The art to the perfect deal has long been debated by business leaders and academics alike. But when it comes to being highly persuasive and winning big, what are the real traits of a successful sales leader? David Freedman, Director of Sales at leading sales and negotiation specialists, Huthwaite International, the team behind the world-famous SPIN® Selling, reveals the key tactics implemented by the world’s most influential sales people, and how these can be adapted for SME leaders.
1) Send the right message
You might have the best product on the market and use all the latest industry jargon to sell, but being an SME can put you on the back foot, customers want proven longevity and SMEs sometimes struggle to prove that, not least if they are a relatively young company. So every point counts when it comes to sales, if you don’t look the part, your sales are likely going to stagnate. Prospects want to do business with a professional, and one’s interpretation of ‘professional’ includes the look. Dishevelled clothing, poorly prepared notes and other indicators of a salesperson in a rush can mean that even the most effective sales persuasion techniques are ignored. It’s also worth noting that high-pressure tactics don’t work nearly as well for long term sales, than a more considered approach that builds on your core values and is centred on trust.
2) Focus on building a rapport
While we are on the topic of trust, it’s essential that you are mindful of the age-old sales saying – ‘people don’t buy products, they buy a person’. Trust is the cornerstone of sales in any market, and the bedrock of all sales persuasion techniques. By building a rapport with your prospects and clients, sales are sure to follow. Nurture leads so they feel you’re listening to their needs and are willing to make a contribution to their business – in turn they are likely to invest in you as a person.
3) Point out the differentiators
All sales people looking for new persuasion techniques have heard that it’s the sizzle, not the steak, that leads to a deal. The key is understanding that the sizzle is in the differentiators, what makes a product or service better, faster, more desirable than its competition’s? Your task is to identify these ‘sizzles’ and sell based on how this will build and positively impact your prospect’s business more so than your competitors. Looking at how you can improve the client’s current service and product and how it will impact on their bottom line is a sure way to secure that deal.
4) Build a sense of urgency
Urgency is one of the most important sales persuasion techniques because it works. However, sales persuasion techniques based on urgency don’t need to involve pressure and clear-cut deadlines to be effective; even implying that a deal that closes before you leave a pitch could somehow be better than a deal that closes next week, can build the urgency needed to make sales in record time, without being viewed as pushy.
5) Lead prospects to a sale
Some businesses can be guilty of using the wrong approach, telling prospects what they believe they want to hear, instead of asking persuasive questions, can be off putting. Questions like ‘Do you need a product that works quickly or a product that takes time?’ are known as double binds, and can be very effective sales persuasion techniques.
6) Ask for the business
Even for top sales people, direct sales persuasion techniques are difficult to master. Psychologically, it is difficult to come out and ask, ‘so when will you take delivery?’ or ‘can I count on your signature?’ Yet a sales person who doesn’t ask these questions when appropriate will see sales slipping through their fingers at the last minute. Master the art of asking for the business, and you will see your sales numbers improve almost overnight.