Sales can be complicated! Even career sales professionals find being a good salesperson can be frustrating and complex. Different factors contribute to sales complexity: being able to find the right lucrative opportunity, having access to the right resources, selling the right product or service that appeals to businesses and consumers, developing effective lead generating techniques, and learning how to navigate through a complex sale. I have watched sales professionals expend an enormous amount of energy making sure all these aspects align so they achieve the success and income they desire and deserve.
One factor in achieving sales success that is the absolute most essential but most frequently ignored is the “human factor.” The two most important and critical components to a successful sales process are the individual salesperson and the individual customer, no matter what the product or service being sold.
As humans, we have different personalities, tendencies, habits and quirks that can simplify or utterly complicate sales. At the end of the day, salespeople must recognize that when all of the other variables in the sales process are stripped away, the two constants that will always dictate sales success or failure are who is selling and who is buying. Accept this fact and sales suddenly becomes less complicated. Why? Because now sales is all about your desire to sell and their desire to buy.
With literally thousands of different sales techniques and philosophies that salespeople attempt to master, we find ourselves using trial and error, sampling and tasting until we think we’ve mixed the right sales cocktail that will increase our closing ratios. However, as a sales leader, coach, and the “Ultimate Sales Assassin,” I have found that the most effective sales techniques to produce results and achieve desired outcomes focus on the human factor and the emotions that drive desired behavior. These are:
- Make an impression.
- Make connections.
- Build relationships and build trust.
This requires that salespeople perfect the techniques that get them in front of their potential customer and make them likable and, above all, persuasive.
The Top Five Sales Techniques
#1 – Sell yourself. My one universal concept that never varies or wavers no matter if the sales business is B2C, B2B, retail, real estate, insurance, technology, securities or manufactured goods: Selling is not about selling your product or service; it’s about selling yourself. That doesn’t mean the salesperson doesn’t need product knowledge or doesn’t need to create value to influence the close. But consider this: Having an A+ product with A+ product knowledge means nothing if the salesperson can’t even advance to the presentation.
First and foremost, the salesperson must think of himself as his product. And what attracts consumers to a product? The packaging, its features, its price, its guarantees. Manufacturers design and market their goods with consumer appeal uppermost in their mind. A salesperson must market himself in the same manner. After all, the salesperson is the manufacturer of his product, which is himself, and he can attract the buyer to himself by dressing for success and channeling confidence and charisma from within. It’s important to make an impression. Be unique. Be distinctive. Be remembered or be forgotten. Remember the saying: “You only get one chance to make a first impression.”
#2 – Make the prospect comfortable. There’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance, persistence and annoyance, being knowledgeable and being a know-it-all. A salesperson must know where and when to draw that line. It is critical that the salesperson make the customer want to engage with him and do business with him. Even with today’s online researching and buying trends they will not buy from a person if they do not like him and trust him.
#3 – Master “The Art of Asking Questions Without Asking.” A salesperson must make a connection with his buyer. This starts with getting the buyer off the defense and extracting as much information as possible in order to assess his needs — without him even realizing it. The best advice to new salespeople is, learn how to open up the dialogue and then learn how to listen. Listening is a skill; not everyone is born with the ability to listen. But to improve sales skills, a salesperson must learn and practice listening skills. Having smoothly gathered all the info needed for the closing arsenal, the salesperson can then move into the close.
Remember: LISTEN and SILENT are spelled with the same letters. Think about it.
#4 – Isolate the buyer’s hot spots. Create value, create need and create solutions for the potential buyer. In today’s buying cycle, the vast majority of buyers have done their online research before they ever speak to a salesperson. They asked for recommendations, they’ve Googled the company and even the salesperson himself, and they have decided that they want to hear his pitch. It will be a mistake to waste their time — an effective salesperson will hone in on what is actually important to them and then be prepared to give them the solutions they are looking for, not a pitch he’d been preparing for months.
That’s not to say the salesperson shouldn’t have his big pitch ready; a Sales Assassin is always prepared to change course to meet the buyer’s needs. The buyer knows his problem, but a good salesperson has the solution. A buyer may be very clear that he needs to purchase ABC, but a good salesperson is prepared to explain why XYZ is the real solution for the need. This is not to be confused with up-selling; cross-selling is solving problems the client may not even realize he has, or known that the particular salesperson could solve. Refer to #3: LISTEN.
#5 – Recognize emotional drivers and negotiate accordingly. A good salesperson should not be so preoccupied with his own goal to reach the finish line that he fails to identify his potential buyer’s signals. His focus should be pitching a product to the prospect to solve that prospect’s problem — not to solve his own. So when the prospect is giving clues as to what he may be thinking or feeling, the salesperson needs to recognize that this is what drives him to make his final buying decisions. In reality, we all know salespeople do have to solve their problems: meeting quota, a family to support, a sales manager watching their every move. But that’s the salesperson’s problem, not the client’s. Once a salesperson makes his problems the client’s, he is sure to lose the relationship and the sale. So tune in and negotiate accordingly.
Once a salesperson has solved the client’s problem, he is that client’s hero — and go-to sales rep.
Anthony Caliendo is the author of The Sales Assassin – Master Your Black Belt in Sales. His success over the past 25 years in generating hundreds of millions of dollars in sales revenues and training thousands of sales pros in various industries he attributes to having learned to look ahead, read and understand the trends and dynamic forces that will shape the sales business in the future and to move swiftly to prepare for what’s to come. He is currently president and CEO of Caliendo Foods & Imports, Inc.; owner of Light ’Em Up Cigars in Delray Beach, Fla.; and global vice president of Sales & Marketing for JVM Sales Corp./Milano’s Cheese.