We believe that every good salesperson (or any person at all) always has room to grow in their role and improve their skills.
That’s why we invest so much in the continued education of our team, encourage them to take time out of their days to read industry publications and let them test their ideas — all in confidence that they’ll use this information to get better at what they do.
Our salespeople have learned a lot along the way, so we decided to share some of our tips with you. Here are our top 10 techniques to 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're 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.
What does a day in the life of your prospect look like? What challenges are they facing? What could make their life easier?
Gaining this knowledge about your prospect will help improve your understanding of how they can benefit from your solution and enable you to position your product or service in a way that will resonate with them.
In addition to understanding your prospects’ pain points, you also need to know who else is trying to solve for them outside of your company. What does the competitive landscape look like? How does your solution stack up? Examine how the competition is selling and pitching, and then do something different.
You want to stand out and be unique, while still speaking to what your prospects need (and want).
2. Focus on the Right Leads
According to Ken Krogue, Founder & Board Member of InsideSales.com, "it's really about the leads." From our standpoint, this means understanding what makes a lead a good fit for your company so you don’t waste your time on people who will never become customers.
It starts with knowing who you're targeting (i.e. identifying your buyer personas and ideal customer profile). From there, you should be able to determine what they're struggling with, what their challenges are and how you can align your messaging and offers to their pain points.
When you focus on the right leads, you tend to see better win rates, larger average deal sizes and higher customer lifetime value. If you’re focusing on the people who are best served by your solution, it’s easier to close them as customers.
This way, you’re not spending as much time selling to them and you’re going to have a higher probability of closing them. You just have to ensure your timing is right and that they’re ready for what you’re offering.
3. Prioritize Your Company Above Yourself
At New Breed, we like to say that selling is a team sport. The marketing team helps the sales team. Sales team members help each other out. All the work each individual and each team does has the same end goal: Helping the business grow.
Keep that same ideology in mind anytime you make a decision. Prioritize your customers first, then your company second, your team third and yourself last.
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's full transparency between marketing and sales. Our sales team is able to see a prospect’s digital body language, or how they’ve interacted with our content.
Knowing what blog posts they've read, what pages they've visited and what emails they've opened can give us a better sense of what they’re interested in, what their pain points are and how they came to know about us in the first place can better inform our outreach.
If we see someone is reading content about conversion strategies, then we can then look at how they are converting people on their website and provide personalized input through our initial outreach that demonstrates our understanding of their pain points and illustrates how we can address those challenges.
5. Be Data Informed
When you're a small company like us (actually — this rings true even if you're a large company), efficiencies can help tremendously. Pay close attention to your metrics and marketing funnel to 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, 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 if you're not accustomed to measuring your sales efforts, start with biannual 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 biannual ones, but should still contain 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 for each of the reports should be to show you something from a different perspective. By looking at different trends you can make smarter decisions that will improve your results in the long run.
6. Really Listen to Your Prospects
According to Mark Roberge, the former CRO of HubSpot’s Sales Division, "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?
In order to be effective salespeople, we need to be able to listen to our prospects. 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 prospects — and not just on the surface. That will shine through in your conversations, help build trust 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," as they've been made out to be slimy and untrustworthy.
So today, it's important that you foster that relationship and build trust with your prospect. A great way to do that is through education.
When we say education, we're really talking about your content. Use your blog, your premium content offers, your webinars and other content 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've helped guide toward your solution), they will begin to trust you. And once you have trust, you're much more likely to win the relationship.
To benefit the most from your educational outreach, personalize your efforts. Sending the same blog post to 20 people is just marketing. Sales is a one-on-one conversation.
Instead of sending along a blog post or webinar by itself, take a quote from a relevant content offering and apply it to your prospect specifically to provide education, leverage the content you have and still be human.
8. Focus on Helping
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?"
The truth is: features don't help you. At least in the way they're usually positioned by sales. What you really want to know is, "How is what you're selling going to solve X for me?" Essentially, you want to know how the offer will address your challenges.
As a salesperson, this differentiation is key. Rather than focusing on the features of your solution, think about how those features can help your prospect. How are you solving one of their challenges or pain points?
If you understand who your buyer personas are, then you know what their challenges and pain points are and how your solution aligns with that. This is the opportunity to focus on the benefits of your product or service — i.e., how you can make that person’s day a little easier.
When you can talk up the benefits, you'll have a much easier time convincing prospects 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 by indicating they could expect to hear from us in a few hours with a few times that worked for our next meeting. We kept finding 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 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 upon.
10. Use Your Marketing Team
Your marketing and sales teams need to be aligned. There's so much these two departments can learn from each other to help the organization reach its 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 should also share your reports with the marketing team. Full transparency will help you both be more effective.
Marketing should be enabling your sales team to be more successful. Part of that is delivering leads, part of that is enabling sales with good content and part of that is ensuring a smooth handoff. But marketing needs to work with sales to do all those things.
At New Breed, we have a revenue team instead of separate marketing and sales teams, so marketing and sales are aligned behind the same goal: generating revenue. Because marketing is measured on their contribution to revenue instead of the number of leads they generate, they’re more incentivized to bring in high-quality leads that have a high likelihood to become clients.
But if there isn’t transparency between the two teams, marketing won’t have the information they need to ensure they’re providing sales with qualified leads.
If these tips weren't enough and you want to dig even deeper into the world of inbound sales, download our Complete Guide to Inbound Sales for even more information and best practices:
This post was originally published January 8, 2014.
Topics: Inbound Sales