As a business owner, you are the most qualified person to make a compelling sales pitch for your company and its products. After all, nobody knows your business's mission, value and products better than you do. But do you know the best techniques for making the sale? This guide includes tips for improving your sales process.
What are the techniques of selling?
There are countless articles you can find online about the most effective sales techniques. If your current sales strategy isn't resulting in easier and faster sales, you have two strategies available to you.
The first strategy is to thoroughly review your current sales technique. Is your sales pitch compelling to potential buyers? Are you clearly demonstrating how your product or service can solve consumers' problems?
The second strategy is to mix and match multiple techniques to converts leads into buyers. Below are some techniques you can use to create a winning hybrid sales technique for your company.
Tips to improve your sales process
Research your customers.
To ensure leads advance along the sales funnel, you need to know as much as you can about the people you're selling to. You can use social media tools, web analytics, data from your competitors and industry, and feedback from existing customers for this purpose.
In the modern age, selling happens online, too. It's not unheard of for salespeople to reach out to a potential client on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. This technique can also be especially powerful for selling to existing customers, who may be elated to hear directly from the business owner.
Determine the buyer persona.
Using your customer research results, define a buyer persona for your business. A buyer persona is a description of your ideal customer based on market research and existing customer data. You can modify your sales approach based on your buyer persona.
Prioritize qualified leads.
Investing your energy into prospects that closely fit your ideal customer profile will yield bigger sales results with less wasted effort. Compile lists of qualified prospects, and track your sales activity. Record information about the person you spoke to, the nature of the conversation, what you found out and when you will contact them again. Consider using a customer relationship management (CRM) tool to log these interactions. You will discover the types of industries and decision-makers that make it the easiest for you to close a sale.
Your prospect list should include mostly people you believe are likely to buy within your business sales cycle so you can focus your attention productively. Move leads that have no indication of progress into a more passive sales tactic, such as emails that are sent every few months.
Know the benefits of your products and services.
Some people view sales pitches as attempts to convince people to buy things they don't need or want. But you're a business owner, and you believe in what you have to offer. If you can verbalize those benefits to others in a succinct way, you're ready to sell.
Shift your mindset away from selling and toward helping people improve their lives. List the features you genuinely believe could benefit customers. Hang the list in a place where you'll notice it daily, such as your bathroom mirror or your car dashboard. The more top-of-mind these points are, the more comfortable you will feel incorporating them into sales conversations. If you have an online store or business, make sure to state the benefits of your products on your website or online store.
Maintain specific goals for each sales call.
As David Epstein, author of The Sports Gene, learned in his research about the factors that determine who will be superior athletes, success is closely linked to setting specific goals. Setting sales goals and detailing exactly how each call should be approached leads to intentional conversation, whether your mission is to learn more about a client, to understand what their current provider offers that you do not or to arrange a face-to-face interaction. Your specific action steps will change repeatedly, but taking the time to include this extra bit of detail could be the difference between time spent wisely and time wasted.
Be an active listener.
Selling isn't about talking; it's about listening to a potential customer. Listening helps you understand who they are, what challenges they face and what problems you may help them solve. In fact, the experts at Sales HQ recommend you apply the 80/20 rule to sales: You should be talking during only 20% of the interaction and listening for the rest.
Be an information sponge.
The broader your interests are, the better your ability will be to "speak the language" of any prospect. Commit to learning one thing that's outside of your comfort zone each week. If you typically read the sports section in the newspaper, skip to the lifestyle articles one day. If you usually listen to rock on the drive to the office, tune in to news radio for a few mornings instead. The more you learn, the more you can connect with a wide range of people and keep the conversation flowing, thanks to your breadth of knowledge.
Opt for "you," not "we," phrasing.
It may be tempting to try to group yourself in with your potential client. However, this approach can actually disrupt your movement along the sales funnel. Instead, choose "you" over "we" phrasing to compel your potential buyer to take decisive action – namely, buying your product.
Practice asking questions.
To learn more about customers' needs, you have to be comfortable asking open-ended questions without feeling pushy. Practice first with friends and family. Encourage them to ask honest questions about any aspect of your business they do not understand or see as beneficial. The more practice you have with "curveballs," the better prepared you will be to change the course of the conversation as needed on sales calls.
Create a customer service experience.
For traditional sales, a customer service experience can begin before a potential buyer joins your pool of existing customers. While making your sale, show how you plan to guide your potential client through setting up, using and seeing results from your product. If your business is an online store, it's even more important to demonstrate caring, responsive customer service, as people may be more likely to buy from your online business if they know they can contact you with questions and concerns, and expect to hear back quickly.
Leverage useful sales tools to drive success.
Purchase hesitancy is a reality of the sales-and-buying cycle. Support your sales efforts with tools that allow you to take action as soon as the customer is ready to buy. Mobile payments, for example, allow you to securely process customer payments from anywhere, using a credit or debit card. A CRM allows your sales team to track interactions with prospects and determine how close they might be to a buying decision. Some CRMs even include automated tools that help to establish follow-up interactions.
As a business owner, you already have the grit, determination and passion needed to be a sales superstar. Use these steps to practice speaking with customers and asking questions about their needs, and arm yourself with the tools to turn their "yes" into a bona fide sale.
Additional reporting by Kristen Gramigna.