Are you looking for sales strategies and tips to help boost your business? Being a successful salesperson takes both hard work and the right skills, but it is possible to improve your performance with the proper tools.
We believe that every good salesperson (or any person at all) always has room to grow in their role and improve their skills. That's why we invest so much in the continued education of our team, encourage them to take time out of their days to read industry publications and let them test their ideas — all in confidence that they'll use this information to get better at what they do.
Our salespeople have learned a lot along the way, so we decided to share some of our tips with you. Here are our top 20 sales techniques to help you perfect your craft and drive results.
1. Understand Your Market
Above all else, you can't be an effective salesperson if you don't understand who you're selling to and what the market landscape looks like. We're not talking about just knowing their name, title, company name, website URL and email. We're talking about really understanding what makes them tick.
What does a day in the life of your prospect look like? What challenges are they facing? What could make their life easier?
Gaining this knowledge about your prospect will help improve your understanding of how they can benefit from your solution and enable you to position your product or service in a way that will resonate with them.
In addition to understanding your prospects’ pain points, you also need to know who else is trying to solve for them outside of your company. What does the competitive landscape look like? How does your solution stack up? Examine how the competition is selling and pitching, and then do something different.
You want to stand out and be unique, while still speaking to what your prospects need (and want).
In this video, our Principal Growth Advisor Karly Wescott breaks down the importance of understanding your buyers, as well as some additional tips and techniques for sales that she has learned during her time at New Breed.
2. Focus on the Right Leads
According to Ken Krogue, Founder & Board Member of InsideSales.com, "it's really about the leads." From our standpoint, this means understanding what makes a lead a good fit for your company so you don’t waste your time on people who will never become customers.
This sales technique starts with knowing who you're targeting (i.e. identifying your buyer personas and ideal customer profile). From there, you should be able to determine what they're struggling with, what their challenges are and how you can align your messaging and offers to their pain points.
When you focus on the right leads, you tend to see better win rates, larger average deal sizes and higher customer lifetime value. If you’re focusing on the people who are best served by your solution, it’s easier to close them as customers.
This way, you’re not spending as much time selling to them and you’re going to have a higher probability of closing them. You just have to ensure your timing is right and that they’re ready for what you’re offering.
Tip: Use data and analytics to identify your most promising leads.
To effectively focus on the right leads, it's vital to have reliable data and analytics. By analyzing your past sales and marketing efforts, you can identify patterns and characteristics that indicate which leads are more likely to become customers. You can use tools like lead scoring and predictive analytics to prioritize leads based on their likelihood to convert. This way, you can focus your time and resources on the leads that are most likely to result in a sale.
3. Prioritize Your Company Above Yourself
At New Breed, we like to say that selling is a team sport. The marketing team helps the sales team. Sales team members help each other out. All the work each individual and each team does has the same end goal: Helping the business grow.
Keep that same ideology in mind anytime you make a decision. Prioritize your customers first, then your company second, your team third and yourself last.
4. Leverage Your CRM
At New Breed, we're big fans of Salesforce. Our sales team uses it as their CRM platform, but we've also integrated it with HubSpot, our marketing automation software, so there's full transparency between marketing and sales. Our sales team is able to see a prospect’s digital body language, or how they’ve interacted with our content.
Knowing what blog posts they've read, what pages they've visited and what emails they've opened can give us a better sense of what they’re interested in, what their pain points are and how they came to know about us in the first place can better inform our outreach.
If we see someone is reading content about conversion strategies, then we can then look at how they are converting people on their website and provide personalized input through our initial outreach that demonstrates our understanding of their pain points and illustrates how we can address those challenges.
5. Be Data Informed
When you're a small company like us (actually — this rings true even if you're a large company), efficiencies can help tremendously. Pay close attention to your metrics and marketing funnel to find out what's working and what isn't. What's helping your sales team close more deals? What seems to be something they're stumbling over?
Data doesn't lie, so listening to the numbers is a critical component to your sales success.
We know that data analysis can take a lot of time, so if you're not accustomed to measuring your sales efforts, start with biannual reports and make them as in-depth and detailed as possible. Once you've gotten to that point, start doing quarterly reports. These can be a little lighter than the biannual ones, but should still contain detailed metrics. Then go as granular as monthly. This can be the lightest of the three versions and just looks at your sales on a higher level.
The goal for each of the reports should be to show you something from a different perspective. By looking at different trends you can make smarter decisions that will improve your results in the long run.
6. Really Listen to Your Prospects
This sales technique is ultimately about trust. According to Mark Roberge, the former CRO of HubSpot’s Sales Division, "You know you are running a modern sales team when selling feels more like the relationship between a doctor and a patient and less like a relationship between a salesperson and a prospect."
So, what does he mean by that?
In order to be effective salespeople, we need to be able to listen to our prospects. We tend to be a self-centered culture, in part thanks to social media, so it's important that as a salesperson, you care about your prospects — and not just on the surface. That will shine through in your conversations, help build trust and help close deals.
7. Build Trust Through Education
Building trust can be difficult when you're trying to sell someone a product or service. We've been conditioned to have a bad reaction to a "salesperson," as they've been made out to be slimy and untrustworthy.
So today, it's important that you foster that relationship and build trust with your prospect. A great way to do that is through education.
When we say education, we're really talking about your content. Use your blog, your premium content offers, your webinars and other content to help educate your prospect on what your organization offers.
Don't just go in for the hard pitch right away. If you help to educate them, enabling them to make their own decisions (which you've helped guide toward your solution), they will begin to trust you. And once you have trust, you're much more likely to win the relationship.
To benefit the most from your educational outreach, personalize your efforts. Sending the same blog post to 20 people is just marketing. Sales is a one-on-one conversation.
Instead of sending along a blog post or webinar by itself, take a quote from a relevant content offering and apply it to your prospect specifically to provide education, leverage the content you have and still be human.
8. Focus on Helping
How often do you get a call from a salesperson and all they talk about is the brand new features of the product they're offering? You listen politely, but think to yourself, "Yeah, but how does this help me?"
The truth is: features don't help you. At least in the way they're usually positioned by sales. What you really want to know is, "How is what you're selling going to solve X for me?" Essentially, you want to know how the offer will address your challenges.
As a salesperson, this differentiation is key. Rather than focusing on the features of your solution, think about how those features can help your prospect. How are you solving one of their challenges or pain points?
If you understand who your buyer personas are, then you know what their challenges and pain points are and how your solution aligns with that. This is the opportunity to focus on the benefits of your product or service — i.e., how you can make that person’s day a little easier.
When you can talk up the benefits, you'll have a much easier time convincing prospects that your organization can most effectively solve their needs.
9. End Each Meeting with an Action
When you leave your next meeting, rather than saying something like, "I'll follow up with you on our next steps," create your next steps right then and there.
We tested this methodology on our own sales team and saw huge results. We used to end our meetings with a prospect by indicating they could expect to hear from us in a few hours with a few times that worked for our next meeting. We kept finding it was increasingly harder to book that next meeting.
So we decided to switch our strategy. Now, when we're ending a sales call, we finish on a concrete action. We all pull up our calendars and book our next meeting on the spot. And guess what? We've seen our conversion rates increase as a result of it.
So next time you're in a sales meeting, don't leave empty handed. Set up your next meeting while you're there with the prospect, or at the very least, have a concrete action plan that both sides have agreed upon.
10. Use Your Marketing Team
Your marketing and sales teams need to be aligned. There's so much these two departments can learn from each other to help the organization reach its main goal of generating more revenue.
On the sales side, use your marketing team to your advantage. Talk to them about what your prospects are saying — are they responding well to a piece of content? Did they not enjoy the webinar they attended? Share these insights with your marketing team so they can continue to feed you higher and higher quality leads. You should also share your reports with the marketing team. Full transparency will help you both be more effective.
Marketing should be enabling your sales team to be more successful. Part of that is delivering leads, part of that is enabling sales with good content and part of that is ensuring a smooth handoff. But marketing needs to work with sales to do all those things.
At New Breed, we have a revenue team instead of separate marketing and sales teams, so marketing and sales are aligned behind the same goal: generating revenue. Because marketing is measured on their contribution to revenue instead of the number of leads they generate, they’re more incentivized to bring in high-quality leads that have a high likelihood to become clients.
But if there isn’t transparency between the two teams, marketing won’t have the information they need to ensure they’re providing sales with qualified leads.
11. Follow Up With Leads Quickly
When leads engage with your content or request more information, the challenge or opportunity they’re hoping you can help them address is likely high on their list of priorities. This primes them for a more productive sales engagement — if it happens quickly.
Letting days pass before following up with a warm lead often turns a solid opportunity into a longer and more difficult sell (or no sell at all, if the lead has already connected with a more responsive competitor!).
Instead, connecting with a lead as soon as possible brings you to the top of their consideration set. It injects energy and urgency into the new relationship, demonstrating to the prospect that they have priority treatment from a responsive representative.
12. Contact Your Lead At least 6 Times
Everyone’s customer base is a little different, but generally speaking, expect to reach out at least six times (on average) before bringing a prospect to the table. Like you, your target audience wrestles with competing priorities and attention magnets every day. You can’t expect them to calendar a follow-up with you like they would if the roles were reversed.
Use available buyer personas to understand which channels and modes of communication your prospects prefer. For example: Some demographics prefer text over email but only for certain types of content or communication. Alternating channels can help your cause, but it’s almost always best to use your prospect’s preferred mode of communication for most of your outreach.
Structure your cadence based on your own experiences with successful sales engagements. Is there a certain stretch of the month or quarter when one of your customers’ challenges takes center stage? If you’re offering a solution to that challenge, staying relatively subdued during “offseason” and then ramping up your engagement for primetime might be the best approach.
13. Tell A Story
Believe the Storybrand hype. Everyone loves to play the hero in their own story, and nowhere is this more true than business. As a sales rep, your surest route to winning over a prospect lies in crafting a compelling narrative — and making them the protagonist.
Pain points become exciting quests to complete, trials to conquer, heights to reach. Your prospect has the opportunity to choose you as her trusty companion on her journey to defeat the obstacle that lies between her and quantifiable success. Your job is crafting the story in such a way that your future customer sees a clear path to victory with you and your product by her side.
Focus on the aspirational. This challenge breeds late nights and anxious meetings today, but what will tomorrow look like when your prospect has overcome the obstacle? Paint the picture of her success. You’re just happy to be there at her side!
Tip: Use visual storytelling techniques to engage your prospect.
Visual storytelling is a powerful tool in sales. Using elements like images, videos and infographics can help bring your story to life and capture your prospect's attention. Consider creating a visual representation of your prospect's journey to success with your product, highlighting key milestones and benefits along the way. This not only makes your pitch more interesting and memorable, but also allows your prospect to better envision themselves using your product and achieving their goals.
14. Practice Objection Handling
Objections come with all but the most enthusiastic prospects. They take a wide variety of forms: For example, objections to service offerings often include cost, timing, scope, outcome, and maintenance of deliverables.
Anticipate which objections you may encounter based on what you already know about your prospect. Bootstrapped startups and larger companies with revenue issues will have a lot of sensitivity around budget; startups with investor funding and companies with strong sales likely will not. Companies in a fast-growth phase will probably value tighter timelines over enterprise organizations. Larger companies with financial security will likely focus on the stability and maintenance of deliverables, as they must incorporate and maintain whatever you implement into a system with many moving parts.
Seasoned sales reps have unique styles when it comes to handling the objections themselves; depending on the prospect, product, and/or company, styles range from consultative (very transparent, low pressure) to aggressive (harnessing momentum, taking the reins). Both can work well in certain situations.
15. Apply Basic Psychology
Selling is all about understanding the psychology of your customer, so it's important to learn some basic psychological pointers that can boost your success. Knowing these tips and tricks can help you craft effective messages and persuasive pitches that increase engagement and lead to more closed deals.
Using the anchoring effect can be an effective sales technique to get customers to make a purchase. The anchoring effect involves setting a reference point by presenting customers with the highest pricing possible at first, and then providing discounts on top of that, making it appear more attractive to customers. This works to subtly nudge them into buying your product over competitors' options.
Try implementing a "decoy"
If you're trying to convince someone to buy one of two options, it may be worth adding a third option, known as a decoy. This extra selection can influence the person's decision and lead them to choose the product that benefits you the most. Adding a decoy option is an effective sales technique that can help you close more sales!
Use the power of rhymes
The rhyme-as-reason effect states that rhyming statements appear more true than non-rhyming ones. Consider adding alliteration or other rhymes into your sentences to help increase their impact and the likelihood of potential buyers believing what you’re saying.
The concept of loss aversion
This means that someone is more likely to react more strongly to the potential of losing something they already have, rather than the possibility of gaining something they don't. Emphasize how losing out on your offer will cost them and what they stand to lose — this could be money, time, or even an opportunity they won’t get anywhere else.
Keep the peak-end rule in mind
This rule suggests that people remember the end and a high point within a sales presentation more vividly than any other part. Therefore, it’s important to create a lasting impression by ending strongly or with an impactful highlight.
Be aware of "curse of knowledge"
Understanding your audience can be an extra difficult thing to do. This is known as the “curse of knowledge” and can be detrimental to sales if not addressed appropriately. To avoid falling victim to this when selling, take time to understand the needs, knowledge level, and interests of your customer. Doing so will help you present your product in an engaging and understandable way and make sure that your message resonates with them.
Take into account confirmation bias
This is the tendency to accept information that aligns with our current beliefs, rather than contradictory evidence. To maximize the success of your sales techniques, it's important to be aware of this bias and try to break it by allowing for the possibility that there may be new or better ways of doing things.
16. Ask the Right Questions at Each Funnel Stage
Sales closing questions need to guide the conversation toward signing a deal. Questions that elicit longer answers have been shown to influence call conversion rates. Top-of-funnel, or TOFU, leads are generally outbound leads (i.e., you are cold calling). Inbound leads tend to be further along in the buyer’s journey.
Here’s a short list of effective questions you can ask your prospects, arranged by funnel stage:
- What’s your biggest business challenge as it pertains to [context of your offering]?
- How is this presenting itself as a problem to your business?
- How does that impact your day-to-day life?
- What are you currently doing to address [pain/problem]?
- If I could wave a magic wand and improve one KPI, which one would you want it to be?
- What are your buying decision criteria?
- As you evaluate vendors, what‘s most important to you?
- What‘s missing from our solution as it stands today?
- What happens between getting the green light and signing the agreement?
- What other information do you need from us in order to move forward?
- What obstacles could prevent you from moving forward?
- Do you see a world in which you move forward before [date]?
By paying close attention to where a prospect is within the sales funnel — top, middle and bottom — you can achieve far greater success appealing to their mindset and objectives.
17. Focus on Increasing Your Lead Conversions
One of the most important sales techniques related to B2B sales is to focus on increasing your lead conversions. Doing so will allow you to get more out of existing leads by turning them into customers.
To do this, you need to have a thorough understanding of your ideal customer, so that you can better target them and increase your chances of converting every lead. Additionally, it’s important to provide potential customers with as much information as possible about your product or service in order for them to make an informed purchase decision.
It’s also a good idea to establish a follow-up process that allows you to keep in regular contact with your leads. This can help ensure that they don’t feel like they have been forgotten and keeps the conversation going when they may not have time to consider your offer right away.
Finally, make sure you have invested enough time into building relationships with potential customers before asking them to buy — this will allow you to create a positive image of your brand and develop trust between both parties.
18. Leverage Existing Relationships
Leveraging existing relationships is an effective sales technique when it comes to increasing lead conversions. Connect to potential customers by using the networks of your current customers in order to put yourself in front of more qualified leads.
Establishing relationships with existing customers will also help build trust and credibility, which will make it easier to turn leads into customers. Additionally, you can use referral marketing tactics like leveraging personal recommendations from customers who are already known and trusted by your target audience.
Referrals are a valuable source of leads because they allow you to target people who already have an existing connection with someone who knows and trusts your product. Asking current customers for referrals is a great way to increase brand awareness and get connected to more qualified leads.
Additionally, leveraging personal recommendations from current customers presents an additional layer of trust that will aid in turning a lead into a customer. Utilizing existing relationships is key when it comes to increasing lead conversions, and establishing relationships with your current customers will only strengthen the success of your referral marketing efforts.
19. Introduce New Products or Services
Upgrading your existing product offerings is one of the best ways to increase B2B sales conversions. Make sure your team members are knowledgeable about the details and selling points of all existing products, as well as any new or updated products being introduced, in order to benefit from this sales technique.
Knowing how your newest products fit into a customer’s business model can be especially crucial to landing a sale. Also consider introducing brand new services that will support wider customer needs and expand the value of what you have to offer them.
Determine what customer problems you can solve through your new products or services, and be sure that your team members are well-versed in the details of these offerings. Customers will value this knowledge and appreciate the time you take to explain how these products or services can meet their precise needs. This will give your company a competitive edge, demonstrate expertise and commitment, and signal to customers that they can count on you as an ally in their business endeavors.
Tip: Provide a clear value proposition for new products or services.
When introducing new products or services, it's important to clearly articulate the value proposition they bring to customers. What specific problems or pain points do they solve? How do they improve on existing solutions? Make sure your team members are equipped with this information and can communicate it effectively to prospects. By providing a clear value proposition, you can differentiate yourself from competitors and demonstrate the unique benefits your products or services bring to the table.
20. Contact Lapsed Customers
Renewing relationships with customers who haven’t interacted with your business for a specific amount of time can often lead to long-term sales opportunities. Reach out to contacts you haven’t heard from in the last six months (or longer, depending on your industry) and see how their organization’s needs have changed or how you can better serve them. An engaging message from a team member they know will be appreciated and may even spark renewed interest in your services.
Utilize a variety of ways to contact these potential customers, from phone calls and text messages to emails and even handwritten letters. Show appreciation for their past business, and make sure your message is succinct and helpful. You could also include a special offer or discounted rate on their first purchase as an incentive to re-engage with your company. Finally, follow up regularly, about every two weeks for the first couple months, to deepen the relationship and inspire long-term loyalty.
These sales techniques are designed to help you become a more effective salesperson. But they aren’t one-size-fits-all — you’ll want to understand your target market above all else and tailor your approach to maximize your sales success. By investing in continued education, testing new ideas and seeking feedback, you can continuously improve your skills and grow in your role. Remember that selling is a team sport, so always prioritize your customers first, your company second, your team third, and yourself last.
If you want to dig even deeper into the world of inbound sales, download our guide for even more information and best practices:
This post was originally published January 8, 2014.
Patrick Biddiscombe is the CEO of New Breed. He also spearheads our Revenue department and his background and skills in sales and inbound strategy has contributed immensely to the success of New Breed and our customers' growth.