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As salespeople we all have a variety of tools and tactics at our disposal. Some are more industry-specific — ones that are strictly applicable to particular products and services.

Others might only apply to certain sales methodologies but sales techniques aren’t always so niche.

Some can be applied almost universally, and any salesperson stands to gain a lot by thoroughly understanding and adeptly applying them — strategies that should have a place in every sales professional’s back pocket.

So what are the five of the most important sales techniques to use.

1. Extensively research your prospect.

Preparation is key to successfully directing a meeting with a prospect. If you want to guide the conversation, anticipate relevant objections, understand what points are worth stressing, and know what topics not to mention, you MUST do your homework. The main way to get there is by conducting extensive research on your prospect.

Know their strengths, weaknesses, and place in their industry. Have a feel for how both they and their competitors have been performing recently and historically. Find out if their competition has been leveraging resources made by your competition and how they’re fairing as a result.

Have a comprehensive picture of their business as a whole, so you can identify any cracks in their operations that your product or service can fill. Identify the specific issues they’re facing, and be able to articulate why your business is best equipped to handle them.

2. Understand and preempt your most common sales objections.

Sales objections are a fact of sales life. You’re bound to run into them on a consistent basis. It’s also reasonable to assume that multiple prospects will raise the same concerns.

There’s no doubt you’ll notice a thread of common objections emerge throughout your sales efforts, so if you want deals to go as smoothly as possible, it serves you to understand those issues and get ahead of them.

Don’t wait idly by for your prospects to bring those issues up. Instead, try to organically integrate those problems and their solutions into your efforts. That could be through modes like storytelling, setting up hypothetical situations and product applications, or any other scenario-based explanation that’s not too heavy-handed or unrealistic.

3. Take ownership of the conversation.

Basing your sales efforts on a healthy, constructive dialogue with your prospect is often an effective sales strategy, but if you go down that road, you need to make sure you’re the one in control. Don’t give buyers the impression that they’re going to be left to their own devices after your pitch.

They want someone who they can trust to guide them through the nuances and intricacies of their specific business challenges. If you take a backseat in the conversation, you’re undermining your place in it and, in turn, your authority in your field.

Bear in mind, control doesn’t mean dominance. It’s a matter of being able to reference examples of relevant work in the customer’s industry with concise messaging and thoughtful insight about how your product or service suits their specific interests.

4. Identify needs your prospect isn’t considering.

It can be easy to rely solely on the information your prospect is giving you to inform your sales efforts and the pain points you address, but there’s always room for more than they’re discussing. There’s a good chance you’ll be able to identify needs your prospect hasn’t explicitly asked about or alluded to.

Your product or service can often remedy unaddressed, under-appreciated, unconsidered issues your buyer might be facing. Being able to touch on those problems organically can create an untapped sense of urgency behind your conversation.

In most cases, you can squeeze more out of your offering’s applications and capabilities than your prospect anticipates. Prospects run into challenges they might not discuss with you or even be fully aware of.

5. Don’t be afraid of silence.

Just because silence can be awkward doesn’t mean it can’t be useful — particularly when it comes to sales. If you’ve just offered your final proposal, don’t just keep talking to avoid some tension. Giving your prospect some tactful, dead silence can give both them and you some space to accomplish a lot.

For one, silence allows them to take a second to consider and better comprehend your offer. Let them think things over a bit. Don’t be too quick to jump back in because you’ve conflated their lack of talking with lack of interest.

It also can help after you’ve asked them a particularly thoughtful question that warrants a long answer by communicating genuine interest. On top of that, silence lets prospects reveal their true needs and concerns by giving them more room to speak without reservation.

Silence might be awkward, but you can’t be too put off by it. You need to embrace it and use it to your advantage.

The sales techniques you leverage will vary according to factors like your industry, your position, the degree to which you interface directly with prospects, and your preferred sales methodology. Still, no matter how those components line up for you, it’s important to consider the techniques on this list.

These tactics — taken in both principle and practice — will help guide you through your general development as a sales professional and allow you to more tactfully navigate the individual deals you engage in.

If you’re struggling to sell, then consider one of our sales training or coaching packages.

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