When it comes to sales, there is always room for improvement. Even for someone at the top of their game, a slight adjustment in their sales strategy can bring that extra bit of income in.
Sale strategies can be adapted from business to business. Essentially, you are offering a product or service to a buyer that has an interest in what you have to sell. How we improve our selling techniques for a sales proposition is key and this essentially stems from developing a great sales strategy.
Planning your sales strategy
Preparation is key in developing a successful sales strategy and this exercise gets missed out far too often. Focussing on quality is essential as quantity will not drive quality sales.
First things first. You need to plan an approach to your customer. Find as much about the customer as you possibly can before you first engage. The more you know about the customer, the better you stand in asking the ‘right’ questions. You will be able to relate your product to the customers’ needs and you will undoubtedly have a better understanding of the type of solution the customer requires.
What to research:
- Website: Read about the business, the history and what service/products they have to offer.
- Social Networking: Most companies have the likes of Linkedin and Twitter where you can conduct some background research on the person you are trying to contact and find the latest updates from the business.
- Company structure: You want to find information about the company structure, their organisation and the most up to date news from search engines.
So now you have a real accurate perception of what the customer wants to buy, you can plan your approach.
How to approach your customer to make a sale
From your customer research, you want to position your first contact with Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic and Timely objectives. A technique of object setting also known as SMART.
Effectively, SMART considers all the aspects you should be defining to make your first point of contact.
Objectives of SMART:
- Specific: Who are you selling too? What are you selling? Why are you selling the service/product? How are you offering the product/service?
- Measurable: How does your product/service compare to your competitors?
- Action: What actions are required to implement your product/service?
- Realistic: Is the product/service you are offering an achievable sale for your business? Can the business you are selling to realistically support your sale?
- Timely: You want to present your proactive approach to implementing the sale.
With these objectives and your customer research in hand, your well on your way to building a really solid sales strategy that will pay dividends when well-practiced.
Developing a sales strategy takes time and practice. Like the old saying, ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’, this represents a true resemblance of the dedication required to be at the top of the game in the sales business. Competition is high and it’s a dog eat dog world out there.
You have now built a solid base for the sales conversation. You don’t want to stop here though, you want to turn this conversation into a sales conversion.
How to position a sales call and cold calling
First impressions are everything. The first few seconds on a call can determine whether you will make a sale out of a 10 minute call.
From researching the customer and defining your objectives of the call, you will be well prepared to position your sale. There is one thing you need to prepare before you start selling your product/service. The opening line.
Here are a few pointers to keep in mind:
- A pleasant welcome: Good morning, Good afternoon etc. This is an important to start the opening.
- Say your name twice: For example, I’m James, James Ashby. This is a great way to help the customer remember who you are. In my case, the less I sound like James Bond, the better.
- Keep it short and punchy: Define who you are, who you work for and why you are calling.
- Why you are calling? Focus on the key selling point: You want to make a statement the customer will remember
Here is an example, you may use as an opening line in your selling technique:
Good morning, I’m James, James Ashby of the Corporate Sales Team at …….. I’m calling regarding your current…… We have an excellent product/service that is proven to deliver……
Personalise your opening line and practice it, be confident when you say it and integrate it as a key part to your selling technique and sales strategy.
A great sales strategy would always reveal your customers’ needs
You can create a great idea of what the customer is potentially looking for from your research, however, until you actually speak to your customer, you can’t be 100% sure what they really want.
We now approach the position of asking the right questions to reveal your customer’s needs. The questions you ask your customer, whether face to face or over the phone, will determine the angle of your sales strategy.
The best sales techniques will reveal your customers’ needs at the earliest possible time.
You should always ask open questions. With open questions you get far more information from your customer and it keeps your conversation flowing onto further questions.
Types of questions you should be asking:
- Is your customer facing a problem with their current solution? Use the opening words (Tell, explain or describe).
- Open questions: What, why, when, where, how, which etc.
- If you can offer a trial: What would be the benefit of using … We have a great …
- Defining questions: Precisely, exactly, specifically
Asking open questions and defining your customers’ pains and gains is a great way of overcoming sale objections within your selling techniques. Find out as many negative impacts (pains) your customer is facing with their current product/service and use these factors to improve your sales strategy.
What these pains and gains might include:
- Forecast reliability/Insecurity
The purpose of these pain and gain questions is to identify crucial information about your customer with their previous sales experience and undercover areas that fit their needs.
Once you have revealed all your customers’ needs, introduce the payoff. They Payoff is your sales pitch that introduces your product/service as a helpful solution to fit their needs.
Delivering your message as part of your sales strategy
When speaking about your product/service, there will be a point where your selling technique will come into play. The success of your sale will come down to how well you present your product/service to your customer.
A great selling technique is to highlight the key selling points, advantages, benefits and proof to your customer.
A great selling technique would follow the following process:
Identification of all the features:
- Your company
- Your products (where relevant)
- Your offer
Dig deeper into the advantages of your company, products and offer:
- How cost efficient is your product?
- Customer service?
- The risk involved?
- Other advantages can be product specific to your sale
Further build upon the advantages to drive the benefits of your products/service:
- These must be customer specific to fit their requirements
Once you have pitched your product, don’t forget to up sell at every opportunity. Up selling is the opportunity you have to sell in product add-ons and upgrades.
Sales techniques to overcome objections
There are many reasons why a sale might not go through for you. One of the main reasons being objections, however, there are many ways you can keep a sale by overcoming objections.
In order to be fully confident in handling objections, it is important you know your product/service inside out. You need to know; the floors, the benefits, the advantages of your competitors’ product/service and the competitors’ floors.
3 steps to overcome objections:
- Appreciate: Firstly you must accept what the customer is objecting to. Appreciate that your product/service has some floors and if they bring up competitor examples, accept these factors as well.
- Question: Ask questions around your customers concerns. Is price the only factor involved in your decision? What is included in your competitors quote?
- Confirm: Now you have the reasoning behind your customers concerns, appreciate the honesty of your customer raising the concern and deliver the reasoning behind the issue. Whether your product is more expensive than your competitors or does not offer a particular feature, turn this into a positive by identifying the unique selling points that only your product/service can offer.
It is important that you prepare for potential objections from customers in relation to products and services that you are selling. List all the factors that drive a customer to go to a competitor and think of all the possible counter arguments. When the conversation arises with a customer, which it more than likely will at some point, you will be able to fire out some great counter balances.
Things to avoid:
- Argument: Most importantly, do not argue with the customer about their concern. The reasoning behind this does not need clarifying.
- Jumping the gun: Be a great listener and appreciate their concern in full before jumping in.
- Reading from a script: Take your time in answering any concerns and don’t rush your answers. You don’t want the customer to think you have practiced these counter arguments.
One last thing to keep in mind is to focus your objection handling around value. If your customers’ main concern is the price, introduce the values of your product and justify the reasoning behind the price. What quality and service can you offer for your price that competitors potentially cannot match at your price? Identify the problems the customer may face when buying cheaper, lower quality products and services.
Closing sale techniques to gain commitment
We have covered a lot so far, however, there comes a point where all your selling efforts should come to an end with the commitment of a sale.
As a sales person, your customer will anticipate a commitment question after your sales pitch. Unless a deal naturally comes to a close, you should follow one of the following methods, depending upon your situation:
- Recognisable close: Recognise that the customer is agreeing with your sales pitch and confirming understanding of all the aspects of your sale. Close with a positive delivery question. When would you like to go live? How soon would you be ready to receive our service?
- Conclusive close: Close the deal by summarising all the points from the meeting, the pricing, the benefits, the add-ons and next steps etc.
- Multiple options: You wouldn’t want to give your customer the option of rejecting your proposal, so give the customer 2 different solution options. They are then faced with the decision of choosing between one product or the other rather than a sale or no sale
- Case closure: Have you got a great example of a successful sale implementation? Drive confidence in your prospect customer by presenting real facts about your previous implementation success. Drive the close with the promise of delivering the same outcome.
Thanks for taking the time to read my article. I hope these tips go on to help you in your future sales success.
If you go on to use any of these techniques in your future sales, please comment below and to let us know how effective these tips were. On the other hand, it would be great to know about any different techniques you use to become successful in sales. Kind regards.
Header image; Workshop Gamestorming with Sunni Brown on June 6th 2013 in Amsterdam Organized by Business Models Inc. by Sebastiaan ter Burg, CC BY 2.0.