Wouldn’t it be great if there were a silver bullet that would help you close more deals and make the most of your selling efforts?
I hate to disappoint, but there isn't one. Sales success takes hard work and commitment along with skill and savvy. The best sellers are fluent in every part of the sales process.
While there isn’t a single secret to selling, there are steps you can take to better engage with buyers and boost your win rate. You can start by following these sales tips.
17 Sales Tips
- Be prepared and know your offering
- Understand your buyers
- Manage your selling time
- Build a sustainable sales process
- Prepare for objections
- Always be prospecting
- Be responsive to inbound leads
- Focus on quality, not quantity
- Build a referral base
- Go beyond your offering
- Sell solutions to challenges
- Answer the "why?"
- Lead conversations
- Build buyer relationships
- Go first with pricing
- Drive urgency
- Always have a next step
Sales Tips for Planning and Strategy
Before you even talk to a buyer, you need a plan and a purpose. These tips all contribute to the strategic framework that underscores every deal you win.
1. Be prepared and know your offering
Every stage of the sales process requires some level of preparation, and buyers will notice if you aren’t prepared.
The most fundamental level of preparation is knowing your offering inside and out. When you can confidently sell your full suite of offerings, you can craft a solution that drives value for buyers and opens up possibilities they might not have considered.
A thorough knowledge of your offerings and how they help buyers solve needs lets you introduce new ideas and build buyer confidence. This is the foundation of insight selling.
2. Understand your buyers
In The 6 Buyer Personas (And How to Sell to Them), we share the preferences and styles of different buyers. It’s essential to understand what’s important to each individual buyer and their decision-making process. When you know this, you can more easily match your selling process to the buying process and ultimately win more deals.
Once you’ve engaged with a buyer, it also pays to know which decision role you’re selling to. Each member of a buying team influences the sale based on their decision role, which comes with its own interests and decision criteria. Knowing who’s on the buying team from the start will ensure you’re interacting with the right people before you get too far along in the process.
3. Manage your selling time
When it comes to selling, I like to think about time management in two ways.
The first relates to the type of opportunities you pursue. It takes just as much time to sell a $25,000 deal as it does to sell a $100,000 deal. Why not invest your time in getting more $100,000 deals?
Easier said than done, but when you qualify your leads early, you avoid wasting time on opportunities that won’t yield strong returns.
The second is time management. Succeeding in sales requires setting smart priorities and adopting productivity habits that direct your time toward activities that make the biggest difference for your results.
4. Build a sustainable sales process
An understanding of your own sales process is necessary to make meaningful improvements. Your process should be:
- Mapped to the buying process
Every opportunity is different, but your process should be defined and adaptable enough to apply to each without the need to rewrite your approach completely.
5. Prepare for objections
Even if you’re going into sales conversations with preparation and confidence, the word “no” can stop you dead in your tracks.
Some sellers hear objections and get defensive, but top sellers can listen to a buyer and understand where they’re coming from. Often, objections are opportunities to learn how you can better make your value case.
When you know how to respond to buyer objections, you can step back, keep a cool head, and assess your buyer’s needs.
Sales Tips for Prospecting
Prospecting is essential to connect with buyers early in their buying process and fill your pipeline. However, many sellers don’t dedicate the time to it that they should. These tips will help you stay on top of your prospecting efforts and land that all-important first meeting.
For more prospecting tips, read Sales Prospecting: Tips, Techniques, and Strategies.
6. Always Be Prospecting
You’ve heard the ABC’s of selling: Always Be Closing. But just as important is ABP: Always Be Prospecting.
The best way to get over a lost sale is to move onto the next sale in your pipeline. If your pipeline is empty, it’s much more difficult to recover. When this happens, each loss feels much more devastating. Top Performers are always working to fill the front end of their pipelines by creating new conversations every day.
7. Be responsive to inbound leads
When buyers reach out to you, they’re likely considering you in addition to other options. Buyers want to hear from you early in the buying process. The longer you wait to talk with them, the more likely they’ll have a solution in mind. Wait too long and you won’t be that solution.
Respond quickly, and with multiple touches, and you’ll give yourself the best chance of becoming the buyer’s preferred option. Responding within 24 hours is ideal. If you can’t craft a customized response, at least send a short email to acknowledge the buyer and give a timeline on when they’ll hear from you.
8. Focus on quality, not quantity
To some degree, sales is a numbers game. But it’s not just about the numbers. The key is to create quality conversations. The best sellers have strict qualification criteria and don’t waste their time with low-level prospects, companies that aren’t the right fit, or buyers who don’t have the funds to spend. Top Performers work hard to qualify leads early on so they don’t spend their precious time on prospects that aren’t going to go anywhere.
It can be intimidating, but it’s important to sell to the C-suite when possible. It’s much more difficult to work your way up in an organization than it is to get referred down. When you start low, it’s an uphill battle. When you start at the C-suite and get referred down, you’re more likely to find the right decision maker. That person is more willing to take your call. After all, you’re being referred to them by the higher powers.
9. Build a referral base
Referrals provide an instant level of trust and are among the top ways sellers get new leads. Don’t rely on accidental referrals; tap into your network and build a system to generate new referrals.
Like anything else related to prospecting, you shouldn’t wait for your pipeline to dry up. Staying referral-ready by delivering on your promises is half the battle, but it’s worth creating multiple easy avenues for your buyers to provide referrals.
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Sales Tips for Establishing Value
Every seller wants to think they drive value, but few can define what value looks like for them. The following tips explore how you can find value for buyers and differentiate yourself from other offerings.
10. Go beyond your offering
Buyers want to work with people who are experts in their trade and can provide value in every conversation. What value can you provide, not only once a prospect buys from you, but in your sales conversations leading up to the sale?
I was recently on a product demo in which the seller asked to have a pre-call with me so that she could customize the demo and make specific recommendations for our situation.
I took the pre-call where she asked excellent questions that allowed her to create a demo geared exactly for what we were looking to do. On top of that, she made some insightful recommendations for things we could do right away without even using the product.
Only by doing her research and asking the right questions ahead of time was she able to deliver a high impact demo.
11. Sell solutions to challenges
Mediocre sellers sell features: “My product has 10x more features than the competition at half the price.” Or, “I follow this 8-step process to evaluate your business processes. Step 1….”
Average sellers sell benefits: “Our 8-step process will uncover the levers that lead to great strides in operational efficiencies.” Or, “Our product will save you days of time sifting through piles of data.”
Top Performers sell solutions to challenges: “From our conversations, I understand A, B, and C are going on in your organization and I think that if you can alleviate C that will lead to an immediate savings of more than $200,000 and more than $1.5 million in savings annually. It will also free up your staff to spend their time on more productive activities.”
What do you sell?
12. Answer the "why?"
Why should I stop what I’m doing to listen to you? Why is your product or service better than the competition? Why does it cost more? Why do I need your product or service? Why should I believe you?
In all of your communications and conversations, a series of why questions are circling around your buyers’ minds. Don’t wait for the buyer to ask these questions because they often won’t. Be proactive and answer them head on.
Sales Tips for Buyer Conversations
From building value to building rapport, sales conversations are necessary to convince buyers to move forward with you. Use these tips to structure and conduct conversations that keep buyers engaged and interested.
13. Lead conversations
A lot needs to happen between the first touch with an opportunity and closing the deal. You need to advance the sales process every step of the way, and this starts by leading strong sales conversations.
Each conversation is a balance. You need to focus on your agenda, but you also need to take time to listen to the buyer and understand their needs. When you uncover a buyer’s aspirations (where they want to be) and afflictions (what they need to fix), you can create solutions that are impactful for them.
14. Build buyer relationships
Big surprise: buyers buy from people they like. First impressions are important, so build rapport with your buyers as early as possible. Rapport-building is a skill that can be learned like any other, and it makes a big difference in establishing lasting buyer relationships.
A good buyer relationship generates repeat business, referrals, better margins, and client loyalty. Be friendly, find common ground, and stay authentic, and you’ll notice a difference in your conversations with buyers.
15. Go first with pricing
Many sellers start conversations by asking buyers for a budget. The problem with giving buyers the chance to share their budget is that the number they put forward anchors the discussion. Usually, whoever makes the first offer obtains a better outcome.
You may need to negotiate further on price, but going first puts you in a position to lead the conversation.
16. Drive Urgency
If a buyer doesn’t feel the urgency in moving forward with you, the deal will stagnate or be lost completely. To drive buyer action, you need to communicate impact.
What happens if a buyer’s afflictions aren’t answered? What happens if their aspirations don’t become reality?
Your impact case is what gets buyers excited to work with you. It’s based on buyer needs and covers both the business and the emotional impact, as well as differentiating you and your offering from alternatives. If you can’t convey impact, you won’t keep the buyer’s interest or make your solution their priority.
17. Always have a next step
Never leave a meeting or a conversation without a solid next step that’s been agreed upon. Always schedule the next step when you have the prospect on the line. Frequently, you’ll hear objections such as, “just email me a few times that will work and we’ll put it on the schedule.” Often, you just won’t hear back from your prospect.
Instead, schedule the next step with the prospect right then and there. If the next step is to send a proposal, let them know you’ll put a proposal together, but need to schedule a time to walk them through it. When a prospect makes a commitment on the spot (putting the next meeting on their calendar), they’re much more likely to follow through.
Using These Tips
There are no silver bullets and each of these sales tips takes work. You may find you’re already doing some of these things. But sales is iterative—your approach should always have room for growth. If you’re not selling as effectively as you think you should be, review this list and identify areas to work on. It’ll help you sell with a fresh perspective and make lasting improvements to your methods.