Businesses expect consistent sales to grow, whether that means strengthening existing business relationships or acquiring new customers. Therefore, relying on effective sales techniques is critical for any salesperson. We reached out to professionals across several industries and asked them to share their most successful selling techniques.
Here are the top 25 sales techniques from the pros:
1. Develop a Strong Personal Brand
Syed Irfan Ajmal, Speaker and Columnist, Syed Irfan Ajmal
My favorite sales strategy: Growing a strong personal brand online through writing, podcasting, webinars and speaking locally/internationally to an extent where I am seen as the ultimate authority, thought leader, expert and influencer within my niche. This results in inbound sales leads rather than me having to do any cold calling or expensive ads.
2. Ask Unscripted Questions
Chris Smith, Co-founder, Curaytor
Always script about four to six qualifying questions that you can use on every call. However, the money is made by asking questions that aren’t scripted — the “digging deep” questions. As your lead or customer answers each one, channel your inner child and ask more questions. This will help you hone in on his or her emotional and logical reasons for buying.
3. Approach Sales like Dating
Elaine Turcotte, Sales Coach & Master NLP Coach, Courageous Living
Not every client or date is going to be a great fit. Sometimes, you’re going to meet some frogs. When I’m asking great questions to sort for my ideal client, I don’t spend any time convincing a prospect to come to the negotiating table. It’s easy to know if we’re going to move forward to a second date or not.
4. Network and Create Real Relationships
Olivia McShea, Co-founder, Livalit Travel
Despite what our obsession with technology may lead you to believe, people are just looking to connect with other people and build relationships with them. If you are patient enough, networking and creating real relationships where your first objective is to get to know the person instead of selling to them will create more authentic and stronger leads in the future.
5. Focus on Providing Insights
Andy Payment, Principal & Founder, Symbiom
I focus on building my network and providing insight, information and counsel that helps people better understand how to solve their sales and marketing challenges. This leads to proposals in a way that never feels like “selling.”
6. Create a Simple Sales Process
Allison Bethell, Real Estate Staff Writer, Fit Small Business
One of the most important sales techniques is to keep things simple. Your sales process is no exception, keep it simple, so you minimize wasted time and maximize productivity. A [customer relationship management tool] CRM like Pipedrive can help you visualize your process. This tool lets you see each opportunity in your sales pipeline and helps eliminate the chance of missed leads.
7. Be Free with Your Advice
Stan Kimer, President, Total Engagement Consulting
My favorite sales strategy is to volunteer to speak and offer workshops at conferences and other venues around my areas of expertise. This way, a large audience of professionals sees my expertise in and passion for my consulting areas quickly. I collect business cards and do a drawing for books about the topic I am speaking on, and then follow up with email thank yous and my monthly e-newsletter to stay on their radar for when they may need my expertise.
8. Differentiate from the Competition
Srajan Mishra, CEO TSI International
My favorite sales strategy is to study your competition thoroughly. It helps to identify new and unique opportunities to distinguish yourself from them. Most times, the smallest details give you the edge over the competition.
9. Listen with Genuine Interest
Kirk Bates, Founder, Market 248
I have found that by listening carefully and with genuine interest to be the true answer to the question, “What does this person really want?” reveals itself, making the actual sales process much smoother. In the end, it’s not what you say that makes the sale, but what you hear.
10. Conduct a Four-stage Assessment
Kena Fuller, Founder, Fuller Management Corporation
First, get to know/understand the present state of the prospect or situation. Second, learn of what the ideal best case scenario or wish list consists of. Third, identify the bottleneck — what hinders progress. Finally, identify the win, and formulate a preliminary plan.
11. Map Service Offering to Client Needs
Kent Lewis, President & Founder, Anvil Media Inc
We audit a prospect’s online presence and provide sample recommendations that identify areas for improvement. Then, we map our services to the gaps and other needs, and that usually leads to a proposal.
12. Look for Patterns in Past Success
Evan Tarver, Business Finance Editor, Fit Small Business
Analyze the deals that were won and the projects that were completed successfully. Look for common factors to help improve prospecting. Insightly includes project management tools in addition to sales analytics that can help you understand past patterns better, including what’s working and what’s not working.
13. Be Specific, Not Salesy
Kevin Tash, CEO, Tack Media
Our favorite sales strategy is not to be salesy and instead be very specific when we propose tailored marketing strategies for our clients. We provide them with figures or projections that capture their goals instead of making empty promises that overpromise and underdeliver. Our clients love it that we let them speak directly to an account manager who works on managing client efforts and engage more.
14. Humanize the Customer Experience
Joe Alexander, CEO & Founder, Nest Bedding
We do this by introducing ourselves with a handshake, offering our name, getting our customer’s name and using his or her name, so we don’t forget it. Most people don’t realize but that simple act of a handshake — human touch — is something many people don’t experience on a daily basis. Once we change the interaction [from salesperson and customer] to two human beings, it goes much smoother.
15. Challenge Your Customer’s Preconceptions
Matt Lee, Director of Business Development, Obility
I like using the “challenger sale” — pushing your prospect outside of his or her comfort zone to teach something new and challenge the current thought process. Customers don’t always know what they need, so acting as a partner rather than a vendor in that way shows you’re serious about getting them exactly the right solution.
16. Give the Customer What They Want
Andrew Schutt, Owner, Elevated Web Marketing
Most sales strategies focus on persuasion when they should be focused on providing value to the customer by solving their problems. If you show your customers that you’re genuinely helping them solve their unique problem instead of trying to persuade them to buy your generic product or service, you’ll provide more value to your customers and close more deals.
17. Provide Personalized Offers
Jared Barnett, Agent, Compass
When it comes to capturing my client’s interest, I always recommend personalizing an offer with a brief bio about yourself. If a seller receives multiple offers around the same price, rather than being just another number, you have a better chance of standing out if the seller reads information about you and gets to know who you are.
18. Use Email to Create a Sense of Urgency
Krista Fabregas, e-Commerce Staff Writer, Fit Small Business
By making it clear that readers will miss out on an opportunity, people are more likely to be inclined to listen to what you have to say. Keep your email lists clean and spam-compliant with a tool like Toofr, which can verify they are active inboxes and offer readers limited-time promotions, helping to increase your delivery rate and open rate.
19. Pay Attention to Psychological Triggers
Jeff Butler, Founder & CEO, JButler International
Many psychology triggers fall into credibility factors. For instance, have a strong website with good associated logos and testimonials that people relate to. To capture client interest, we put a lot of work in the awareness process of the sale cycle and ensure that each psychological trigger is covered. If those are covered, when we get on the phone with a prospect, all of those credibility triggers are met, so it’s an easy sale.
20. Follow Through on Your Promises
Julie Gurner, Real Estate Staff Writer, Fit Small Business
The selling process is easier when potential clients are confident that they are working with a reliable partner. Make sure you write down what you’ve said you’d do after every meeting or phone call. Set reminders for yourself and always follow through.
21. Paint a Picture of a Better Tomorrow
Drew Bonder, Director of Business Services, Turning the Corner, LLC
Ask them to imagine what life will look like after the problem is fixed, and map out how quickly the prospect can experience life differently. When done right, they can’t get started soon enough. Even the most analytical person is practically jumping out of his or her seat, wanting to “get it done.”
22. Take Advantage of the Fear of Loss
Katherine Scarim, Broker Owner, Island Bridge Realty
People want what others want. Therefore, when working in real estate, it is best (with seller’s permission) to hold off showings to build up anticipation and assure multiple showings occur at the same time or at least back-to-back. This method speeds up offers and increases the initial offer price as buyers worry that tough negotiations will result in losing the home to one of the other prospective buyers they saw visiting the property.
23. Make Your Prospects the Hero of Their Story
Chad W. Meyer, Executive Vice President, Sales Xceleration
You do that by asking questions and figuring out how best to serve them. Who wants to hear a story about their business and have it revolve around someone else? It isn’t about you — it’s about them. The way to find out what they need is to ask them, and then follow through to make it happen.
24. Be Honest in Your Dealings
Ben Taylor, Founder, HomeWorkingClub.com
It’s best to build relationships on solid foundations, yet many companies will say anything to “get their foot in the door” — sometimes to the point of knowing that they won’t quite deliver what the customer wants. Sales based on honesty and candor lead to solid relationships and plenty of repeat business, instead of a constant churn of customers.
25. Do What Is Right for the Customer
Josh Skinner, Sales Manager, TINYpulse
My strategy is to help the customer in whatever way possible. Whether the customer closes with us or not, as long as we do what’s best for them, they’re going to remember forever that when our product is the right fit, we’re the right company for them.
The Bottom Line
While there are several sales techniques to choose from, an authentic customer-based approach is the most effective means of getting a customer to the negotiating table. Once there, a tool like Pipedrive can help you keep up with promises made along the way. By making the deal more about what is in it for them and less about what is in it for you, you are more likely to be seen as a potential partner, and the “selling” often takes care of itself.