Let’s face it. To differentiate an average sales rep from a professional sales rainmaker with midas touch, some additional set of skills and methodologies are required. Most people believe that you can sell if you can talk. However, selling is not just about talking and pitching your potential customers of what you’re selling. And selling like a pro is like a well-executed dance, with highly fluid sequence and steps. That’s what makes a difference between a struggling sales rep and professional sales rep!
Let’s focus on 5 effective professional selling skills that can help you take your business to the next level.
The Art of Opening
Sales conversation opening is as good as your research. Once you’ve researched your prospect and understood his or her needs you need to ensure that you have the right approach. A well executed opening will allow the customer to understand what you have to offer. Mastering the art of Opening is a critical part of professional selling. Because what you’re about to say will make a great impression on your customer’s mind and will make or break your deal.
To ensure you have the right opening you need to be good at researching your prospect. A lack of insights skillfully gathered about the prospect can lead to poor opening and can ruin your chances to sell.
PRO TIP: Linkedin, twitter, personal blog posts, alumni list are all various ways to research about your prospect thoroughly before you call him. Use similarities and common connections to break the ice and position a solid ‘opening’ to your cold call.
The Art of Probing
Even before you get into the selling mode, as a professional sales person you need to know what you really want to do. Most sales people are not sure where they are going and, therefore, they won’t get there.
As a professional you should have a goal in your mind so that you can prepare yourself accordingly to achieve that particular goal. If you have no goal, you cannot achieve it.
Generally, sales people say that all they need is a good prospect to whom they can sell their products. However, salespeople must be asking questions in the right way so that they can be in a better position to sell their products to any customer. Real sales professionals have an exhaustive set of questions ready and they are never afraid to ask them. In-fact they have rehearsed those questions in various role plays or live customer interactions.
PRO TIP: Create your list of top probing questions against each customer persona. A healthy mix of open ended and closed ended questions (eg. Yes/No responses) are recommended. And with that kind of probing you can uncover your customers’ needs and offer them solutions that they would purchase.
The Art of Empathy (and understanding)
In a sales deal, you and your customer both have important information to receive and give. So, when a customer is looking for salespeople they are actually looking for a partner with a long term differentiator that can support his or her needs. As a sales person, you need to empathize with the customer, understand what he actually needs and then offer any solution.
While you are an expert about your product, your customer is an expert of his needs. Respect that.
A successful deal is one where both sides are winning and happy because happy customers mean loyal customers. As a sales person you need to acknowledge their needs and provide those features and benefits that relate to their needs. Customers’ acceptance, rather than pushing your views, is what will move your sales forward.
PRO TIP: Match the body language if you are meeting in persona & match the pace of breath and tone with your prospect to create connection. Take pauses, go silent without filler ‘listening words’ and every few minutes just paraphrase and repeat what Mr. Prospect to build that connection. Subconsciously, you will feel in his shoes to some extent.
The Art of Persuasion
There are times when customer has a different viewpoint and everything that you say falls on deaf ears. This can be quite frustrating especially when you are trying to “make a sale” and doing your best to convince your customer to purchase the products. You have to ensure that your customer is aware of his problems and you are ready to educate him.
As a sales representative, you need to understand that selling is all about need satisfaction. If the customer feels there is no need – you cannot make a sale. You cannot create need but only make your prospect aware of it. Being pushy will only drive away your potential customer because he or she will soon realize that you’re just another desperate sales person trying to earn a commission.
Making a prospect feel the need and its impact is not as much in your hand as it is in their willingness to learn. However, educating him on “perfect world” possibilities and challenging him to move out of comfort zone is. That’s the art of persuasion formula.
A professional salesman holds his hand and challenge him to move out of the comfort zone. And by doing so, you need to be handling customer’s indifference. It is important because most of the times customers will have a different opinion which might hurt your sale.
PRO TIP: The real tipping point in sale happens when you ‘challenge’ the customer backed by education & awareness. If you want to take this professional selling skill one level ahead, learn to challenge his view point and perception. Not in a confrontational way, but supported with intent to educate. It would make him or her realize that you’re there to help make a right decision. Reading “The Challenger sale” is highly recommended for new age sales person.
The Art of Closing
Once the customer has accepted to purchase the product or service you have to offer, you close that deal. Or so it might seem. Because sales deals don’t close, they just happen (as a result of following 4 steps above effectively). However, the ‘formality’ of closing a deal is certainly the final step to seal customer’s commitment. So it is still an important skill worthy of mastering.
While closing seems like a simple task where you confirm that the customer has made up his mind to purchase the products or service, it is critical for sales people to know how to close and when to close.
Closing a deal is formalized by that signature on the “golden contract paper”. Obvious isn’t it. In fact it is so obvious that the assumption that sign off will happen most naturally and with no friction, takes many sales rep by surprise.
PRO TIP: The sign off process, even if you assume to be simple, must be explicitly brought up in closing conversation early on. In fact, the big close is really the art of managing mini-closures along the way i.e. you should ask or test customer for closure at each stage of your sales process. Example: At demo -stage, you may ask “If I do a great job of showing your challenges can be addressed with our product, would you be able to sign off on the paper?” (and there are many variations to this question for every stage, of course)
So, With the right selling skills you can certainly turn opportunities into success and improve your sales performance.
All in all, selling is not just about talking, but effective communication. This can only happen if you understand the needs of your customer and then offer the right solutions. It also involves the tone of your voice and your body language that also showcases your confidence to make a lasting impression on the minds of your customers.
Become a master of these 5 arts and you will become a professional sales rep. That is a how excellent sales people close deals and are so looked after. Of course there are more to it, because these are just basics. Subscribe to our newsletter for more revealing articles that delve deeper into a sales process.