Many roles — not just strictly sales jobs — require you to be good at sales in order to succeed. While closing deals may be second nature to some people, it isn't always easy for everyone. However, with a few tips and tricks, anyone can be good at sales. Read on to learn techniques, strategies and more to help you close sales.
You have to understand your product before you can expect to convince anyone else to buy it. This means getting to know your product, offering or service firsthand. Only by knowing your product inside and out will you be able to answer potential customers' questions.
Customers are busy people, and they don't want to sit around listening to an hour-long presentation to understand your product when they're first getting to know you. Developing a 30-second to minute-long pitch to explain what you're selling as quickly as possible is crucial to grabbing potential customers' interest. Bonus points here if you can distill your pitch down even more — a single-sentence pitch is incredibly powerful if you can manage it!
Casting a wide net to try to reach anyone and everyone is, by and large, not a particularly successful sales strategy. Instead, you should invest some time into researching your market. Based on your research, you can figure out what types of people (or companies, depending on what you're selling) are your ideal target demographic. From there, you can proceed to the next step.
Once you've identified your targets, do your due diligence to understand what they may be looking for. Visit their web sites and LinkedIn profiles, read their company brochures, talk to shared connections and do whatever else you can to understand each target's wants and needs.
While it might be tempting to send generic blast communications out to as many prospects as possible each time you're looking to make a sale, this is the wrong approach. People and businesses like to know that they're valued as individuals and that the people trying to earn their business understand who they are. Given this, sending a few personalized emails that discuss specific prospects' needs each day is much better than sending generic emails to large email lists on a daily basis.
Once you've gotten your foot in the door, you want to capitalize on the opportunity by delivering a stellar sales pitch that'll leave your prospect saying, "We have to buy this!" A clear, concise message that communicates what your product brings to the table is the best way to achieve this. To achieve this aim, you'll want to hone your message beforehand and practice it a few times, ideally with an audience, before the big day.
In many cases (especially in the case of large purchases), a sales presentation is only the first step in closing a sale. After you've presented to a potential customer, you'll want to ensure that you're following up on a regular basis and nudging the conversation forward to the next step, whether that be submitting a proposal, scheduling a meeting with a higher-level decision maker or taking another step to move your product forward in the client's purchase process. It's also important not to cross the line into being annoying — so be judicious and friendly in your follow-ups. Even if a sale doesn't materialize immediately, checking back in 2-3 months later can sometimes yield results because people and business' situations change.
Following a few useful tips can also help you make more sales. In general, communicating your product or service's benefits, rather than its features, will help you close sales. Customers are, generally speaking, much more interested in benefits over features. With this in mind, following these tips will help you focus on benefits over features:
While a feature is what the product or service "is" or "does," a benefit is something that it "means" or "provides" to the customer.
People will understand products' benefits more when they're obvious from the get go. To help prospects understand what you're selling, you need to clearly communicate ideas as simply and efficiently as possible.
Since most people can only hold two to three thoughts in their short-term memory at once, long lists of benefits won't benefit you (pun intended) in your sales mission. Rather than overwhelming prospects with long lists of features that they won't remember in any case, identify one to three key product benefits that you want prospective customers to know, and hammer them home.
Knowing that people struggle to retain large volumes of information, it'll behoove you to repeat your key product benefits at least once in your sales pitch. You don't want to be repetitive (so you should vary how you talk about the key benefits), but you do want to be sure to repeat key ideas so people pick them up and retain them after your conversation.
When customers understand the precise value of a potential purchase through real-world examples and hard numbers, they're more likely to believe your message. So, try to illustrate how your product will benefit the specific customer you're talking to and provide real-world examples of benefits your product has provided to other customers.
Differentiating yourself from your competition is an important part of selling your product. If a customer doesn't see the difference between two similar products or offerings, odds are they'll simply choose the cheaper of the two options — but if one product seems to offer compelling advantages over the other, they're more likely to consider differences in features when they make their purchase decision.
Armed with this seven-step methodology and six tips for sales success, you, too, can crush your sales goals. Careful preparation, good research, a compelling story and tenacity can make anyone — including you — a sales whiz.
Lorelei Yang is a New York-based consultant and freelance writer/researcher. Find her on Twitter and LinkedIn.