Seven Essential Tips For Improving Your Sales Skills
by Adam Luckeroth, on Jan, 7, 2014
Everyone is selling something these days. Car dealerships, your neighbor, even the federal government are all offering something to the world and each one is looking for a way to improve their efforts. But while many focus on advertising copy and a clever approach, the key to making sales lies with understanding the importance of relationships, and building trust through research, honesty, and practice. In this post, we're highlighting seven essential tips for improving your sales skills.
Identify Your Target Audience
In sales, time is money, and nothing wastes more money than spending time selling to the wrong clients. For this reason, it’s important to identify which industries and businesses can and will benefit from your services before setting up a meeting. Doing so will improve efficiency, and the effectiveness of your efforts, since you’ll be spending your time pitching products and services to people with a vested interest in their potential.
Do Your Research
This, of course, requires one of the most important steps in sales: research. But the process involves more than just identifying which broad swaths of the business world are best suited for your services. Each potential client you meet has specific needs, interests, concerns, restrictions, and authority, and acknowledging each of these characteristics prior to a sales pitch can help you determine how to approach the sale. Managers, for example, will be more interested in budgets, while those operating under management will need fodder to justify the purchase to higher-ups. Know your customer, and their circumstances, and use that knowledge to your advantage.
The human element of the process is unavoidable. Even with great information and an optimal understanding of what to pitch, your face-to-face demeanor has the potential to make or break a sale. So, get comfortable. Glean experience from working in the field and consider seeking out a successful mentor to help demystify the process. Since the onus of conversation lies with you, your comfort level will ultimately determine the tone, and success rate, of your efforts.
The problem with possessing all this foreknowledge and confidence prior to meeting a new customer is that it’s easy to fall into the trap of “knowing better” than the client. Assuming that you know what they need and what they’re willing to pay for your product is not only off-putting, it cuts the conversation off before it even begins. It’s important to realize that every customer is new, and each one brings a different mindset into the conversation. Asking questions and getting to know them better will help tailor your pitch appropriately and avoid the pratfall of arrogance.
In approaching each client with a blank slate and listening to their needs, you accomplish two things. As mentioned above, it prevents the tendency to make assumptions, but, perhaps more importantly, it helps build relationships. If customers wanted information from a spreadsheet, they’d look at a spreadsheet. They’re meeting with you due to your ability to humanize the process and provide a better, more empathetic explanation of the benefits. Asking questions, listening to your client, and building trust will not only make them feel better, but improve the integrity and effectiveness of your pitch.
In this way, your interaction with customers becomes extremely transparent. Businesses wary of snake-oil salesmen have long-since developed calluses to insincerity and ostentatious attempts to “help” them. For that reason, being a human being, a sincere human being, will break down barriers and let your client know that you genuinely care about the outcome of their purchase. Focus on being honest, not lying about facts or coloring the truth, but on using plain language and a genuine approach to explain your product and put it in a realistic context.
And frankly, the context most customers are interested in is cost. Not opportunity cost or time cost, but dollars. Those running a business have a constant eye on the balance sheet and, even if you don’t bring it up, will likely have thoughts on the budget while you deliver your pitch. So alleviate that barrier to entry by identifying the cost of your product. Talk about matters in terms of real dollars and cents. This may seem counter-intuitive, but putting the price in front of the customer actually reduces the cognitive burden associated with fear and uncertainty and opens the door to better trust and better conversion.
BONUS: Use Technology
Today, technology is becoming an increasingly important part of everyday life. The same is true for business. If you're truly interested in improving your sales skills, and more importantly, your sales success, you need to start investing in technology. App Data Room was introduced in August of 2011 as the first platform to provide companies a simple, cost effective way to build and manage an iPad app for sales. We have since grown as a company and expanded our capabilities, continually adding valuable functionality while maintaining ease of use. Today, App Data Room services thousands of registered users across 100’s of companies doing business around the world. Learn more about what we offer!
In the world of B2B sales, trust and information are king. Recognizing the key aspects of a good sales pitch will help improve your conversion rates, and hone your personal skills in the process. Research your client and determine how best to serve them prior to the meeting, and enter the room with confidence and a clear mind. Build relationships with them through sincerity and an open discussion of cost, and both of you will benefit. There is no such thing as a fool-proof system for sales, but understanding the process on a human level will improve your skills and comfort your clients.