Not going to beat around the bush here…follow these 20 tips top sales training programs should be teaching for greater sales success! Some of them are my own, others I have collected through the years from very smart people.
1. Always work from a formal process
True professionals work from a repeatable sales processes. If you develop a process or follow your company’s, they always know what to do or say next. Also, you are 50 percent more likely to meet quota. Steps for a basic process might include:
Research the prospect online, including using social media and LinkedIn
Ask a mutual connection for an introduction
Develop a presentation based on research of company needs
Make an appointment
Make list of questions to ask
Leave collateral if no close
Follow up per plan built into CRM
2. If you don’t possess natural sales aptitude, find another job
This can sound harsh, but it is very kind advice. Take the APQ sales aptitude assessment. If it indicates you are not cut out for sales, invest your energy elsewhere. You will be more fulfilled doing work you have a natural knack for instead of struggling in a high-stakes job such as sales.
3. Focus on a few top prospects (ABM)
This is now known as Account Based Management, where you focus on the clients most likely to close and provide a great ROI on your effort. The concept is not new, but the technology which helps make it easier at an enterprise-level is.
For smaller businesses, you don’t need a complicated marketing stack. Just research to develop a list of the top 50 or 200 or whatever accounts you can actively target.
4. Use coaches to fully understand customer requirements and grease the wheels
A coach is an insider who can provide helpful information for selling to a particular prospect. They could be an employee, friend, family member, or business associate. They not only provide intel, but they can also help secure an appointment and even recommend you to the target. Top sales training programs show you how to develop coaches.
5. Send written Thank You notes
I’ve heard this advice for about 30 years now. I rarely receive a handwritten note. When I do, it sends a very powerful message: this person invested the time to write me, so must be pretty motivated to start a relationship. If they follow up in a friendly and helpful manner a few times via email or phone, they are very likely to get an appointment with me.
6. Always ask for referrals. You don’t do this enough, admit it
Top sales training programs all stress the value of referrals, and many salespeople don’t take it seriously enough. You don’t need to wait for the deal to close to ask for referrals. In fact, you might close the referral before you close the referrer!
Referrals should be asked for as many times as possible, even after the first sales call if the buyer seems impressed and excited with you.
7. Respond quickly
Being slow-to-respond shows you simply don’t care. Respond quickly. Two hours tops for emails. The prospect knows very well you carry your smartphone with you always, and have seen his or her email. If you cannot reply in depth, let them know you see their message and will respond within X hours.
Many times, the very first vendor who responds is the one who gets the business, especially if the buyer needs an answer NOW and is anxiously waiting replies.
8. Make sure they have the money
This really means “qualify your prospect,” but the biggest actual barrier to sales is a lack of money or credit. Before you waste a lot of time, research and make sure they have the means to buy or will get it in the near future.
That being said, don’t ignore them if they don’t have the money. Keep in touch, and sell them smaller offerings to keep them loyal.
9. Use LinkedIn messages instead of email
LinkedIn messages are rare compared with emails. So, you are more likely to get your message read with the former, rather than the latter. Once a reply is received, then you can request the conversation be moved to regular email or a phone call.
10. Listen more than you talk
This is still a problem for many sales people, even though the top sales training programs all emphasize this point. It doesn’t mean standing there mute, it means asking intelligent questions so the customer practically sells himself by giving all the information you need to offer your product or service as a solution to his or her woes.
In B2B sales, where the average tickets runs in the tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars, the least you could do is research your prospect well enough to know something about them both personally and professionally. And if you are really clever, you use that information when contacting them (without crossing over into being creepy or stalker-like, please).
You can comment about news regarding them, mention a mutual friend, or otherwise let them know you took the time to send a personal message instead of a mass automated email.
12. Don’t give up until at least 12 touches
Used to be about 5 touches. Now it’s about 12, thanks to the sheer noise online. Most sales people give up after 3 or 4 contacts. If you and a competitor get a lead at the same time, by simply planning for 12 contacts in your CRM, you stand a much greater chance of being the only one still contacting that prospect after a few weeks. Guess who wins the business?
13. Believe in your product or service
If you do not believe your product or service can help solve a prospect’s needs in an ethical way, what are you doing selling it? No company is perfect, but you should have a firm belief that what you are selling will be beneficial, or you will a) not be convincing b) feel terrible about yourself after every sale if you have any kind of soul.
14. Always be prospecting
What I mean by this is to never rest just because you have a full pipeline. Maintain a high prospecting volume. As sales trainer Tom Hopkins says, the secret to success in sales is meeting 20 people belly to belly every day. Don’t miss that networking lunch or sending out your email campaign just because you think you have too much business to handle more. Hint: get an assistant if you are truly this busy.
Top sales training programs will teach plenty of prospecting methods to keep the deals coming.
15. Develop a Key Discriminator or USP
A key discriminator or unique selling proposition is a very brief statement as to why they should choose you. It’s what sets you apart from the competition. Now, if you don’t have a competitive advantage, don’t compete. Figure this out before you go out in the field and waste opportunities. One could be “We are the only office furniture chain which delivers the same day you place your order, so you don’t have to wait.” Or, “Our office furniture comes with a buy-back program so you can refresh your office regularly and affordably.”
16. Always give something extra
Its good policy to under-promise and over-deliver. It usually results in absolutely delighted customers. However, a few caveats follow. Anything you give extra must be recognizable by the customer as such, or they will come to expect it next time. In other words, they will take it for granted. The extra cannot be too much or you will lose too much profit.
What can you give? Small gifts, free inspections, free installation, co-marketing or referrals, lunch for the office staff – sky’s the limit!
17. Ask the Net Promoter Score question
One of the simplest ways to gauge customer satisfaction in the Net Promoter Score, which top sales training programs should always teach. It is incredibly simple. Here is the question you ask: “On a scale of one to ten, how likely is it that you would recommend us to your friends and colleagues?”
Ifthey answer 9 or 10, they are considered Promoters (happy customers who will refer you). If they answer 7-8, they are considered neutral, or Passive. 0-6 means detractors, or unhappy campers. Now you have something to work with to increase their satisfaction. You can follow up with “What was the most important factor which led you to use that score?” to get some insight. Or, “Does anyone come to mind who we can contact?” to get the referral.
BTW, to figure out your NPS score, simply divide the percentage of Detractors from the percentage of Promoters. That’s your NPS score! (Ignore the Passives.) The higher the better. Below zero, and you have a real problem.
18. Never give up on a worthwhile customer you didn’t close
This goes beyond the “12 touches” rule. This is when you totally lost the deal and a competitor won the contract. You don’t give up. Follow up with these people every three to six months to find out how things are going.
Just by being there, you can get the business when the other supplier messes up or when your contact moves to another employer.
19. Focus on the entire customer experience
Enterprise-level CMOs are focusing more on the brand experiences rather than transactions and product. This means personalized marketing messages, fast response time, excellent service, quick delivery – believe me every touch point can and should be optimized for the best experience possible.
All of the previous points in this post, if adopted, will provide for a better customer experience, wouldn’t you agree? So, this could make a great checklist to start.
20. Make friends and help them out
If you view this as your role, how could you not love your job as a sales person? This small shift in viewpoint can turn your whole day around. Next time you feel in a rut, think about making friends out in the community, and providing your product or service to help them improve their businesses and their lives. It will certainly make you look at prospecting a whole lot differently, as I am sure you will likely prefer to talk to more potential “friends” than “people I have to sell to.”