When we started researching this post, it quickly became apparent that there were hundreds of different selling techniques out there that we could share with you. Turns out, the sales world is pretty cluttered with advice.
We believe that every good salesperson, well really any person in general, always has room to grow in their role and improve their skills. It's why we invest in the education of our team, encourage them to take time out of their days to read industry publications, let them test their ideas, all in confidence they will get better at what they do.
For our sales team, the resources they most often turn to are industry leaders in the field. The Salesforce blog, the HubSpot blog, Inc.com, Forbes, and others, are all fantastic places to find valuable information that can help you hone your skill and become more effective.
But rather than just pointing you to these resources and letting you fend for yourself, we thought we'd take today's post to give 10 selling techniques that we've sourced from leaders within the sales community that will help you become a better salesperson.
1) Understand Your Market
Above all else, you can't be an effective salesperson if you don't understand who you are selling to and what the market landscape looks like. We're not talking about just knowing their name, title, company name, website URL and email. We're talking about really understanding what makes them tick.
It's not just about who you're talking to though - it's also about who else is crowding your space. What does the competitive landscape look like? How does your solution stack up? Examine how the competition is selling and pitching, and do something different. You want to standout and be unique, while still speaking to what your prospects need (and want).
2) Refine Your Lead Generation
According to Ken Krogue, President & Founder of InsideSales.com, "It's really about the leads." From our standpoint, this means refining your lead generation so that you are capturing high-quality leads who truly need what you're selling. But increasing the quality of your leads can be tricky.
It starts with knowing who you're targeting (i.e. identifying your buyer personas). From there, you should be able to ascertain what they're struggling with, what their challenges are, and will be able to align your messaging / offers with these. It doesn't work to be everything to everyone. In order to have effective lead generation, you need to have a specific target audience and prove that your solution can solve the needs for this group.
We have seen success when implementing this strategy with our clients; they not only see an increase in the number of leads being generated, but also in the quality. The leads that come through are more aligned with their solution and more ready to buy.
3) Foster a Sales-Driven Culture
While we're all about strengthening the bond between marketing and sales, a great way to help ensure the success of your sales team, is to make sure you're fostering a sales-driven culture. That doesn't mean that the company revolves around your sales team, it just means that there is an emphasis on sales - chasing prospects, winning deals and ultimately, driving more revenue for the company.
4) Leverage Your CRM
At New Breed, we're big fans of Salesforce. Our sales team uses it as their CRM platform, but we've also integrated it with HubSpot, our marketing automation software, so there is full transparency between marketing and sales. Our sales team is able to see exactly how a prospect has interacted with our content - what blog posts they've read, what pages they've visited, what emails they've opened - giving them talking points, but also more insight into what the prospect is interested in purchasing and how ready they are to buy.
Additionally, CRMs can be highly beneficial when there is a change on the prospect's side during the sales process. Let's say for example that you're selling to a large software company, you're half-way through the sales process, and your contact leaves for a new job. Someone new comes into their role, who you've never interacted with and isn't familiar with your offerings. This could be a stumbling block, but if you've kept your CRM up-to-date, you should have recorded notes of your conversations with your previous contact so you can present these to the new prospect and not have to start from scratch.
5) Focus on the Data
When you're a small company like us (actually even if you're a large company this rings true), efficiencies can help tremendously. Not just in spreading the workload and helping you feel more sane, but when generating revenue as well. Pay close attention to your metrics, find out what's working and what isn't. What's helping your sales team close more deals? What seems to be something they're stumbling over?
Data doesn't lie (at least not most of the time), so listening to the numbers is a critical component to your sales success.
We know that data analysis can take a lot of time, so we suggest that if you're not accustomed to measuring your sales efforts, start with bi-annual reports and make them as in-depth and detailed as possible. Once you've gotten to that point, start doing quarterly reports - these can be a little lighter than the bi-annual ones, but still contain a lot of detailed metrics. Then go as granular as monthly - this can be the lightest of the three versions and just looks at your sales on a higher level. The goal is that each of the reports shows you something in a different perspective. By looking at different trends you can make smarter decisions that will ultimately get you more results in the long-run.
6) Really Listen to Your Prospects
According to our friends at HubSpot, specifically Mark Roberge, their SVP of Sales & Service, "You know you are running a modern sales team when selling feels more like the relationship between a doctor and a patient and less like a relationship between a salesperson and a prospect."
So, what does he mean by that? Really, it's that in order to be effective salespeople we need to be able to listen to your prospects, or as they say, "become a listening machine." We tend to be a self-centered culture, in part thanks to social media, so it's important that as a salesperson, you care about your prospect. And not just on the surface, that you really care. That will shine through in your conversations, help build trust (which we'll talk about next) and help close deals.
7) Build Trust Through Education
Building trust can be difficult when you're trying to sell someone a product or service. We've been conditioned to have a bad reaction to a "salesperson" - they've been made out to be slimey and untrustworthy.
So today, it's important that you foster that relationship and build trust with your prospect. And a great way to do that is through education.
When we say education, we're really talking about content. Use your blog, your premium content offers, your webinars, etc., to help educate your prospect on what your organization offers. Don't just go in for the hard pitch right away. If you help to educate them, enabling them to make their own decisions (which you have helped guide towards your solution), they will begin to trust you. And once you have trust, you're much more likely to be able to win the relationship.
8) Focus on Benefits
How often do you get a call from a salesperson and all they talk about is the brand new features of the product they're offering? You listen politely, but think to yourself, "Yeah, but how does this help me?".
Truth is, features don't help you. At least the way they're usually positioned by sales. What you really want to know is, "How is what you're selling going to solve Problem X for me?" Essentially, you want to know how you are going to benefit.
As a salesperson, this differentiation is key. Rather than focusing on the features of your solution, think about how those features can benefit your prospect. How are you solving one of their challenges / pain points? When you can talk up the benefits, you'll have a much easier time convincing them that your organization can most effectively solve their needs.
9) End Each Meeting with an Action
When you leave your next meeting, rather than saying something like, "I'll follow up with you on our next steps", create your next steps right then and there.
We tested this methodology on our own sales team and saw huge results. We used to end our meetings with a prospect, indicating that they could expect to hear from us in a few hours with a few times that worked for our next meeting. We kept finding that it was increasingly harder to book that next meeting.
So we decided to switch our strategy. Now when we're ending a sales call, we finish on a concrete action. We'll all pull up our calendars and book our next meeting on the spot. And guess what? We've seen our conversion rates increase as a result of it.
So next time you're in a sales meeting, don't leave empty handed. Set up your next meeting while you're there with the prospect, or at the very least, have a concrete action plan that both sides have agreed to.
10) Use Your Marketing Team
We talked about this in technique #4, but we wanted to expand on it a little further. We can't say it enough, but marketing and sales need to be working together. There is so much these two departments can learn from each other that can help the organization reach their main goal of generating more revenue.
On the sales side, use your marketing team to your advantage. Talk to them about what your prospects are saying - are they responding well to a piece of content? Did they not enjoy the webinar they attended? Share these insights with your marketing team so they can continue to feed you higher and higher quality leads.
You also want to share your reports with the marketing team. Full transparency will help you both be more effective. Marketing is in charge of delivering leads. So if you can show them what types of leads are closing, or how long it's taking you to close a sale because the leads aren't ready to talk to someone, then they are able to change their marketing campaigns to account for that. Use them as an ally, not as an enemy as so many companies do. We promise you'll see the returns.
Now it's your turn...is there anything that we missed? Let us know your top selling technique in the comments below!