Strategies are changing all the time—what worked well a few years ago could be a turn off to a prospect today.
To kick things off, we'll shine a light on some of the more obsolete sales methods before steering you toward a few of our sales team's fail-safes.
Out With the Old, in With the New
According to Salesforce research, 73% of sales professionals say the attention paid to sales has increased over the past five years.That is why outdated and manipulative techniques rarely produce results.
Examples of old-school sales techniques to avoid when talking to valuable prospects include:
- An assumptive close in the form of a needy sounding question. Take this for example: “So what day should we get started?” The client has not even decided to buy yet—they’re not ready for this. They also may find this approach insulting or tacky.
- An alternative close like: “Do you want that in red or blue?” This is a tweak on the assumptive close that is just as obvious and unhelpful. Questions like these used to be used to give the illusion of choice, but now they just make prospects uncomfortable.
- Offering backhanders or ‘kickbacks’ such as commissions or other incentives to prospective clients is a cheap race to the bottom and can even lead to legal issues.
- Promising more than can be delivered just to get a deal done leaves you in a weak position. The client could soon cancel the agreement or demand a refund. The “we’ll figure it out as we go” method can quickly backfire and leave your customer service department in a difficult position.
- Talking instead of listening – the old cliché of the over-confident, mouthy salesperson is outdated for a reason. Communicating is important, so listen to your prospect’s needs instead of bombarding them with sales jargon. And while you’re listening, record what you learn in a reliable CRM to make your job easier later!
Now that we know the pitfalls to avoid, let’s focus on how to do things right.
Fail-safe Closing Techniques
Sales has evolved significantly from the days when those aforementioned tactics might have produced short-term gains. Now progressive sales teams strive to collaborate and educate, with clients expecting accountability, strong results and flexibility from providers.
Here are eight of the most effective contemporary selling techniques that really help close deals, gathered from leading industry experts and Salesforce teams:
- Help your client achieve their goals.
This gets you into the right mindset for closing deals from the word go. As sales expert Walter Rogers explains, “Stop thinking about what you can sell the customer and start focusing on how you can help them reach their goals.”
The same Salesforce study mentioned above found that 78% of sales teams say they are now more focused on anticipating customer needs. Collaborating and empathising with clients allows you to build trust with leads and become a preferred provider.
- Educate your prospect with new ideas.
Teach your prospect something they didn’t know. This gives them a reason to buy from you and consult with you more often.
As John Doerr, sales guru and President of Rain Group, stated in an interview with Salesforce, “Buyers don’t need to be validated about something they already know is a good idea. It’s the newness of the idea or perspective that they find important”
- Patience, Grasshopper.
Immediately offering a discount is not the best practice. It’s important to demonstrate the value of your service before lowering prices. Sometimes the client just wants to see a small gesture of goodwill before signing, so factor this into the process up front.
Marketing expert and columnist Rohan Ayyar explains, “Give a discount to someone who tends to bargain. Customer acquisition cost: a bit higher. Customer ego boost: priceless.”
- Befriend the gatekeepers.
A personal recommendation from a colleague, peer or friend is a strong purchasing factor. Understand who the influencers are for any decision maker and demonstrate the qualities of your offer to them too.
Again, Rohan Ayyar puts it perfectly: “Make friends with their friends (read: gatekeepers). Even the busiest decision maker can't resist a personal recommendation.”
- Demonstrate proven results.
Using data, case studies and testimonials to show the results you have achieved for existing clients is a simple and effective tactic. Being good at demonstrating potential ROI for customers is one of the best sales techniques to have in your locker.
- Utilise smart technology.
Matt Heinz, president of Heinz Marketing, told Business Insider, “Tech for tech's sake doesn’t help you win deals. Tech that makes you faster, smarter, more effective, more efficient — that's the tech you need.”
Sales management software is a perfect example of this.
- Prioritise buying process over sales process.
One standout piece of advice Geoffrey James offers in his article for Inc is to let the buying process trump the sales process. He explains that adapting your activities to match the client’s buying process makes it easier for them to make a purchase.
Flexibility in your sales process can help you close deals faster.
- Map it to the situation. Over-reliance on specific sales closing techniques can be a hindrance. If one particular sales strategy is proving unfruitful, change the approach to close the deal. You need to have more than one string to your bow.
A Flexible Approach is Best
Using obsolete closing techniques - such as bombarding or tricking your prospects - often does more harm than good. Instead, focus on the proven selling techniques which yield results in the current day business environment.
Collaborate with and educate your potential clients. Join their circles of influence and show them how your product or service will deliver the ROI they require.
Flexibility is key: adapt your sales process to their buying process and always be willing to consider a new strategy when closing a deal.
This post is part of our Navigating the Sales Cycle series. Download the e-book and discover the 7 steps to sales success.