ll archives: How to up Your Sales Game (No Matter Your Industry)

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The products you sell, the services you offer, even the industry you work in — they all make you and your business unique. So it's no surprise that when it comes to making sales, you shouldn’t use the exact same selling template over and over. No two sales situations are exactly the same. Each deserves its own personalized style of presentation.

Still, even though every sales situation is a little different, the qualities that make up a good salesperson are fairly universal. A good salesperson is well-prepared, client-focused, intuitive, patient, reliable and empathetic.

Simple enough, right? To be a better salesperson, you just have to have those qualities.

But knowing the qualities of a good salesperson isn't quite the same as having those qualities. To help you implement those traits and really up your sales game, try applying the tactics below.

Act Like a Person, Not a Selling Machine

Yes, you are a selling machine. You're focused on the ultimate goal, to successfully grow your business. But if you want to get return customers and build lasting professional relationships, don't act like a selling robot.

Think about the people who've tried to sell to you. Consider telemarketers, car salesmen, realtors, store clerks. Which ones did you enjoy interacting with? Which ones made you feel as though you were just "dealing with" them?

If you're like most people, you like the salespeople who aren't too pushy. The ones who talk to you like a person, empathize with your needs and seem to genuinely want to help.

So be that salesperson. Put aside your instinct to focus on your product, your business and your needs, and instead focus on your client.

Thinking About the Other Side

Before you even begin your sales pitch, take a moment to recall what it's like to be on the other side of one. Think about the general do’s and don'ts you've learned from years of selling and being sold to. And when you see your client, put your instincts and common sense to good use — take note of their mood, their tone and their reactions to the things you say.

Above all, recall that your clients have their own needs, their own agendas and their own lives. Doing so will help you to avoid becoming too pushy or being deemed a self-serving selling machine.

Know Your Audience

Acting like a real person — that is, bringing out your genuine empathy and common sense — is the most important skill you can master when it comes to selling. In fact, not only does this skill make you a resourceful and intuitive communicator, but many companies rank it as the number one most desirable skill in a salesperson.

That being said, there are, of course, other aspects of good salesmanship. And one of the most important is the aspect of knowing your audience, which comes in two stages:

Stage 1: Doing your research Stage 2: Building and maintaining a strong rapport

The goal of Stage 1 is to familiarize yourself with the business needs of your client and learn all you can about them before even meeting. Your research will look a little different for each sales project you take on, but you'll always look for the right type of information by asking yourself one simple question: What can I use to connect with this client?

You should go beyond understanding the client, though, to gain insight into the geography of your sales environment. Always research the standard, practical business factors like your client's demographic area, sales territory and business competitors. Use these to create customer location maps and market analysis maps to see where your customers are, how well positioned competitors are, and derive progress from the models. Understanding the environment in which you’re selling can provide fresh, new perspectives and drive creativity to reach your customers in new ways.

Go Beyond the Obvious

But you should also consider the often overlooked, more personal factors, like the client's ethical, environmental and philanthropical beliefs. Look to the resources available to you — their website, social media presence, business brochures, etc.

  1. As you research, ask yourself questions like this:
  2. What tone do they project to the world?
  3. What goals do they emphasize?
  4. Are there charitable and/or community projects they're involved with?
  5. Do they recycle or otherwise support environmental progression?
  6. How do they treat their employees?
  7. Do they seem to focus most highly on their customers, their employees or the company itself?

Familiarizing yourself with these factors will not only help you to design your selling strategy in a more personalized way, but it also opens the door to a more genuine, mutually beneficial business relationship.

Building and Maintaining Rapport

Stage 2 of knowing your audience is simpler in theory but arguably more difficult in practice. The goal of this stage is to build and maintain a strong rapport with your clients.

The information you've learned during Stage 1 will be a big help in getting started with Stage 2. The more you know going in to a sale, the more likely it is that you'll connect with your audience right off the bat.

But don't lose sight of the bigger picture. Just because you've made a sale doesn't mean your job is done. To turn that one-time sale into a long-term, valuable business relationship, follow the rapport-building guidelines. Whenever you meet with a client, no matter how long you've worked with them, always be attentive, reliable, focused on their needs and, above all, genuine.

On top of that, take a sincere interest in the things you and your client discuss. Take note of what you learn about them over time — both personally and professionally. Then, just as you would with a friend, use that knowledge to connect with them in the future.

Be the Salesperson You Admire

You've had your share of good and bad sales experiences. As you move forward in your career, remember that golden rule you were told oh so many times throughout childhood — "treat others the way you'd like to be treated." In other words, act like the salesperson you'd like to have selling to you.