Over the course of the day are you on the phone and exchanging emails with prospects that lead you nowhere? Wouldn’t it be nice to know sooner than later which ones were worth pursuing? In this article we outline six sales skills that will help you spot likely buyers and advice for leading them through the sale. And don’t forget, like Tom Hopkin’s said, the buyer’s “no” might have started with you.
1. Vetting for qualified candidates
You likely have a rough picture of your most likely buyer, but do you have a specific profile? If not, now’s the time to put one together.
Look back over your last ten sales and write down (or type out) 10 key characteristics of buyers who actually signed on the dotted line. Then compare buyers against one another. Chances are you’ll see a few trends that will crystalize exactly the type of persona who actually makes a purchase. Once you have a handle on who actually closes sales you can much more effectively vet incoming leads and identify if they are prospects worth pursuing or not. Corey Eridon over at Hubspot wrote a great article about developing your buyer personas.
In Base, it’s easy to spot your recent customers. The Sales by Account report identifies the customers who are bringing you the most revenue. You can see your customers broken down by total sales, and sort by a custom date range. Even though Apple was your biggest client in 2012, are they also your biggest client in 2013? How can you retain your largest clients and get more clients like them? This report will help you build strategies to do so.
2. Get clear on what problem you are solving
People love to talk about themselves and sales companies are not immune to this trend. All too often internal sales training hits hard on company history, product features and successes – the trouble with this is that nobody cares. Your prospects put very little value in your founders’ founding story or your industry. They care about their problems and their company and the pain points they are trying to soothe. Focus on that. You’ll make a much more convincing pitch if illustrate the trouble you know, see or can guess they are having and show them exactly how your product will make them more successful and less stressed. Mark Suster wrote a great article recently on Inc.com about how to identify your client’s pain points. Fast Company also tackled the same issue from a product standpoint.
3. Get comfortable on the phone
The painful truth of sales is that you will always make more calls than will ever get answered. Get comfortable with it. When you get sent to voicemail five times in a row it is easy to stick to rote, impersonal scripts while you let the answering service know you called. Resist this temptation. People often don’t answer because they like to be in control of a situation, not because they don’t want to hear from you. Get good at leaving upbeat and informative messages that have a personal touch.
One way to gage how productive you are on the phone is with the Call Count report in Base. It tracks call volume broken down by user so you can see how you stack up compared to your other sales reps. You can see the optimal number of daily calls that lead to actual deals so you know if you’re reaching out to enough prospects or not. You’ll notice a blue dotted line down the middle of the report. This represents the average number of calls placed for the given time frame.
4. Prettify your presentations
You know that your prospects don’t want to hear a self-aggrandizing sales pitch, but do you know what they do want hear? Presentations are part and parcel of a successful sales program, make yours count. We put together tips on adding polish to your presentations here. But content matters as much looks so be sure to enrich your presentations with detailed stories and examples that your listener can relate to. Again, sales are made when you’ve convinced the buyer your product will solve their problem not when you’ve made your point about past success.
5. Flip the script
Now that you have focused your pitch on the problems your product solves, it is time to empower your prospect to solve it. Rather than leaning on what you can do for a client, ask the prospect what they are going to do now that they know their options. This small pivot takes the burden off of you and places the responsibility for making the decision back where it rightfully belongs – with the decision maker. Anthony Iannarino wrote a great post about how to find the decision maker.
6. Capture Data
After you’ve nailed your sale, make sure you capture it in your CRM or sales productivity platform. Keep track of those non-sales too. Memories fade over the weeks and months and you must use an organizational system to keep your facts straight. By keeping your CRM up-to-date you have the material you need to keep your prospect profile accurate and the details necessary for crafting sales stories. And you have all the emails, phone numbers and LinkedIn profiles you can handle in one convenient-to-use place. Organization goes a long way towards long-term success.
What other selling skills do you need to improve this year?