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Top Executives Share Important Sales Skills
1. Improve Nonverbal Communication
A majority of our communication is done non-verbally, and although the exact percentages are debated, a study done by Professor Albert Mehrabian for his Silent Messages indicates that 93% of communication is nonverbal.
Whether you are face-to-face or simply on the phone, it is just as important to have proper posture and a positive attitude as a sales person. It is easy to tell the difference between someone who is just going through the motions, and someone who believes in what they are selling. 84% of the message shared over a telephone comes from tone of voice, so it is critical to smile while you are on a call to a client. Affecting how you portray yourself and your company, mastering the skill of nonverbal communication is especially important.
If your company is stuck in a revenue rut, you need to get back to a simple, well-defined sales process. Establish an effective means of implementing the process and following up to make sure that all managers and employees understand and stick with it.
If you want to be successful in sales, be sure that your environment is not affecting the message you are trying to send. If you are working in a more-casual setting, such as your home, you can perform more professionally by dressing the part. According to an article published in Inc. magazine, dressing as if you are going into the office may help you take your work more seriously.
2. Practice Social Selling
Our dependence on technology has vastly increased as new advances are made. By having an online presence, you can establish a more-personal connection with your clients. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is quoted as having said, “People have really gotten comfortable not only sharing more information and different kinds, but more openly and with more people.”
This advancement has allowed sales professionals to do research on their prospects before ever making initial contact. Being authentic and staying involved in conversations regarding sales, or even simply sharing something your company was involved with on social media networks lets the client know you are on board with what you are doing. It also helps you establish credibility. Many employers look for your involvement in groups on sites such as LinkedIn to get an idea of your interests, and potential clients can do the same. People want to work with someone they can trust. Whether you work for a startup or a well-established big business, engaging in genuine conversation helps build that relationship without distracting from the task at hand when generating sales.
3. Listen Actively
When attempting to close a sale, you might be so focused on the numbers and your pitch, that you end up failing to pay close-enough attention to what the client is using your products or services for. By re-wording what a customer is saying and stating it back to them, you show them that you are being attentive, rather than just waiting to get the next word in.
Discover not just what they are looking for, but how soon. Is there an immediate need, or are they simply doing some price checking? If they are in the early stages, find out what they are trying to achieve by using your product, and inquire about some of the issues they may have encountered when speaking to companies offering similar services. Take note of what they value that wouldn’t be a high cost to your business. This will help you bring points to the table in the negotiation process, and achieve an agreement that will benefit everyone involved.
4. Negotiate Intelligently
Negotiation helps you take a step towards building a more long-term relationship and establishing trust. Some people worry that if you make a deal once, you’ll have to make it for the remainder of the time you are working with a client. However, this is rarely the case. If you are willing to offer a deal to a new client, they are likely to spend more money with your company in the future to get even better results.
Make sure to establish your goals and objectives before pitching the sale. It is important to do your research and set goals that are related to more than just monetary value. A small business or startup will likely have a much different budget than a nationally-ranked corporate structure, and they will also have different goals in mind. Have a discussion early in the conversation about objectives, so you are not pitching your prospective client something they have no interest in. Remember, when building a relationship, a small win is still a win.
5. Be Assertive (not Pushy)
To some, the word negotiation is the same as compromise, which can have a negative connotation associated with it. Assertion can make the negotiation process less time-consuming, but also helps set a standard for a client. There is a difference between assertion and being pushy. One portrays confidence, while the other can create tension. This will help you in the negotiation process as well. It is important to follow-up, so the client knows you are interested in building a relationship, and that you value their business.
6. Evolve the Sales Pitch
Many sales people go into a meeting ready to pitch with the mentality of getting the customer to buy their product. On the other hand, a truly savvy sales professional will know that this is not the best way to approach the situation. Instead, present the problem and the burden(s) it is creating within the company. Next present the solution, highlighting how your product is going to solve the issue. Using this approach will increase your chances of closing the sale.
You should listen attentively (as mentioned in the second point) in order to accomplish this correctly. Ask the prospective client what they would want to fix the most, and based on those answers, show them the different features that will maximise the product benefits. Knowing how to effectively position the product for their benefit will remove any objections they have about making a purchase.
7. Think Outside the Box
Often times you will find yourself struggling to close the sale even after you have attempted all the usual tactics. When this happens, don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Get creative, and consider alternative options you might not have tried before. After all, you don’t have much to lose, and you might just stumble upon the secret ‘recipe’ that this potential client has been waiting for.
Author of The Innovated Sale, Mark Dunnolo, states that “Sales creativity is not an elusive quality. It’s not for the few with natural talent—we all have it”. If it’s not something that comes easily to you, then take additional time to research and observe any available opportunity to you. Learning to hone and master this skill for the long run will ultimately allow you to overtake obstacles thrown your way.
8. Improve Your Email Skills
Even though email may no-longer be the cutting edge of communication technology, it does have other virtues, such as being perhaps the most wide-spread communication method available. 98.4% of people check their email at least once per day, and 33.8% check their email almost constantly. As such, perfecting your email technique may play a significant role in your business’ success. 33% of email recipients open emails based on the subject line alone, and by personalising emails, you can improve click-through rates by as much as 14%, and conversion rates by 10%. Another important part of improving email response rates is knowing when to send emails. The best times to email prospects are 8:00 am and 3:00 pm, and of the weekdays, Tuesday is the day that has the highest open-rate.
9. Don’t Neglect Post Sale Relationship Management
The client customer relationship you establish can have a long-lasting effect. As such, it’s important to continue the relationship long after the sale has been completed. Show your appreciation by sending follow up cards to remind the customer that you are available when needed. Once you’ve established a positive relationship with a previous client, they will be more likely to refer you to their peers, and customer referrals are seven times more likely to result in a sale.
Without a client, there is no sale. It is important to know your target audience and quickly find what their needs are, rather than just focusing on the financial aspects. The use of the above skills will not only help generate new customers, but also help to retain current clientele, and secure future transactions. By focusing on the needs of the client, you can find a solution to any objections you may encounter, and become a more efficient sales person in the process.