Sales is a constant battle for improvement. Whether it’s getting better at overcoming objections, improving your appointment setting success ratios, or increasing the number and size of deals you close, every salesperson is trying to get better every day.
By making incremental improvements in the way we operate, salespeople have a unique opportunity to see big results.
1. Be a problem solver: The best sales people do more than just dial the phone and meet with customers – they are creative, innovative, energized professional problem solvers and relationship builders. Your job is NOT to sell a company your particular service offering, rather to solve their problems. Once you change your mind set to think of your role as a problem solver, you will learn to be more tuned in to your prospects pain issues and what motivates them. Start looking at your position as a problem solver and will see a difference in your client interaction.
2. Offer information: Sales people need to constantly work to build trust with customers as part of the process of nurturing sales leads over time. One of the best ways to build trust with customers is to share the latest news, industry trends and business intelligence. If you find an article about their industry that you think would benefit the customer, share it with them – even if you didn’t write it.
3. Conquer your fear of rejection: Sales is a tough job because prospects are constantly rejecting you – hanging up, saying “no,” sometimes even acting brusque or rude. The best sales people know how to rise above the daily rejections and keep pressing forward. Remind yourself that you are a talented professional with a great solution to offer the right customers. Remember that there are a lot of customers who need what you have to offer, and that you’re going to find them and connect with them. Face the rejection head-on. After all, who cares if someone rejects you? It’s not personal. They’re just busy and don’t have time to talk, or they’ve been discouraged by too many time-wasting phone calls from other less scrupulous sales people. Customer rejection is not about you, it’s about them. The best sales people have thick skin and maintain control of their emotional state even in the face of adversity – but this unflappable nature is usually not something people are born with; it’s a way of being that is earned over time. Let the rejections go, and keep moving forward to talk to the people who will be happy to hear from you – they are waiting for someone like you to help them.
4. Ask for contact information: Sales people often find themselves on the phone with the wrong person – i.e. an administrative assistant in the wrong department, reporting up the wrong chain of command to get to your ultimate decision maker. But don’t give up just because your calling list had the wrong information – instead, be direct and ask the person on the phone to help you out. Instead of hanging up, ask the person you’re speaking to, “Could you give me the phone number for (NAME OF DECISION MAKER)?”
5. Ask for the next appointment: Every salesperson needs to constantly guide the prospect through the sales cycle. Every conversation needs to end with the sales person asking the prospect to commit to a future conversation – whether it’s on the phone, in person or via web conference. Before you can “make the ask” and close the deal, you need to make the “ask” for your next appointment.
6. Take better notes: Many sales people make the mistake of taking sparse or incomplete notes about their sales calls. Taking better notes can give you a trove of useful information for your next conversation with the customer. Write down specific details about which objections, questions and issues came up during the conversation. Not only are these details important for closing a deal with the customer in the future, but they might also be helpful for conversations with other customers. Make a list of questions, objections and challenges that you weren’t able to answer – then compare notes with other colleagues on the sales team, do some research, and follow up with the customer on a future call. Showing that you’re committed to finding the right answers will help you build trust with the prospect.
7. Learn from your colleagues: The best sales people don’t feel threatened by the successes of their peers, they celebrate team success and find a way to learn from the successes of others on the sales team. If one of your peers recently landed a big account, find out how they did it. Take your successful peers out for lunch or coffee and ask for advice on which sales techniques have been working for them. Good sales people know that success is not a zero-sum game. They will want to help other people on the sales team improve their results so that the whole team can benefit.
Being a better salesperson is often not a matter of making drastic improvements, but instead is about making smaller improvements in multiple areas over time. No matter how successful you are as a salesperson, you can achieve better results by adjusting your performance in at least one of these areas. Sales combines aspects of art and science: it’s about passion, motivation, drive, and interpersonal performance, but it’s also about managing details, monitoring a process, and striving for rigor and excellence.