An average buyer knows that there is not going to be a great difference between products and services you are selling, as opposed to your competitor. Why then would they go with you? The answer is the experience. They are concerned not just about your product or service, but about their experience with you. This means that salespeople are free to choose how successful they are going to be. There are always going to be issues such as product issues, average leads, etc., but the right salesman can make any situation work to his advantage.
One of the important attributes of a real salesperson is that he can sell anything to anyone. He should be able to create opportunities for himself and his organisation at all points. Some sales training courses go to great lengths to identify natural sales leaders, but in our researched opinion, that is not true at all. Sure, not all sales people are equal, but that is not because of genes or opportunities. Successful salesmen have the right personal skills and some degree of experience, but it takes more than that to consistently convert leads, close deals, and lead the organisation in making sales. There is no secret as such, but successful salesmen do follow a set of tips and techniques that underlie all their activities and interactions. Whichever industry you are in, or no matter what type of customers you cater to, here are some fundamental basics for you to better your sales game.
It’s always about the customer
Your customer is there to buy a product/ service, not necessarily your product/ service. An amatuer salesperson would perceive some obligation on the part of the prospect. But the truth is, they are free to choose your competition over you. If they are going to go with you instead of anybody else, it is up to you to deliver them an experience that is better than your rivals. The first step in this is therefore to understand your customer. It is not enough to know their website address and their product catalogue, you must put yourselves in their shoes to understand what they are looking for in the market. Put them at the center of the picture, and see how your offering can help them reach the solution they are looking for. This simple exercise is a crucial step in becoming a better salesperson in any field.
Research is a crucial skill
Gathering information is an important task for any salesperson. In today’s times, there is so much information available that it is both a burden and a boon. Some avenues you just cannot ignore are a prospect’s LinkedIn and Twitter profiles, their company website and press releases, recent blogs, and Google news. If possible, you should also speak to their on the ground staff like salespeople, vendors, etc to understand their concerns and motivations. Do your diligent research and you will be able to speak to your prospects in their language. You don’t have to spend hours on researching for every touchpoint, but there is simply no excuse for not being up to date on a prospects performance in the market.
Learn How to Sell Yourself
Some sales training courses suggest that you focus on the product/ service you are selling. If what you are saying is persuasive enough, you are close to a successful deal. While this is somewhat true, it does not mean that you are not a part of the equation. Any buyer will evaluate the salesperson as well as the product, and if he/ she is not convinced about the salesperson they will most probably not be parting with their money.
You don’t have to be a complete extrovert or awe the entire floor with charisma. No, that is not necessary, but you do have to be sincere and interested in your customer’s requirements. Have a few anecdotes and stories ready beforehand that you can deliver for a laugh or a smile. When they empathise with you as a person, they are more willing to listen to you as a salesperson. So instead of trying to keep your sales person aside for work, make it a part of your personality.
Develop the art of questioning
Nobody likes to be questioned, least of all prospects who are making an important decision. But one of the important skills of a salesperson is the art of asking the right questions that reveals the prospects’ motivations and concerns. Ensure that you are listening to everything they are saying, what their body language indicates, and what they mean when they say something vague. This is not a perfect science, but rather about empathising with them. Most people enjoy talking about themselves, so once they get going, they will tell you everything you need to know to make the sale. When they are sure that you are genuinely interested, they will enjoy your conversation better, and will be more inclined to listen to you when you pitch your product.
Define the Buyer
This might seem like a contradictory suggestion, but those who can sell anything to anyone will never try to actually sell anything to anybody. They first identify the context of the buyer, their industry, economic conditions, geography, and others like these indicators to understand the buyer. So a successful salesperson would define the characteristics of his ‘ideal’ buyer – the prospect who would immediately buy the product. So you can easily prioritise your leads against this matrix, and focus more of the highest chances of sale. The closer the fit to the ideal buyer profile, the more time you should allocate to engaging them.
Selling Comes Later
You might have identified the right prospect, and you know for sure that your product/ service can help them with their problems. But you cannot expect to barge in to their offices and hope they will hear you out. And you will probably come off as condescending which is not a good start. Spend some time in building a rapport with the buyer. Ask them about what they think of the problem, and let them articulate the issue in their own words. This will give you the focus points where you should concentrate to make the deal. Let them tell you where you can help them, and deliver on that requirement. You should think of yourself as more than a salesperson. You are the advisor who is helping them find out a solution that will help their business. Internalise the process of selling as a natural extension of being an advisor or a consultant to help your prospects achieve results.
Leverage Psychological Hacks to Persuade
The act of purchase is never a purely rational decision. Most buyers are driven by emotional impulses rather than logical reasoning. A good sales person should be able to identify the natural patterns in psychology that drive human behaviour on a daily basis. This helps you counter their influence in your pitch. Some of the basic things to be aware of:
- Anchoring Effect – the first input we receive will be used as an anchor based upon which we will evaluate further inputs
- Decoy Effect – having a dummy or decoy option sometimes helps people make a better choice
- Rhymes – this might sound not true but research shows that people believe rhyming statements to be truer than non-rhyming ones
- Loss Avoidance – most of us are more concerned about losing something we already have, than with getting something we don’t have
- Recency Effect – prospects recollect the end and high points in a presentation more easily than any other section
- Confirmation Bias – We are more open to information that aligns with our inherent beliefs rather than to something that might challenge our views. This is true for even our personal lives.
There are several such psychological biases and effects which you can read up on. This will help you understand the context of your interaction with your prospects and pitch accordingly.
Your prospects are about to make a decision, and they are concerned about making the right decision. Their brain perceives this decision as a risk, and there will be some resistance to making the buy. They are more likely to purchase if they feel confident about their decision to buy. One of the most effective ways to minimise their subconscious perception of risk is to present them with options. When they choose one of the options, they will rationalise internally as choosing the lowest risk option, but will be happy to make the buy.
Believe In Yourself
One of the most important things that sales training can teach you is to believe in yourself. It is natural for us to doubt our abilities and our confidence. But the best salespeople are the ones whose confidence shines through. Research shows that people are more receptive to confident salespeople. This confidence may be infectious and the prospects feel confident in making the sale. Even if you are not feeling confident, you should be able to fake it until you can be really confident. You can reflect on how you have been successful in the past, and even say out loud your achievements. When you use body language that is confident, you will start feeling confident.
Be warm and approachable by smiling more often.
These are some of the fundamental steps you can incorporate in your building your sales skills. Always be open to learning from your peers, customers, and even competitors so you can become a better salesperson.