As a Sales Manager, you should keep your knowledge of sales techniques up to date with the latest research to get the most out of your team. Learn more from our list of techniques you can teach today.
The single most important aspect of running an effective sales team is ensuring that your salespeople have all the resources available to close and convert as many deals as possible. As any salesperson would tell you, closing deals is as much an art as a science. Some people seem to be born with the ability to sell and for others it can take years of practice to find which sales techniques work for them.
Regardless of which end of the sales spectrum your team members are on, it’s always worth keeping your staff armed with the latest techniques to maximise on their opportunities.
#1 Stop talking!
What is the image that comes to mind when you hear “salesperson”? Most likely, it’s an immaculate suit and non-stop talking, convincing and “giving you the sell” until you, exhausted from the experience, give in and buy something.
This is a common stigma held by your potential customers, and one unfortunately perpetuated by salespeople who haven't mastered the sales technique of active listening. In short, your staff should spend much more time listening to their clients than talking at them!
There are a few steps to active listening that when employed well, make it much easier for your staff to establish their contacts genuine problems and needs, and recommend solutions that will make for a long and fruitful relationship.
This means actually listen! Rather than jumping straight in when you smell a sales opportunity, take the time to listen and understand your contacts issues. Allow them to explain in detail their situation and develop the description in full. More often than not, your salesperson will realise that the solution they would have initially jumped in with might not be the best fit.
This notion of a “best fit” cannot be understated. It is this natural gelling between problem and solution that ensures your customer comes away fully satisfied, leading to future sales.
Of course, listening does not mean sitting in silence. Prompts might be needed in order to get your contact to fully open up, this could just be a nodding of the head to demonstrate that you are listening and understanding them, or it could be a simple “mm-hm”.
All that’s important here is to fully understand your customer’s story, and to ensure that they know you are engaged and listening.
Feedback is the cornerstone of communication, and ultimately a sales pitch is simply that; communication between two parties. Giving feedback is much simpler than one might assume, and should be used throughout the conversation.
The aim of giving feedback is just to ensure that there is no confusion in the communication process, that both parties have the same understanding of a situation. This can be done with ease throughout the conversation simply by repeating back what the contact has said either verbatim or paraphrased. For example:
Contact: “I just have no visibility of our sales process, I don’t know how my team are performing or how many opportunities we have. There’s no system in place for it.”
Salesperson: “So you don’t currently have a system in place for monitoring things like your sales opportunities or team performance?”
Following on from this, it is always wise to confirm that you have correctly understood what your contact is telling you. This could simply come in the form of “Have I understood that correctly?” or “Does that sound right to you?”
Next is the stage at which your salesperson will have the opportunity to develop and steer the conversation. Follow-up questions should not be overly pushy or loaded. Remember, the aim here is still to gain a further understanding of the issue and determine that your solution is the best fit for the customer.
Contact: I just have no visibility of our sales process, I don’t know how my team are performing or how many opportunities we have. There’s no system in place for it.
Salesperson: So you don’t currently have a system in place for monitoring things like your sales opportunities or team performance? Is this correct?
Contact: That’s right.
Salesperson: Do you think it would be of value to you to have all of this data on one system?
After the conversation has reached the closing stage, the customer should not necessarily feel as though they have been sold to. Rather, they should feel as though the two of you have undertaken a problem solving journey together- you or your salesperson has taken the time to understand the problem, and has facilitated the correct solution rather than pushing an ill-fitting one in place.
#2 Open those questions up.
So this is an age-old selling technique used by the very best salespeople, but it’s an important one to remind yourself and your team of. The whole idea of the sales pitch should be about communication and as we’ve mentioned above, it’s your prospect that should be doing most of the talking.
However, not everyone your team will meet will be natural conversationalists and may need a little help in opening up. Let’s demonstrate this:
Salesperson: Have you considered a CRM system as a central place to monitor your sales process?
Salesperson: Ok, well a CRM…..
As you can see from above, by asking a closed question (a question that is usually answered with Yes or No), your salesperson is cornering themselves into giving a traditional pitch. They are selling to an audience which is listening only, there is no two-way traffic involved in problem solving.
Salesperson: A CRM system is a great idea for monitoring sales processes. Which element of your current process are you having most difficulty with?
Contact: Well, getting a sense of what opportunities in the pipeline is always a challenge for us because….
By using open questions, not only have we gotten the prospect to engage with the salesperson, we are also getting a much better sense of the pains experienced by them. This gives us greater scope to offer a solution that is perfect for them.
#3 Think Bigger Picture.
So there are a million well known sales techniques out there. Dress well. Speak confidently. Maintain eye contact. Whilst all good advice and goes someway to closing more deals, perhaps it might be time to think bigger. It might be time to rethink your whole sales method.
There are various sales methodologies out there with focuses on different elements of the process, but ultimately all aiming at the same thing- closing more deals.
Our personal favourite is the Inbound Sales methodology which closely joins sales actions with a buyers journey, ensuring that all prospects are nurtured until they are ready to buy. Using this method, your sales team can expect to close more deals more often!
The Inbound Sales methodology comprises of four sales actions.
The key here is prioritisation. Buyers can be classified as Active or Passive Buyers. It is the active buyers that are of most interest; these are the prospects that are visiting certain pages on a website, completed an online form or otherwise finished an action which signifies intent.
Once identified, your salespeople can then reach out to the prospects. This connection should be highly personalised depending on the contacts role, industry etc. It could be a message on social media, an email or at a trade show. The important thing is that you have done your research into the prospect; why would they want to hear from you? What would they want to discuss? How can you bond with the prospect?
This is the stage at which the act of problem solving is introduced. Using techniques such as active listening, your salespeople should explore the pains experienced by the prospect and highlight potential solutions. As well as this, your reps should be establishing any budgetary or time restraints. The explore stage should be used to find out all relevant information to ensure that their offering is as closely matched to the customers needs as possible.
The advise stage is what can be considered the pitching stage of the process. All of the information accrued in the earlier stages should now be pieced together to offer a highly personalised solution. The prospect should feel as though the solution offered is designed completely for them, and the best possible fit.
This is the stage where your salespeople can truly shine in their pitching capabilities, always being mindful of listening and understand their prospect throughout!
Getting the most from your sales techniques
Keeping the selling techniques of your team sharp is an important element of sales team management, and should lead to higher closing rates for your department. Of course, sales techniques are just one part of a much larger process; there are many levels to Sales Management that you can refine and improve upon to get the most out of your team.