Every small business is looking for better ways to increase profits. After all, whether you’re starting your own business or you have been running your business for years, there’s always more to learn. We’ve talked with a wide range of sales experts in various industries to discover their secrets for closing deals and increasing revenue.
Here are the 25 top sales techniques and tips from the pros.
1. Always Follow Up With Sales Leads
Beverly Friedmann, Content & Sales Manager, ReviewingThis
I suggest actively following up. Even if your proposal, lead, or sale doesn’t work once, it doesn’t mean it’s a completely lost deal. A good rule of thumb is trying to follow up at least three times before you know you’re out of the game. I’ve politely reached out by phone before to see if there was still interest after a few days and still made a sale.
2. Develop a Consistent Sales Process
Khabeer Rockley, Founder, The 5% Institute
Most people present or pitch, hoping something will stick. This is an old method and should have been left somewhere in the 1980s. Instead, people should ask a set of carefully crafted questions to uncover pain, desire, where they’re at money-wise to fix the problem, as well as what it’ll mean if they buy and, of course, then present how your product or service solves their problem specifically.
3. Train Reps to Talk About Pricing
Joe Caprio, Vice President Sales, Chorus.ai
Pricing is usually mentioned once or twice in a cold call, though many reps are told in training to avoid this until later conversations. If your reps aren’t able to confidently navigate this type of conversation, they might flounder at the potential objection. I recommend setting up training around pricing to overcome the hurdle.
4. Understand Needs & Solve Problems
Matthieu Gauthier, Global Head of Demand Generation, Mention
Your customers probably don’t care about your product. So, when you pick up the phone, the first thing you should do is forget about your features. Let’s say you sell an HR [human resources] product. The salesperson needs to look at the prospect’s turnover, job offerings, and any other information they can find. Is turnover their biggest problem? You need to identify their top three challenges, then choose the one to focus on. Work with them to show how your solution will solve their problem.
Kiara Harvey, Sales Tech Staff Writer, Fit Small Business
Don’t feel pressured into paying for CRM [customer relationship management] features you won’t use. Research your options and choose a reliable tool that offers only what you need at a price you can afford to pay. For example, teams who don’t need workflow automation may find that Really Simple Systems is a good fit because, in addition to a free-forever plan with the basics, it offers marketing and service management tools starting at $14 per user, per month.
6. Ask for Customer Referrals
Scott Kacmarski, Founder & President, Reps Direct
Ask your current customers if they know of anyone else like themselves that could benefit from the same product or service solution. We have found that our best lead generators are our current customers because nothing positions you better to succeed than a positive personal introduction.
7. Demonstrate Expertise
Carl Mazzanti, Co-founder, eMazzanti Technologies
Show that you know how to solve your prospects’ problems so that they know it will work. You can also reinforce your credentials with references, testimonials, and case studies to help position yourself as a problem-solver. Giving talks and writing guest blog articles also helps to increase your visibility and raise your profile.
8. Go on a Listening Tour
Paige Arnof-Fenn, Founder & CEO, Mavens & Moguls
Politicians do it all the time, and it is great for business too. Make a list of the movers and shakers― people you admire and prospects. Ask a few smart open-ended questions, then sit back and take notice. They will be more than happy to tell you what is on their mind. If you listen to what they share with you, there will be plenty of opportunities to help them. I did it when business slowed and picked up several new clients, but you can do it at any time.
9. Partner With Marketing
Todd McCormick, Chief Revenue Officer, Terminus
B2B [business-to-business] marketing and sales departments have to be aligned to be successful. Every small business needs to manage lead generation and sales opportunities to close deals successfully. Unless these are balanced, business growth will suffer. This means that the value of sales and marketing are equal as they are two links in the same chain.
Lisa McGreevy, Sales Tech Editor, Fit Small Business
11. Stand Out From the Competition
LaVon Koerner, CRO, Revenue Storm
Nearly every successful small business begins with a focus on customer needs. However, at some point, usually when competitors arrive, the amount of customer demand becomes insufficient to sustain growth. At this point, your marketing and sales approaches will need to change from Demand Capture to Demand Creation. One way you can do this is to differentiate from competitors and create a standout value proposition.
12. Establish Third-party Reviews Online
Ozair Akhtar, Sales & Business Development Manager, Monily
In today’s world, nobody trusts strangers. But you can go a long way in helping build trust by publishing third-party customer reviews online so that your future customers can view what others have to say about their experience of your business. An excellent place to start is Google My Business.
13. Ask for Feedback
Felix Winstone, Co-founder, Talkative
Every lost deal is an opportunity to improve your sales approach. Were you too pushy? Was your product priced wrong? Were you talking to the wrong person? Don’t be afraid of feedback about where you can improve. Most salespeople don’t ask, and prospects are usually helpful in giving you advice.
14. Create Sales Playbooks
Josh Albert, Vice President, Business Development, Godfrey
Small businesses face turnover in their sales teams. It’s important to capture the knowledge of every team member during the time they spend with your company. Developing sales playbooks can accomplish this. Sales playbooks are an inside view of how your company should be messaging prospective customers from initial contact through their life cycle as a customer.
Jason Aten, Sales Editor, Fit Small Business
There are only so many leads you can get from referrals and industry conferences. Leverage the power of robust prospecting software to get a list of qualified leads. UpLead is software that helps sales professionals build a targeted prospect database by giving you the ability to find new customers and accelerate growth with customizable search features. Plus, it has a free seven-day trial.
16. Leverage the Power of Personalized Messages
Alyssa Ege, Owner & Lead Strategist, Sail Away Media
Social media has been huge in helping us reach new people and build connections and, as a result, land more sales. But it’s important to remember that sales is always about the human connection with your prospects. Even if it’s over the internet. Canned, templated sales messages on LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook have never worked for us. I’ve found the most success by sending personalized messages. You wouldn’t walk up to a stranger on the street and ask them to buy your services. You’d learn a little more about them first, right? It’s the same thing with prospecting online.
17. Use Impeccable Grammar & Writing Skills
Elliot Boey, Head of Content, Bitcatcha.com
Learn excellent copywriting and grammar skills. Writing to sell is a crucial skill to learn, especially when you’re selling products in a digital space. Consider enrolling in copywriting classes or learn from copywriting experts.
18. Be Sharp & Show Enthusiasm to Close the Sale
Danny Ray, Founder, PinnacleQuote Life Insurance Specialists
The best way to approach sales or a prospect is to have bottled enthusiasm, be sharp as a razor blade and, most importantly, be the best at what you do. In addition, you need to be at a level 10 of certainty as your prospect will usually start at a level five. For instance, you need to great at assuming the sale, especially if the prospect has contacted you. For example, you must be convinced that your product is the very best, and it will fill the needs gap of your prospect. Furthermore, you need it to make sense emotionally and logically. Overall, if you can have the prospect certain about you, the product, and the company. Then, they will buy.
19. Take Full Advantage of LinkedIn
Mary Clare Bland, Founder, Bespoke Digital Solutions
This is the place for B2B selling, and many small business owners neglect LinkedIn entirely or fail to use it properly. To use it correctly, start by adding connections with people that are potential clients. Send personalized connection requests.
When they respond, start your drip marketing campaign. Send them a note showing that you understand their needs, and you have a way to solve it. Follow this up with an infographic or short pitch book showing the ways you can meet their needs. Then, send a request for a phone call.
20. Mystery Shop Your Competitors
Jason Lavis, Owner & Managing Director, Out of the Box Innovations
Contact your competitors while posing as a potential customer. You can learn how they approach the sales process, what value propositions and key messages they use, and also what they say about your business to customer prospects. If you have not ever done this personally, I recommend that you do as you will be surprised what you can learn and how this can help to inform your own approach.
21. Listen to Understand Your Buyer Fully
Adeel Shabir, Content Marketing Executive, Indoor Champ
Always seek to understand the buyer. There have been multiple cases that the seller keeps promoting their products, all while neglecting to listen to what the prospect is saying or asking. Understand your prospect and make them comfortable talking with you so you can tease out their pain points and provide the most appropriate solution.
22. Be Flexible With Prospects
Andrei Vasilescu, CEO & Digital Marketing Expert, DontPayFull
When you’re having one of many sales conversations, you’re supposed to face several obstacles to convince your customer. You’ll be surprised by the different unique demands made by your customer. However ridiculous the demands be, you can never say any negative words like “no way,” “won’t,” “not possible,” “we can’t,” and so on. Using these words during a sales conversation will won’t help you develop a rapport with your prospect. Your flexibility will help you to break the defense of your customer by neutralizing any objection.
23. Be Prepared With the Prospect’s Information
Carsten Schaefer, Founder & CEO, crowdy.ai
The best sales tip I have is to have all of your leads’ information right in front of you as you make the call. Most deals are lost because sales agents are pitching the wrong offer to the wrong audience or just calling at the wrong time. The way to prevent this is to use a CRM that lets you review all of your leads’ info before and during the call. That includes the emails they’ve opened, the pages they’ve visited, the actions they took on your website, and so on. When you have everything laid out in front of you, you can adjust your pitch and you know exactly what kind of lead you are trying to sell to.
24. Create Regular Content on Your Website
Steve Pritchard, Business Consultant, giffgaff
Doing this is great for your website’s SEO [search engine optimization], helping to push your site further up Google’s rankings to increase the number of people who visit your site and buy your products. It also helps to make you an authority in your industry. Set up a blog and get writing. Offer specialist and informed advice to your target audience on issues related to your services and products as well as industry news.
25. Befriend the Gatekeeper
Cydney Koukol, Chief Communication Officer, Talent Plus, Inc.
Reading from a script to a gatekeeper is a waste of both their time and yours. Be personable and memorable because you’re hardly ever going to get through to the right person the first time. Building a relationship with someone you’ve never met isn’t always easy but doing a little bit to add a human element to the conversation will add up to a lot eventually.
Bottom Line: Sales Techniques
Selling can be a complicated skill to learn for any novice sales rep. However, sales pros have learned valuable knowledge throughout their careers that strengthen sales relationships, improve close rates, and increase revenue. Start incorporating these pro tips into your sales opportunities today.