Build trust, read people and adapt to any situation.
This eBook will examine what distribution field sales reps should be aware of as we look ahead to the future with our 15 tips in three chapters:
Attitude – Start as you mean to go on.
If you are passionate, motivated and determined in your role as a salesperson, then that will reflect in the way you communicate and interreact with others. Whether that’s your colleagues, managers, prospects, gatekeepers or customers – a good attitude reflects the hard work that you do. It is no different to receiving excellent customer service – you’re more likely to buy a product or service from an enthusiastic and confident individual, than you are from someone that doesn’t know the answers to your questions or are blunt and negative.
1. Don’t fear the fear
Being nervous before a pitch is normal. Every good salesperson still feels that tension and anxiousness because they care. They want it to go well and be successful, and even after years of experience, the adrenaline of giving your proposal and selling your products or services to another business will never really go away – you just become more confident and comfortable in what you have to say. Those who use these feelings to keep themselves motivated and ambitious can often perform much better, as the pressure builds them into a smarter seller.
2. Stay positive
Jennifer Allen once said that “Every ‘No’ means that you are one step closer to a ‘Yes’,” so it’s important to keep your head up and stay positive. If a meeting, proposal, pitch or plan doesn’t go as expected, it’s often easiest to throw in the towel and admit defeat. But what makes a good salesperson great, is using these obstacles as a learning curve to overcome future challenges. Bumps in the road are bound to happen, but staying positive and optimistic is what will set you apart.
"Every 'No' means you are one step closer to a 'Yes'."
3. Persevere. No matter what!
Knowing how to get back up after falling down is an essential part of working in sales – however high you fall from. The difference between giving up and pushing yourself to be a better version can make or break a successful salesperson. This industry is tough, but you are tougher.
4. Let’s be honest
When building a strong relationship with prospects and customers, you need to cement a foundation of trust – transparency is key! People can often see through the cracks, so being honest upfront will earn you respect and consideration. For example, if you offer an introductory price or package, stick to it – don’t hide any fees or charges, or sneak the price back up, because, by the end of it, you won’t have a customer at all. People much prefer honesty over being told what they want to hear.
5. If at first, you don’t succeed…
Try, and try again. The world of sales is fierce and competitive, and sometimes you’re bound to be beaten by others, but these hurdles are a valuable lesson that you can learn and adapt from – experiencing these setbacks will teach you how to tackle them better in the future. What works in one pitch may not work in another, but you have the skills and knowledge to overcome any rejections and take your new wisdom to close your next sale.
Action – Actions speak louder than words.
Having the right mindset is a great start, but knowing how to translate that into meaningful actions is where your expertise and professionalism will really show.
A great salesperson will evaluate their prospect and be able to identify what is required in order to achieve the end goals they desire.
Preparation is key, which is why the following tips on how to improve your sales techniques will help your next pitch be a successful one.
6. Use your energy wisely
If you’ve been chasing the same potential prospect for weeks, or even months, and heard nothing back, the chances are it’s a firm no. Even if they have responded to inform you they aren’t interested, it’s easy to want to change their mind – and sometimes you can! – but only if they’re on the fence. If you begin to hassle a decisionmaker with unnecessary communications, they can easily get annoyed and spread the word in their industry. While you should never give up at the first hurdle, you need to know the difference between being pushy and persuasive, and once you have mastered this, you’ll be able to use your energy wisely. Sensing when a prospect is searching for more information about your product or service, and sensing when they are not in the least bit engaged with what you do will help you make a smart sales decision moving forward. Focusing on this will save yourself a lot of wasted time with no-go prospects, which, in turn, will give you a lot more selling time with those that will value what you are selling.
7. Listen and learn
Whilst talking is essentially part of your job description as a sales representative, you should always take the time to listen and learn. To better understand your prospects, you need to hear what they want and need, why they are looking for a new solution and what is stopping them from taking that step.
What is their business about? What are their ambitions for the company?
Has your prospect mentioned a personal story or fact that you can use to your advantage?
Maybe they are a family run business and are searching for something to help their business grow to protect future generations?
Respecting your prospect and giving them a platform to speak will allow you to create a meaningful discussion that will stay with them until they are ready to invest in your product or service. Responding to specific details and needs will be met with much higher success than a typical sales script that isn’t personal or engaging.
8. Nurture those relationships
One of the most valuable sales tips anyone can give you, is to always nurture and build on your customer relationships. From first contact to well-established partnerships, having a foundation of trust, respect and honesty will allow for both parties to feel comfortable as it naturally develops. After you have an ongoing relationship, it won’t feel unusual to call up and take advantage of a cross-sell or up-sell opportunity, as your customer knows you have their best interests at heart.
9. Know your product and know it well
It almost goes without saying, but the difference between knowing your product, and knowing it well can be the difference between closing your next sale or not. Your prospect already expects you to know all the answers to their questions – and why wouldn’t you? – so you need to step up and do your homework if you don’t already know the product like the back of your hand.
Get talking to people in your business to absorb as much information as possible; understand their terminology and language when speaking about the product; adopt their passion and use that when you’re selling it in your next pitch. It’s simple, if you don’t know your product, it will show. Automatically your credibility will decrease and the chances of you successfully closing this sale is already slim. Do your research and take notes.
10. Know your prospects and know them well
Similar to the previous point, if you don’t know your prospect well, it will reflect in the pitch that you make. Understand their business model, their figures, when, how and why they face challenges, what they do to overcome challenges; and everything in between.
Identifying your prospects specific requirements and delivering a pitch completely tailored to their individual business needs will instantly bring a personal element and ensure the decision-maker feels considered and top priority.
"You don't find customers for your products. You find products for your customers."
11. Sell what they need, not what you need
As a sales representative, you will have certain targets that you need to reach each month but pushing products or services onto your prospects/customers – just to hit those sales goals – will not end well.
The most valuable question you can ask is “what can I do for you?”.
Instantly, you are positioning yourself as the most helpful person to that customer, in that moment. You aren’t throwing every offer, package and deal at them and pushing for them to make a decision. You are simply putting their needs first and giving them what they want. If, later down the line, you feel they would benefit from additional products or services, you can take that opportunity to contact the customer and ask – as you have now built a trusting relationship. If you’ve ever heard the saying ‘trying to fit a square peg in a round hole’, it means that there is an opportunity to shape smart change, but you need to place the right solution in the right space. If you work out exactly what shape your prospect is, you can then identify what product or service will be perfectly suited.
12. Ask open-ended questions
Trying to get information out of a prospect can often be like getting blood out of a stone, so you need to be tactical about your approach to retrieving information. Asking questions such as ‘Are you having any issues that I can help with?’ is either going to give you a yes or a no answer (typically no!). But switching that to “What are the main challenges your business is facing at present?” will automatically put them on the spot – in a positive way – and open up about some of the obstacles they are looking to overcome. From here, you can listen, learn and adapt your sales technique to suit their requirements as you have encouraged them to share details that will help you sell to them better. Starting your question with ‘how’, ‘what’, ‘who’, ‘tell me’ and ‘explain to me’ gives you an instant upper hand to asking an open question.
Adaptability – Change is good.
To achieve success in sales, you need to have the ability to interchange and adapt to provide a tailored approach to your prospect – everyone is different, and every business is unique.
Having the skills to switch up your proposal to meet specific needs is what separates a good salesperson from a great salesperson.
While being prepared is always recommended, being ready to change your approach is one of the most successful sales techniques available.
13. You are human and so are they
Being professional and being approachable are two different things that are often not mixed together – but in sales, it’s important to have both. As a salesperson, you can get caught up in the process of a sale that you forget the normal conventions of a conversation. But at the end of the day, you are human and so are they, so staying personable and natural is the best approach to starting a good relationship.
14. Every day is a school day
To continue your professional development and become the best salesperson you can be, you’ll want to dedicate a couple of hours each week to focus on your education. This could be by reading new material in books or articles, listening to podcasts, jumping on a webinar, participating in online courses or shadowing a colleague within your business, learning new techniques, tips and tricks is always important and should be considered a high priority.
15. Technology is your friend
The modern salesperson will now be equipped with smart phones, tablets and laptops to help them achieve their sales targets and keep on top of customer relationships. Whether you’re using a specialized app to plan your day, or a powerful piece of technology, such as sales-i, that delivers data straight to your device, you should be taking advantage of what is available to you in order to make your day-to-day life much easier. Let technology take on the burden of admin work and save you hours of precious time, so you can focus on what really matters – selling smart!
Working in sales involves evolving and adapting on all levels. From being open to new processes, to adapting for the individual and everchanging needs of your prospect of customer. Being open to change is the smartest way to stay prepared in a fast-paced industry where remaining current is key.
Now you're ready to work smart and sell smart.
Sales is a tough gig; it can be both challenging and rewarding in the same day. But having what it takes, with motivation, determination, positivity and perseverance, you will always find a way to come out on top.
Showing the right attitude, preparing for the right actions and learning how to adapt when necessary will allow you to construct a ready sales persona, equipped for any trials and tribulations that come your way.
With these 15 sales tips listed above, you’re now able to progress even further into the successful world of sales.
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