaw and subsequently make the sale. It will be sooner rather than later that the client will discover the flaw for him or herself, and any trust you had managed to create will be lost. Making one-time sales is easy if you lie. You want your clients buying from you for years to come. This goes back to “Appropriating Value.” Exposing a weakness does not have to be a negative; Toyota doesn’t sell the Camry by trying to convince people that it drives like a Ferrari. Being honest is admirable, and the client will respect your integrity. Plus you can use the weakness as a way to team-up with your client. Think about the Home Depot’s original motto: “You can do it. We can help.”
Now that you’re a master of the honest sale, maybe you fancy teaching others the keys to success. Teach confidently with this comprehensive sales training used by the world’s most successful sales pros.