You might be old enough to remember the old-school reputation of the “traveling salesman.” This guy wore a suit, was a smooth talker and targeted stay-at-home wives with promises of impressive vacuums. That worked back in the old days because those women were the decision-makers and they valued seeing the product work in action before committing to the purchase.
Today’s sales professionals are entirely different animals. They subscribe to a different methodology and implement innovative sales techniques. You have to be different today because your buyer preferences are different. These are the trends to keep an eye on for better conversion rates and it’s encouraged to take a page from these playbook sales trends for your model.
At its core, sales involves a few key things and always has. It’s about earning trust and confidence from a potential buyer. It’s about building a meaningful relationship in a matter of minutes or even seconds. But there are dynamic aspects to sales that separate the rookies from the veterans. How customers prefer to shop and buy continues to shift to the digital channels these days. Engaging people in virtual settings is much harder than the traditional handshake and smile of yesterday. So, if you’re seriously looking to up your game and improve your results, here are a few tips for creating those relationships in the digital buying landscape.
- Know your customer’s behavior, especially now in the wake of the pandemic. How people bought from you before COVID-19 is likely different now. Don’t presume the old way is still the best way to close sales.
- Request customer feedback if you don’t know what they want. Guessing your way through sales will only lead to lost revenue and abandoned sales. If you don’t know what they want – ask!
- Celebrate your customers by offering promotions or appreciation specials. You can cater one promo toward your existing client base and something entirely different to new customers.
- Don’t overlook your company’s customer service or customer experience policy. When sales strategies change, so should your customer service platform. Efficiency is the new value in today’s economic environment. So, if doing business with you takes too long or involves too many complicated hoops to jump through, you’ll likely be losing business.
- Audit your content and messaging strategy. Are you still talking about what’s most important to your core audience? Selling success means knowing and capitalizing on what matters most to your prospect.
- Do something unique right now within your space or community that makes your brand stand apart from the rest. If your brand is not in the public eye, you won’t be on their minds when they’re ready to buy either. Key differentiators close deals.
We know what you’re thinking. Of course, you know the importance of knowing your product or service like the back of your hand. But today’s sales success stories are proving just how essential it is to really transcend to understand how your product or service solves customer problems. And you can’t apply your offering as a solution if you don’t have a complete and thorough knowledge of those relevant applications.
Meet Frank: Frank’s dry cleaning service became popular among the local residents because of its convenient location. But Frank also knows that he uses some of the latest innovations in garment cleaning and eco-friendly sanitizers as part of his process. His customers love the results and efficiency. It’s those differentiating operational details that Frank will need to know inside and out when it comes time to sell to those corporate prospects.
Some entry-level customer questions you should be prepared to answer include:
- The customer has a problem. Does your company offer a way to help solve it?
- What kind of knowledge or tech will they need to use those features?
- Is your service or product customizable to fit their needs?
- Will they have access to any kind of support upon their purchase?
- How much is this going to cost them?
- What kind of real value can they expect from choosing your company?
Prospects are only interested in one thing – what’s in it for them? Your sales strategies should always lead with the pain points that afflict your target buyers. Once you have their keen attention, you can position yourself as the problem solver, addressing issues that matter to them. Stop selling your services as how good you are, how great your product is or why your company is the greatest. Start talking about THEM first, and reel them in with your solutions.
Let’s imagine you’re on a first date, and you spend the entire evening talking about yourself and how great you are; it’ll probably be the last date you go on with that person. Successful dates are usually those that have authentic engagement between both parties, where the sharing of information flows well and in an amicable environment. Sales is often the dance of give and take. Make your sales engagements more meaningful by asking great questions, waiting your turn to respond and offering relevant and enlightening contributions.
When you sell by addressing their needs first, you can weave in your story to derive more power in credibility. Successful sales professionals are incredible storytellers. They have an innate ability to share information and ask questions that the prospect can relate to well. They don’t spend time simply talking about their products, solutions, or company. Now, if you don’t necessarily consider yourself to be a master storyteller, you can follow the lead of others who tap into these strategies when tying in their company stories.
Make the Customer the Hero – No matter what your story entails, look for ways to make the prospect the hero who comes out ahead because of your vision.
Be Entertaining, But Keep It Relevant – It’s ok to be hilarious, but not at the expense of diving way off-topic into the rabbit hole of dumbass stories. Make fun of yourself or share relevant experiences here and there. But don’t venture too far off the path of why you’re engaging.
Have a Clear Sense of Purpose – No one is going to buy from you if, at any point, they feel you’re wasting their time. Be social but stay on track with your messaging, reminding prospects you have a purpose for reaching out in the first place.
Make It Personal, Relatable and Real – Don’t tell stories that aren’t factual or feel inauthentic. For example, if you’re pitching to a church organization, it’s probably not the best idea to talk about that time you hung out with Slayer on their tour bus after that show in 1991. Instead, discuss your fundraising plans to contribute to Toys for Tots. Keep engagements personal and relatable to your audience.
Balance Out the Narrative with Cold Hard Facts – Don’t get so caught up in telling stories that your prospect starts to believe your facts are embellishments that are part of your narrative. Deliver the cold hard facts your prospects need to know and don’t mix data with opinion.
Follow a Loose Outline with a Beginning, Middle and End – The best salespeople know that every engagement, and story for that matter, has a beginning, middle and ending. Break up your sales pitch into these three segments and do your best to adhere to them. A proper introduction followed by relevant narratives and a conclusion will just flow better.
Meet Abby: Abby knows breaking into the catering and corporate lunch market is going to be tough. There are fan-favorite taco trucks on every corner and nearly every other restaurant in town now offers pick-up and delivery service. What she needs to do is find a way to convey her story in her selling. Her family history of serving the area’s best pizza will lend credibility to her new lunch menu of Italian sandwiches, bistro items and portions of pasta. Her sales pitch needs to be engaging to corporate lunch decision-makers and also relevant in value.
If you have the basics of sales under control, you’ll need to take advantage of these higher-level sales trends to close more deals in today’s environment.
Time management might seem like a no-brainer. But in today’s sales climate, every second counts and you’ll probably need to reassess your daily and weekly schedule. Pay attention to how much actual time you devote to cold outreach activities and follow-up calls. Don’t get so caught up in connecting with existing clients that you lose sight of onboarding new clients.
There was a time when the hand-written thank you card was the best way to demonstrate your appreciation for a prospect having taken the time to meet with you. But today, we’re all running on an instantaneous-response environment. Make sure you’re leveraging the right tech tool for the job in each phase of your sales funnel. Otherwise, an untimely response may just be as detrimental as no response at all.
Not every decision-maker on your prospect list has the same responsibilities they once did. The pandemic enforced a lot of changes in how people work, engage and purchase. Make sure you understand what role your key prospects play now in this new environment, so you can intelligently sell accordingly.
Today’s sales leaders and successful business owners are not letting their feet off the gas pedal when it comes to prospecting. Don’t let your sales funnels dry up and look for new ways to generate leads. If you pause for even one day, just know your toughest competitors are charging full steam ahead.
When your customers change what they want or prefer, you’ll start to hear new objections that might not already be in the company sales handbook. Take the time to really listen to what your objecting prospects say so you can effectively develop appropriate rebuttals. And if you’re not on the front lines yourself, make sure your sales teams know to be listening, as well.
Make empathy your friend in the sales conversation. Today’s leaders recognize that it’s the element of the sales pitch that will help you realize the customer pain point. Know where they’re coming from and flex your empathy muscle, so you know precisely how to position your company product or service as the ultimate solution.
Meaningless transactions are a thing of the past. Today’s consumers and business prospects are looking for the “total package” value proposition. Don’t be selling your bottom line short by focusing on the immediate payoff and missing those quality, long-term opportunities.
Salespeople get a bad reputation sometimes because some of the worst offenders were notorious at “getting the sale, no matter what the cost.” This mentality translated to inconsistent negotiation tactics, over-promising and under-delivering and mismanaged expectations. Consumers are growing wise to these shitty ways of closing the deal. Today’s leaders know the value of integrity and consistency with every engagement. It’s what commands (not demands) respect in an authentic way that ultimately converts prospects.
Make your sales process duplicatable. You can be a savvy, genius, smooth talker all you want. But if you can’t replicate your process, you can’t measure the results. And you can’t teach that swagger to other members of your business either. Today’s sales rockstars are embracing the “sales system,” which includes clever use of buyer personas, the buyer’s journey and the sales funnel. Establish your sales process, so you can then track and manage results moving forward.
Explore reinventing your sales strategy in line with some of these results-driven trends. And get ready for the next blog conversation where we explore indirect selling techniques and maximizing your referral network. And if you need help developing your sales process in a way that incorporates some of these latest trends, let Awareness Business Group be your guide!