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11 Tactics to Level up Your Sales Game

Illustration of a sales rep standing atop a podium and pointing toward three upward arrows: sales tactics
When it comes to closing deals, the hard sell no longer cuts it. Here are 11 sales tactics that work with today’s informed buyers to build customer trust. [Alwie99d/Adobe Stock]

When you’re trying to close deals, it’s easy to let ambition take the wheel. The best sellers, however, focus on using the right sales tactics to bring in more accounts.

Let’s face it: Hard sells and flashy demos can be effective ways to close. But not always. Today’s buyers come to the sales process more informed than ever, looking for in-depth information specific to their needs. In fact, 81% of sales reps say buyers increasingly conduct research before they reach out, according to the latest State of Sales Report. 

Shifting your focus to offering value and solutions is the way forward. Not only will this help you build trust, which makes it easier to sell, but it will open the door to long-term relationships that can lead to upsells and cross-sells. And that’s a very good thing for reps looking to beat quota.

Here are 11 sales tactics, from reading nonverbal cues to implementing AI tools, that draw on your interpersonal and strategic skills. Use them to help you build your relationships, close more, and ultimately, beat your sales targets.

Sales tactic #1: Address any elephants in the room 

Financial downturns, market shifts, and once-in-a-lifetime upheavals like the pandemic can hover over your sales organization like a storm cloud. They often lead to budget cuts, layoffs, and strategy pivots, which can make CFOs cautious and decision-makers hesitant to buy. If one of these issues is overshadowing your deal, ask your prospect if they’re willing to share how it’s affecting them. Specifically: Are they facing more responsibilities with fewer resources, and have they experienced recent budget cuts? 

Frame this conversation as a partnership. Offer to speak with the company’s CFO about financial roadblocks, or share resources to help your prospect convince decision-makers more easily. 

Sales tactic #2: Read nonverbal cues to uncover hidden needs

Active listening is the first step to uncovering a prospect’s needs: Ask questions, take a moment to process the responses, and repeat what you heard to make sure you understood the prospect. The next step? Pay attention to nonverbal cues like body language, facial expressions, and gestures, which can help you read a prospect’s emotional response to your pitch. These cues often convey concerns or doubts, but they can suggest positive responses, too, like satisfaction. Ask additional questions to confirm your impression. 

Let’s say you’re describing two different pricing structures for your product: a subscription model that can be canceled at any point, and a higher-cost outright purchase with lifetime support. As you explain the subscription package, your prospect leans forward, maintains eye contact, and nods — clear signs of interest. But when you talk about the higher-upfront-cost option, she crosses her arms and looks away. Consider asking a follow up: What pricing or budget concerns does the prospect have that you might be able to address?

Sales tactic #3: Explore AI and automation

We’ve all heard it by now: AI is the wave of the future. In sales, it’s delivering insights and handling tedious work that reps once did manually. If you haven’t already taken advantage of the AI and automation features of your customer relationship management (CRM) platform, do so. Many handle day-to-day sales work like record updates, prospect research, data entry, and even email creation. These features aren’t just nifty toys. They save time and reduce human error, which means you can focus on talking to prospects, building relationships, and customizing solutions. 

Other software features, like real-time dashboards, up-to-the-minute pipeline reports, and automatically generated sales forecasts, help those in leadership spot trends and quickly make adjustments to strategy. 

If your CRM doesn’t already have these features, ask your manager for a tech upgrade. It will be worth every penny.

Sales tactic #4: Share relevant customer testimonials and success metrics

As the latest State of Sales Report revealed, buyers are more savvy than ever when they come to a sales conversation. They’re not just doing general background research on suppliers; they spend considerable time looking for evidence that products are effective. A recent Gartner survey showed that 86% of business leaders look for verified reviews during the B2B buying process. That’s why providing relevant customer stories and case studies can help give your customers the data points they need to feel confident in the deal.

When you get to later sales conversations around product features and ROI, don’t just spit out demos. Give your prospect data that shows the impact of product features in similar industries. Add case studies to help drive your point home. For example, “BuildIt, a manufacturing nonprofit, was struggling to find customers for most of 2021. As a test, they added our pop-up banners to their home page. In Q1 of last year alone, they saw a 30% increase in conversions.”

Sales tactic #5: Differentiate yourself from competitors to show unique value

It’s not uncommon for prospects to mention competitors during sales conversations. When this happens, don’t get defensive. Thank them for offering a different perspective. Without bad-mouthing anyone, emphasize what sets you apart by noting product and performance specifics. Explain how your offerings directly address their pain points.

For example, a technically unsavvy prospect may be quick to say something like, “I was on a sales call last week with one of your competitors and they said their tool was one of the most intuitive in the industry.” An effective response might be: “I’ve heard that from others, yes! We also have some very intuitive features. In fact, we just introduced new in-app prompts that help users with setup. We also have 24/7 online support if you have any questions.”

Sales tactic #6: Communicate frequently and follow through on commitments

One of the easiest ways to end a deal? Lack of (or negative) communication. A PwC study showed 59% of customers will walk away after a couple of bad experiences, and 17% will jump ship after one negative interaction. Yikes.

Whenever you outline next steps in your sales conversations, or discuss the deliverables you promise to provide, make sure you follow through. If you can’t due to unforeseen circumstances, proactively notify your prospect with an email, phone call, or text message. They understand timelines can shift, and transparent communication goes a long way to maintaining trust. 

Sales tactic #7: If you’re struggling to close, lean on your team

Sometimes, prospects stump sellers, particularly when they ask more technical or nuanced questions than a rep can answer. Building cross-team collaboration into your sales process with a real-time messaging tool like Slack can help you navigate tricky conversations. The key is to have point people in customer service, finance, product, and marketing that you can contact if complex questions arise.

Let’s say you just launched a new mobile app to help your potential customer manage their customer service requests. They want to know how it integrates with their CRM, but you’re not entirely sure how that works. As soon as you get the question, you directly message your technical lead. They send the prospect some documentation as a starting point, and then schedule a follow-up call to answer any other questions. 

When you rely on the expertise of other departments, you can provide service that exceeds your customer’s expectations and shows your commitment to their long-term success. (Oh, and when the deal closes, be sure to give shout-outs to your collaborators and celebrate the team win.)

Sales tactic #8: Identify cross-selling and upselling opportunities 

A customer’s revenue potential doesn’t end when you close a deal. According to McKinsey, upselling and cross-selling increases sales by up to 20% and revenue by up to 30%. 

If you have a customer success team, work with them to identify customers who are highly engaged with your products or services. Then, explore opportunities to expand that engagement to new products. No such team in your organization? You can typically find this information yourself by digging into historical data in your CRM. 

If a customer is nearing the end of a contract, check your CRM or analytics tools to identify upselling and cross-selling opportunities, and make timely, personalized recommendations. For example, if they’re currently using every available seat on their software license, you can suggest it’s time to subscribe to a license with more users.

Sales tactic #9: Ask satisfied customers for referrals

According to Dale Carnegie Training, 91% of customers say they’d give referrals, yet only 11% of sellers ask for them. That’s a lot of potential revenue left on the table. 

The question most sellers have is, when is it best to ask for a referral? Short answer: After your customer is satisfied with your product or service (read: has realized significant ROI). To gauge satisfaction, check in with your customer periodically. 

Cynthia Barnes, founder of the National Association of Women Sales Professionals (NAWSP), recommends using a Rule of 3s to make sure you’re getting the information you need without nagging. Here’s how it works:

  • Three days after the sale, check in to make sure the client is satisfied with the initial purchase and product rollout.
  • Three weeks after the sale, do another quick check-in to make sure everything is going well. Make sure they’re using the product to its full potential.
  • Three months after the sale, confirm things are still going well. If so, ask for a referral.  

You can sweeten the pot by offering incentives like a small annual discount or an added feature at no cost. Make it easy for customers to send referrals by emailing a custom tracked link to your product page so you can trace any new leads back to them.

Sales tactic #10: Revisit cold leads (when appropriate)

While some leads will be a firm “no,” others may simply be a “not right now.” Make a note of prospects who might be interested in your product or service in the future — when budget allows, leadership changes, or a new, highly relevant feature is added to your product, for example. Use your CRM to create a tag or label for these leads so you can easily reference them later. 

Review these “cold” leads every quarter or so to see if new product offerings, features, or pricing might make a sale easier. If so, send a re-introduction email to let them know you’re still thinking about them. Mention the change to your product or offering that delivers exactly what they were looking for. Suggest a quick call to review.

Sales tactic #11: Use feedback to improve your sales process 

Landed the deal? Congrats. Before you jump to the next call, though, take a second to request some feedback. This lets the customer know you genuinely care about their experience, and gives you insights to sell better and more efficiently down the road. Just a quick email will do the trick, but make sure your questions take no more than five minutes to answer. 

Here are a few questions that will give you actionable feedback:

  • Did we meet all commitments made during the sales process? If not, which ones did we fail to meet?
  • Does the product/service meet expectations? If not, what expectations does it not meet?
  • How are you using our product/service?
  • What results have you seen so far? How does this compare with expectations? 
  • How else can we support you as you use our product/service?

Remember: Stay open-minded and take feedback as a gift. As Bill Gates once said, “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” If you receive positive feedback, consider how you can fold your best practices into other deals. If feedback is negative, identify areas for improvement. Take a look at your messaging, sales process, and product. Surface issues to other teams as needed to make sure the entire buyer experience — from prospecting to product rollout and support — is exceptional.

Time to beat that quota 

Whether you’re a beginning seller or a seasoned professional, these are some of the best sales tactics to level up your sales game. I’ve seen them work time and again — and have used them myself.

But these aren’t one-and-done efforts. Keep revisiting and reusing them to keep your sales momentum going strong. Also, fine-tune them as you learn what works and what doesn’t. Lastly, share what works with new reps to help them get up to speed faster. It may seem like a solo sport, but sales takes teamwork.

Audrey Harris, senior director of product marketing at Sift, contributed to this article.

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Alexine Mudawar CEO, Women in Sales

With over 10 years of SaaS sales experience, Alexine is backed by numerous President’s Club awards, which are given to high-performing salespeople who surpass quota and exceed professional goals. She’s CEO of Women in Sales, which focuses on helping women find success in sales. She’s passionate about elevating women’s voices in the field of sales to create more diverse teams.

More by Alexine

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