Every business owner thinks about increasing sales, but gives little thought to the essence of this concept. What is a sale? It is the exchange of the value of a product for another value, namely money. A transaction occurs only when the buyer receives more than he thinks he will pay. The essence of a sale is to transfer the exceptional value of your product to the buyer. Where does the value emerge? That’s right, in the mind of the buyer.
So, selling is the ability to create value in the mind of the buyer with his own thoughts, without imposing his point of view on him. That is, the buyer himself must analyze the arguments and draw conclusions, want your product and make a decision to buy.
Effective selling is based on expertise, empathy (the ability to put yourself in the other person’s shoes) and practicing negotiation techniques. Sales techniques are the tip of the iceberg and won’t make you a top-notch salesperson without the first two aspects.
It’s worth remembering that the customer is a predator who senses fear, uncertainty and weakness. A salesperson must nonverbally convey confidence in their product, service, and company, inspire trust, and more importantly, be able to listen.
Albert Mehrabian’s 7-38-55 Communication model says that 7% of the meaning of feelings and attitudes takes place through the words we use in spoken communications, while 38% takes place through tone and voice and the remaining 55% of communication of these factors take place through the body language we use (specifically our facial expressions).
Each technique should be applied at the reflex level to be a natural continuation of your negotiation style. If the customer senses a trick or manipulation, the failure of your communication is inevitable.
My name is Konstantin Tesov, I have been working in sales since 2011 and now I am a head of Uwindi Agency. I would like to share my experience with you and help you achieve good results in sales. I collect and improve these techniques that have proven themselves in practice and I like to share them.
Sales techniques and tricks
Determine the purpose of the negotiation. At the beginning of communication with a customer, it’s important to be clear about the purpose of your negotiations. Set a maximum goal and a minimum goal. The maximum goal is, for example, a meeting or a contract. The minimum goal is to make contact, arrange a call in 1-2 days, or ask for a referral. The negotiation goal should move the sale to the next stage of the sales funnel. If you don’t know the purpose of the negotiation, you’re a consultant, not a salesperson.
Put yourself in the customer’s shoes. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes. What would you like to get? What would you like and what would you not like? How would you like to be treated? Perform a detailed analysis and discover many interesting things.
Establish a relationship. The first contact can be established by a compliment or a so-called small talk – a conversation about something or a topic close to the customer’s heart. You need to drop the masks and status right away. Speak to the customer respectfully and in a way that makes them feel like they’re communicating with a close friend. If you don’t build rapport with the customer right at the beginning of the conversation, every question you ask and every attempt to sell something will hit the customer’s defensive wall.
Take off the salesperson’s mask. Care first and foremost about problem finding and problem solving for the customer. People want to make their own decisions; don’t deprive your interlocutor of that opportunity. But help him make the “right” decision. Offer alternatives. Bring the situation to a point where it would be foolish to reject your product. Investigate the customer’s situation and get permission to make the decision.
Establish trust. If for some reason the potential customer doesn’t buy, it’s probably because they don’t trust you on a subconscious level. Selling is all about inspiring trust. If they like us, they’ll listen to us, trust us, and buy the product. You can’t just skip to the last step, it’s important to go through each step and build a relationship. I don’t really like the analogy to dating, but it’s true – you can’t get a kiss without getting to know each other first.
“People buy trust before they buy products.”Mark Stevens, founder of MSCO.
Show interest. People are talkative when you show interest in them. Be interested in the customer, in his problems. Let him talk about himself. “Is your tongue itching? Avoid boasting. Do you want to highlight your experience? Provide facts.
Show empathy. Empathy and attention to the other person are key to disposition. Talk to the customer about their feelings and concerns. Empathy will keep the customer emotionally attached to you. People are willing to pay more when they feel heard and understood.
Apply active listening. Let the customer have their say and express their emotions and what is important to them. Active listening requires emotional intelligence. Nothing false or mendacious should be said, or you will be taken for a ride. Do not react to what the customer says if it is not to your advantage.
You need to know how to keep quiet. The best sales pitch is when the customer is talking and you are silent. When a person speaks, they lose their aggressiveness. Confidence is strengthened. Every word a salesperson says risks the customer raising an objection. The more the salesperson speaks out of turn, the more the customer becomes annoyed. Do not interrupt the customer, but let him finish his thought. Clarify whether you have understood him correctly. Then answer the question.
Sell the conversation. B2B deals are better closed in a face-to-face conversation. You should always have a good reason to make an appointment. Develop questions that allow the customer to understand his “incompetence” and encourage him to address the problem. Arouse his interest. The customer will agree to meet with you if there is an understandable reason. Make him understand the importance of personal communication with you in the office.
Be consistent. The secret is to get a little agreement from the customer. Relevant to big deals. You can not sign a multi-million dollar contract out of the blue. Consistency drives sales. Work with small commitments, arrange a follow-up call, a new meeting, or get permission to remind yourself to send material and initiate a response.
Identify obvious and hidden problems. Map out the problem areas and see how important they are to the customer. Once you have identified the problem, offer the customer a solution and emphasize your company’s expertise in solving that particular problem. Dig up hidden problems and bring them to the surface. This will reinforce the customer’s need for your product/solution.
Ask questions. The one who asks the questions sets the script and controls the negotiation. Do not give up the initiative by allowing yourself to ask lots of questions. Control the negotiation. Always ask your own question after answering the customer’s question without interrupting the conversation.
Translate benefit and value. Your solution is interesting when it multiplies the benefit to the customer. Keep this in mind when negotiating and preparing proposals. Emphasize meaningful benefits. In your offer, mention the features/characteristics of the product that the customer is willing to pay for. The product has features whose benefits are clear to the seller but not to the customer. Translate the features into benefits. For example, “This vacuum cleaner sucks air at 100 m/s – you’ll vacuum the carpet in 5 minutes.”
Ask a commitment. The customer should always provide something in return for your action. For example, if you make an appointment with an appraiser for home repairs, ask the customer to let you know if they can not make the appointment, since appraisers work for you by the hour. Another example: in order to provide an estimate for a project, the customer must complete a short questionnaire (or meet with you) and so on. Do not accept the position of “gofer.” Obtain a mutual commitment or action.
Guide the process. Determine the next step. Be persistent, justify deadlines and dates. Do not let the customer hang up without determining the next step.
Self-reflection after the conversation. You had a communication with the customer. Now pick up a pen and paper and write down the pros and cons, what was good and where you did not close, what issues caused difficulty, what influenced the customer. A thoughtful analysis of 10-20 of your own conversations will tell you more than any sales trainer.
Avoid arguments. Look for a solution, do not try to argue or change your mind. Take the customer’s point of view first, then provide arguments to think about.
Leave room for maneuvering. The more actively you demonstrate your superiority and position, the more you repel and irritate the interlocutor. The result is the customer’s fundamental refusal to cooperate. Even if you are right in your arguments, the customer does not want to do business with you. People do not like to be pressured and have their wrongdoing exposed. Be smarter, use “streamlined” language. Allow the customer to back off in the direction you want. There should be some leeway in a negotiation without applying pressure. Do not pressure the customer because when they are under pressure, you want to run away. There is a natural need to protect yourself, even if the offer is advantageous. Tell the customer that they are making the decision and that you are happy with any outcome of the negotiation.
Overlap a competitor. After you find out your customer’s needs, try to overlap your competitor in terms of your customer’s basic selection criteria. To do this, you need to know exactly the product you’re selling. To highlight the importance and benefits of your solution, you can use constructs such as, “You need us because … it means a benefit/opportunity for you that our competitors don’t have.”
Use pauses. Intentionally try to create an awkward pause in the conversation; this “loosens the tongue” All people are talkative and “chat out of the closet” A pause at the right moment can provide more information than a dozen questions. People are uncomfortable when there is an awkward silence. That’s just the way we’re built.
Use “You get it.” instead of “we offer …”. Formulate a meaningful benefit for each feature of the product. For example, “We’ve been on the market for 10 years” = “You’ll get an experienced partner who will solve your problem with confidence” or “We work with 30 well-known companies” = “Over 30 well-known companies have already solved their problem with our solution this way…” The customer is always afraid of losing a weighty advantage when it has a real value. Remember the analogy with the scale – we pay less, we get ten times more.
Use just facts, not estimates. Better prices and higher quality are an opinion. “Hardened steel material” are facts. Provide information to evaluate the product in your favor. Avoid value judgments – best product, quality, leader and so on. Convey quality and leadership with facts, not personal opinions. By the way, don’t forget to get the customer’s prior permission for your opinion, recommendation or review. This is very important.
Find your customer’s selection criteria. It’s a newbie mistake to bombard everyone with arguments. Define the customer’s selection criteria clearly and prioritize them. Strengthen the criteria where you win and loosen the criteria where you fall short. Create a list of arguments and distribute them in order of importance. Use them when appropriate. Your arguments will only work if they target important selection criteria.
Be helpful. Do more than is expected of you. Let the customer know that you care about them, regardless of the outcome of the negotiation. Share useful material or information. Even if the customer doesn’t buy now, he or she is sure to remember that you are the right person to do business with. A sense of debt is a strong anchor. People want to pay back debts, that’s how the psyche works. We don’t like to feel in debt.
State a specialization. For example, you’ve been approached by a company that needs to store office equipment in a warehouse. Designate that you specialize in storing office items, know everything about how to transport and pack office equipment. Specialization sets you apart from the competition.
Translating a “disadvantage” into an advantage. For example, if you are far away, and the client is important remoteness, say – “We are far away, but thanks to this we have a large warehouse where customers can put in long term storage of their oversized cargo” or “Yes, our office is further than the competition, but we deliver on the day and cheaper than competitors, so you save on shipping without losing much in speed”.
Contrast the past with the future. If a customer says they’re happy with everything now, show a positive future with the product or a negative future without the product. Show where competitors will be who will use such a service or product. Fear of loss of benefits stimulates action. No one wants to be left out of the market.
Join the customer’s position. If we express understanding, we go from being an opponent to being an ally. To join the customer’s position is to look in the same direction. At the same time, to support does not mean to accept. After listening to an opinion, we put forward our arguments, focusing on the client’s benefits. The earlier you become “your own” on a subconscious level, the more likely you are to close the deal. You take the position of an ally. To begin with, it is worthwhile to study the client’s problems and benefits, so that you have a point of reference in this technique. For example: “… I understand you, and I would do the same if I were in your position. Besides, I think that … (accept the client’s position in your own words). Nevertheless, given the need for … (the client’s ultimate benefit), you can consider … (solution) which will give you … (2-3 key benefits important to the client).
Tell a success story of a similar company. Customers love stories of customers who are similar to them, especially in a similar business segment. Describe how you’ve already solved a problem in detail – this builds credibility. A compelling success story removes the barrier on a subconscious level. You begin to be trusted. Back up the story with evidence, thank-you notes, details. Otherwise, your success story won’t be convincing.
Restriction/Deadline. Any restriction works only after the client realized the value and subconsciously allows the fact of purchase. Until then, such manipulation is not effective. Deadline – the strongest lever in the sale. Quantity limits, specials, last chance to buy and so on are effective purchase triggers. Use them wisely. “There are only two products left in stock for your specifications, and one of them you already wanted to pick up today. Shall we reserve the second product just in case for you?”.
Push to action. “Book it? Checkout? Deliver?” Booking.com did an analysis of their sales and came to a staggering conclusion – adding just one word, “Book it?” at the end of the conversation increased the company’s sales by more than 20%. Think about it, chances are there are similar words in your business that can organically nudge a customer into action.
Rejection is no reason to get discouraged. There are customers who have not realized the value of the product, not ready to buy right now, but a little later would recommend you to friends, and so on. Make the most of every opportunity. The customer said “no” is potential. The sale begins with the word “no.” Profit growth is all about working with a customer who says “no.”
17. 92% of salespeople give up after four “no’s”, but 80% of prospects say “no” four times before they say “yes”.Marketing Donut.
Don’t burn bridges. Get permission to contact and remind about yourself. If you leave a positive impression, the customer will get back to at the right time.
Journal: “Sales Management №3.2022”.
Article: “Top sales techniques that have been proven in practice.”
Author: Konstantin Tyesov, Managing Director, Uwindi Agency.