Too often, salespeople get unfairly stereotyped as pushy, aggressive, and bad listeners; it is these misconceptions that often can lead to having a phone hung up on you mid-sentence or a door shut in your face. Any successful salesperson knows, however, that this cliché is incorrect and fruitless when trying to sell a product. Luckily, the way business is being done is changing rapidly, allowing many salespeople to finally shake the negative “used car salesman” vibe. But before you begin to celebrate, realize that changing business practices also means changing or fine-tuning some of your sales tactics, thus requiring a new set of essential sales skills.
In today’s world where almost every customer has access to an endless stream of information, what are considered essential sales skills have changed. Modern technology allows customers to painlessly do research on their own, keep up to date with relevant news and products, and explore all of their possible options. This new type of customer demands a new sales strategy and requires a salesperson to have a variety of essential sales skills to catch their attention and get them to buy.
Today, salespeople have to personalize each sale to the person’s needs and situation. The attitude in which you make your sales pitch and the context in which you present your product are key in making a sale. Below is a list of essential sales skills that will not only help you gain a potential customer’s trust and business, but also allow you to once and for all put those negative sales stereotypes to rest.
Get to know the person you’re talking to and their situation first. Listen without your own agenda, and ask questions about what they are looking for, what problems they are trying to solve, and what has worked for them in the past.
Don’t even pitch your sales product until you have done this preliminary “research”. When you do finally promote your product, you will be able to promote it in a way that is directly relevant to the customer and their specific needs. Being a good listener and learning everything you can about a customer’s situation will make them feel more appreciated and heard while ensuring you will make a more relevant pitch, ultimately increasing your own sales.
Often sales people begin talking to customers when they are already overwhelmed with information or options. Tying back in the idea of patience, it is important to know your product inside and out so you can be sure to prove why your product fits their needs in a clear, concise and intelligent way.
Time is valuable to customers, so listening closely and understanding their needs or problems is vital to help guarantee sales success. Realize that what you may think is important, or what was important to your last customer, may not be entirely relevant to next one. Tailoring your pitch in a precise way while keeping it applicable directly to the customer are both essential sales skills that will enable you to form genuine connections with your client base.
Building trust with your customer is key to guaranteeing successful sales and customer retention. Customers will respond better to a more genuine and truthful salesperson with whom they feel they can develop a strong relationship. As a salesperson, your role is to present your product objectively and clearly. Give the customer all the information he or she needs to make an educated decision for themselves. Not every customer will be a fit for your product, but understanding this and not pushing a sale that is never going to happen is key to sustaining a sincere relationship and communication style. It is not a “failure” if a customer does not buy a product, sometimes it’s simply an indicator that it did not fit their needs.
Knowing your product inside and out is not all it takes to be successful in sales. It is important to also know your competitors and your market. You must have an interest in constantly gaining knowledge and learning new things about your industry.
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Success in sales today requires you to spend time doing research on your prospective customers and on your possible competition. Building this knowledge base will keep you informed about any new developments in your industry as a whole or with specific customers. Knowing your competition more convincingly allows you to pitch your product and prove to a customer why yours could be a better choice. Use sites like LinkedIn and Quora to stay up to date with news in your industry.
A Language of Storytelling
It is more compelling and convincing for customers to hear about a product when it is surrounded by context. Rather than just listing your product’s many features or uses, try to craft these intricacies it into a story. One that describes how the product or service can make a person’s life easier. Using relevant anecdotes from your past experiences gives you credibility while directly showing a customer how your product could ease their daily tasks or problems. Narratives help customers visualize how to effectively use your product and will make your interactions seem less “sales-pitchy” and more conversational, in turn allowing you to build stronger bonds with your customers and sell more.
Sense of Urgency
Present your product in a “need to have” way. The key to closing a deal is to prove to your customer that they need your product, and they need it now. Many products may be helpful, but become things that a customer pushes to the side claiming they will revisit it later. Find out what exact problems your customer might have and show them how your product can immediately solve them. Again employ your narrative voice and draw upon past case studies to truly convince them that they must take action now without coming off as a pushy salesperson.
This is perhaps the most essential sales skill of them all. Trust in your product, and stand by your facts and experience. Eliciting confidence in your credibility does not mean you are relying on your ego to fuel the sale. Being poised and strong with your pitch and your answers will make a customer feel sure about their decision. Confidence breeds comfort in those around you, so believe in yourself and your product.
Just like confidence, passion is contagious. Being passionate will increase your credibility, your likability and, feeding off your energy, your customers will be more enthusiastic and eager to work with you. People want to be able to share in the same passion you are exhibiting, so they will be more willing to listen to what your product can do for them. It may not guarantee closing a deal, but it will create a high-spirited atmosphere in which you can pitch your product–and it never hurts for people to associate you with positive thinking and good vibes.
In the sales arena teamwork is an essential sales skill in two ways. First, work with your fellow salespeople to find new strategies and discuss what methods worked best for them. Do not be afraid to ask for advice or help and use your colleagues as resources to help expand your outlook and set of skills. Both of you will benefit and will have past experiences to combine to propose a new sales plan. Second, remember that collaboration does not end there. Working alongside your customer rather than framing it as you versus them will make them more open to your suggestions and ensure they do not feel powerless in your relationship.
We have all experienced being a customer, whether it be for high-end lab equipment used for cutting edge research or as frequent bagel-shop goer, it’s one of the common experiences people can share across the globe.With this in mind, remember how much more willing you are to buy a product or service when you feel you have connected to the seller on a more personal level.
Approaching your job as a salesperson with authenticity allows you to effectively approach the needs of each individual customer. Ask questions and learn your customers’ stories in order to prepare yourself to give them the most relevant and clear service possible. With these essential sales skills you will build honest and long-term relationships with your customers.