How can we explain the differences in performance between salespeople? Is it a question of natural talent? Public speaking skills can help, but I can assure you that the best salespeople are not always the smooth talkers.
The solution to improving performance is simple: a good method, hard work and effective time management. And above all, keep looking for ways to improve.
Successful selling does not come from a single action, it is the result of a series of actions that have been well executed that leads to long-term success. Questioning your method will be the starting point for your progress.
And that's good, because by reading this article, you'll have all the keys you need to become an effective and efficient salesperson with our top sales practices! Our article was inspired by a great article posted on Tenfold.com.
1 - Set and monitor targets
A Harvard study found that salespeople who stick to their goals and continually review their progress are 30% more successful than others. Having a goal to achieve greatly increases motivation. Of course, each salesperson has a type of goal that suits him or her best: some need an ambitious final goal, while others prefer to have a succession of small goals to be reached step by step. It is also a mistake to rely on your manager to challenge you on your objectives. You have to take ownership of them and see them as a contract with yourself.
2 - Force yourself to move
Are you having problems motivating yourself? Now is the time to put yourself at risk!
Tell everyone that you are going to achieve such and such a goal by such and such a date: you will be much more motivated when it comes to proving to your colleagues that you are not just a smooth talker. Your self-esteem will dictate your motivation. And this is often much more effective than the classic SMART objectives of your managers.
3 - Study the product and the market
To improve his performance, a good salesperson must not only master sales techniques. He or she must also be an expert on the product (the qualities to be highlighted, the weaknesses to be improved, etc.) but also on the market (what competitors offer, consumer expectations, etc.). This is the best way to be able to adjust his or her pitch to potential customers, a vital skill for making a sale.
4 - Listening rather than talking
Why do we have two ears and only one mouth? Because we have to listen twice as much as we speak.
In sales, this phrase takes on its full meaning. Presenting the attributes of your product without knowing what interests the prospect is not only useless, but can also be detrimental. Answering the wrong question will not advance the customer's interest and they may think that you don't understand their needs. Take the time to listen to your customer: ask the right questions, don't interrupt, answer appropriately, and ask for clarification.
5 - Advising rather than selling
Gone are the days when the goal of salespeople was simply to sell a product at any price. Thanks to the Internet, consumers have access to a vast amount of information. It is no longer enough to be in the right place at the right time.
Your added value as a salesperson now lies in being able to help your customer make a sound, informed and secure buying decision. The aim is to accompany and reassure the prospect in his buying journey.
6 - Highlight the value that the product can bring
The prospect probably already knows the features of your product. There is a good chance that they have already consulted this information on the Internet. The challenge then becomes to highlight what is really a plus: the value that the product will enable them to generate, the practical aspects of its use, how it has benefited other customers...
7 - Sell your product honestly, don't sell a dream
Customers are tired of hearing salespeople present things at their best, even if it means hiding some truths. If what you say is too good to be true, the person you are talking to is likely to feel it. You will then lose their trust, and it will be very difficult to convince them.
8 - Keep your promises
Making promises is a widely used trick to convert a prospect: promising a discount, promising a free trial, promising 5-day delivery... Although very useful, this method is double-edged. If you keep your promises, you will increase your customer's trust. If you don't, you can be sure that you will be dealing with a very dissatisfied customer. So sometimes it is better to promise less than you are able to do than to promise the moon. At worst, the customer will be pleasantly surprised.
9 - Be visible on social networks
Being visible online on social networks is a big plus for sellers. When you introduce yourself to a prospect with your identity, chances are they will search for you on Google or LinkedIn. It is therefore important that your information is up to date. You can also share articles related to your business to reinforce the perception of your expertise.
10 - Join groups on LinkedIn
Having an up-to-date LinkedIn profile is a good start, but you can exploit the potential of this network even more. It's a good idea to join groups that are relevant to your market: it's a great way to keep an eye out for opportunities. It is also a place to meet and exchange, allowing you to share and receive useful information on your field of expertise. Be careful not to use these groups for self-promotion. You will make more enemies than potential partners.
11 - Organise your prospecting by geographical area
A salesperson's efficiency lies in his or her ability to manage time well. For this reason, you should try to optimise your travel. Take the time to organise your days according to location. One effective method may be to make a list of prospects and clients to visit in the same geographical area. Add all the information you need to conduct your interviews in the best conditions.
12 - Start small
To start with, focus on a small base of prospects to satisfy them. Once you have good references and a solid reputation, it will be easier to expand.
13 - Monitor the activity of your competitors
Competition is often fierce in some markets, and it becomes more than strategic to monitor the activity of your competitors. It is advisable to create a document where you gather all the useful information to better understand what are the competitive advantages of your product in order to sell better.
14 - Prefer LinkedIn messages to emails
Another technique to get your customer's attention is to send your message via LinkedIn. Messages sent via email tend to get lost in the pile of emails a company receives every day. LinkedIn messages are more personal and tend to be noticed more quickly because fewer people use LinkedIn messaging.
15 - Personalise your messages
It is true that pre-prepared standard messages make life easier for salespeople. However, it doesn't take much more time to customise a few items in your email to make it more impactful.
16 - Fine-tune your voicemail
Your voicemail announcement becomes the only way a prospect will judge you if they don't have the opportunity to hear from you, so don't overlook its importance. Be sure to include all the information the prospect needs to be effective while being concise enough.
17 - Use 2 screens
Another tip if you are prospecting with a computer is to use two screens. This may seem superficial, but you will find that it saves you a lot of time.
This is a technique widely used by developers to code on one side and observe the results on the other.
For a salesperson, it could be writing an email to a prospect while searching for them on Google.
18 - The importance of an efficient CRM
Having an effective CRM is the key to a salesperson's effectiveness. It is essential to keep your data up to date at every point of contact you have had with your customer. It is also a good management tool to plan your appointments and schedule your calls. Of course, it can be tedious to keep updating the data, but it will pay off in the long run. The time you spend looking for a business card will always be longer than entering the information directly into your CRM. It also has the advantage that you can always have the information at hand.
19 - Spend more time with customers
The main job of a salesperson is to make calls, meet customers and talk to prospects. Any time you spend doing other things is not put to good use. Salespeople need to spend more time with customers to maintain a deep and lasting relationship with them. It's not enough to give them more time in quantity but also in quality: you have to give them your full attention. Ryan Fuller, CEO of VoloMetrix, studied the workings of top salespeople and found that top performers spent up to 33% more time with customers each week.
20 - Using storytelling
Storytelling is an important skill in the sales sector. In advertising, for example, this method is often used to attract the attention of consumers. In sales too, workshops are created to improve this skill. It is important to tell a story in order to appeal to the customer and to make him/her more focused on what you have to say. It can also be useful to recite examples of where your product or service has greatly improved your customer's business. You can also include testimonials on your website or in your marketing materials.
21 - Find out about a customer before you call
New technologies allow salespeople to access customer data. With this information at your disposal, you are armed to prepare your call and choose the right type of message for your prospect. Indeed, customer data is not only useful for marketers. As a marketer, you also need to find out more about the person you are talking to. You can look at their LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook profiles to get some powerful ideas on how to start a conversation.
22 - Ask for feedback on how you are doing
The best salespeople know they can always do better and are always looking for ways to improve. They are not afraid to ask for feedback, whether it is good or bad. When dealing with your customers, take the time to ask for an honest evaluation of your sales process. This is a good way to end a conversation and builds trust between you and your customer. Take the feedback and capitalise on it to improve your next customer's experience.
23 - Don't neglect your customers
In sales, you need to be in the right time frame to seal a deal with your prospects. You must not make them wait, at the risk of making them feel neglected. If you are not aware of this, you may hear from your customers: "I have changed suppliers". Customers are not loyal to a product but to a supplier. Service is the key in a competitive market.
24 - Bring something new to the table when following your prospects
Your customer is probably tired of spending time on you trying to sell them more products. That's why it's important to always have something new to offer them when you visit them. This could be new information about their market, a case study, expert advice... Make a note of all the useful information: you will have less trouble stimulating their interest.
25 - Remember special occasions
Customers are not just buyers, they are people you interact with! Prove that you pay special attention to them on the dates that mark your business partnership. Send them cards on the day they double their sales or on the day that marks a phenomenal growth in profits.
26 - Don't give up too quickly
Not giving up is a mindset to be a good salesperson. A study by Dartnell Corp. stated that 90% of salespeople give up after four tries without getting results. Don't be part of the 90% and persist. Remember this: hard-to-sign customers can become your most loyal customers. All it takes is patience and persistence.
27 - Avoid paperwork (and focus on the sale)
Everyone hates paperwork, but administrative tasks are necessary for business operations and people have to deal with them. The problem is that for the sales department, dealing with paperwork is time consuming. Sometimes it's more profitable to focus on more value-added tasks, such as making a call or meeting with a customer. Wendy Weiss, president of ColdCallingResults.com, puts non-revenue generating activities such as administrative tasks at the bottom of the salesperson's to-do list. She recommends delegating these tasks to others or doing them during off hours. She prioritises interaction with customers to make additional sales and prospecting.
28 - Take stock every weekend
Get Monday off to a good start by organising your week at the weekend.
You will be more efficient if you have your weekly tasks defined and integrated into your calendar.
Lists are effective in keeping you organised and digesting information. No matter how complex an assignment is, breaking it down into tasks makes it easier to understand. Smooth Sale CEO Elinor Stutz relies on an ongoing task list to stay organised and focused:
"At the end of the week, when I still have in mind what I need to do for the next week, I make a list of the most important assignments. I also do this at the end of the day for the next day. This method allows you to have a real follow-up and to prioritise your tasks.
29 - Focus on one task at a time
Many salespeople pride themselves on being multi-taskers: they can go from a call to a meeting while sending an email. But multitasking doesn't always mean greater productivity. Sales trainer Jill Konrath backs this up with figures: "Every time your attention is disturbed by something new, studies have shown that you lose between 20% and 40% of productivity.
30 - Get enough sleep and stay positive
In sales, your performance is closely linked to being enthusiastic and positive. Customers do not want to talk to a salesperson who lacks energy. They need to feel you are alert and positive, both on the phone and face to face. Although sales work is often stressful, do your best to get enough sleep (8 hours of sleep is recommended). Don't forget to have a good breakfast and get yourself in the right condition to face the day in a positive way.
Growth and improvement
31 - Develop your sales network
The most successful sales agents tend to have more friends and business acquaintances. According to a VoloMetrix study, their network is 30 to 40% higher than average. A large customer database contributes directly to better sales, but exchanging with other professionals helps to improve one's methods or expertise.
32 - Check and update your LinkedIn profile regularly
LinkedIn is the first website where clients search for a salesperson or company. Keep your LinkedIn profile up to date, adding all your achievements, seminars you have attended and content you have written.
33 - Share good practice throughout the company
Some people say that the best employees in the company are those who keep the recipe for success to themselves. In fact, the opposite is true. The best salespeople share their knowledge and help to further develop sales practices. Spread good sales practices throughout the company by sharing the tips and lessons you have learned with at least one of your peers every day. Sharing ideas and experiences helps create a culture of excellence, which benefits everyone.
34 - Synchronise sales with marketing
Smart salespeople know they can't do their job alone. Communication between sales and marketing teams positively influences sales.
It is therefore important that the two areas exchange information to coordinate their actions in a coherent manner. The sales action plan must imperatively involve the marketing teams. Sales people have information about customers that marketing does not have and vice versa. Bringing together these two sources of information through exchange will enable the company to perform well.
35 - Read books and blog posts on selling
Learning to sell is a continuous process. The best salespeople take this lesson to heart and keep up to date with the most effective sales techniques: there are a huge number of books and blogs available. You can start reading today. If you have trouble finishing books, start by reading one chapter or blog post a day until it becomes a habit.
36 - Check your performance indicators every night
Good salespeople seek to progress and develop their skills to reach their full potential. The best way to know how well you have performed is to monitor your indicators to see if you have achieved your goals.
Before you go home, ask yourself:
How many calls did I make?
How many calls did I have to make?
How many people said yes?
How many people said no?
How long did it take me to sell?
How much time was wasted?
Many companies have productivity software to help you better track your performance. Look at these numbers to boost and challenge yourself every day.