Professional Saleswomen of Nevada had their first ever Sierra Sales Summit this last month. We had an amazing time, and learned some actionable tips to increase sales! Four completely different speakers and topics, but all incredible insights that will increase your sales. Here’s what you missed in case you didn’t make it.
1. You’re Not Listening.
Jill Tolles, communication expert, reminded us that sometimes you just need to be “Listening Your Way to the Sale.” Asking the right questions and presenting are only part of moving a sales forward. If you listen you learn and it directs your actions.
Jill showed us that by identifying strengths and weaknesses in your listening skills you can have a better idea on how to improve them. So often in sales we are caught up in talking our way to the close, when we really should be listening and then responding.
By listening and truly hearing your customer you can better understand your customer. Rather than anticipating what they are going to say or worrying about what you will say next.
She also taught us that we communicate with not only our words, but our bodies. We use nonverbal communication cues as much as we use words, and should be aware of our nonverbal cues and the cues we get from our prospects. Here is a slide from Jill’s presentation that explains some of these cues and their meanings:
2. Drop the Defensiveness.
Amy Atkinson Combs, Communication Expert at Powerful Non-Defensive Communication, reminded us to drop the defensiveness! Scientists are now proving that when we become defensive, the chemistry in our brains changes and we lose our ability to be creative and problem-solve; to think “outside the box.” Our two reactions become: Fight or Flight. Whether “Fight or Flight”, you will end up hurting your sale, and your ability to sell.
When selling make sure to check for signs of defensiveness, from yourself and your prospects. Here is a slide from Ami’s presentation with some of the physical signs of defensiveness:
Ami explained that our brain’s immediate response to disagreement is to get defensive. To combat that we need to be vulnerable. By being vulnerable and honest we can turn conflict into cooperation and resentment into understanding. By using language that embraces our vulnerabilities, instead of hiding them, we look stronger to our customers and feel stronger within ourselves.
Have you ever tried to convince someone of something and felt like no matter what you said it wasn’t getting through to them? That is because, as Ami explained, convincing someone of anything doesn’t work! She explained it perfectly with this quote by Sharon Strand Ellison.
“Every time you’ve ever tried to convince anyone of anything the greater likelihood is that you’ve helped entrench them further in their own position.”
So how do we communicate effectively without sounding defensive? Amy explained that you need to practice asking curious questions. You can ask questions:
- About what the person means by a particular word or phrase
- About our own assumptions regarding what the person means
- About the person’s intentions
You ask in a tone that is non-defensive, almost flat. By asking these powerful curious questions you will better understand your customer, and close more sales!
3. Change Your Clothes.
Kathleen Audet, Image Consultant at Your Authentic Image, taught us that our “Clothes Affect our Close Ratio.” What we wear can speak as loud as our words, and could be affecting our sales. She gave us some powerful wardrobe tools to give us a competitive edge.
Line and Fit. She helped us understand that there are lines in our clothing from the prints to the angles of the seams, and we should be aware of what they are associated with. For example, a straight sharp line on a blazer shows authority, where as polka-dots are associated with being playful and more causal. By understanding these lines you can use them to get your point across when selling. For salespeople the best look is one of approachability and credibility. Wear lines that give you credibility in fabrics that make you approachable. It’s important that whatever you wear it fits well. This too will give you more credibility. Buy clothes that fit or have them tailored to fit you.
Wardrobe. We live in a world where the current standard of business attire is called, “Business Casual.” The problem is, that no one seems to know what that means. Kathleen explained that we have to understand the culture of our business to dress with purpose. For example, if you are going to a meeting with a potential customer in Silicon Valley’s Tech Industry, you could wear jeans and a blazer. If, however, that prospect was in New York City’s Financial District, you would need to wear a full three piece suit. Try to build your wardrobe around the culture and brand of your business.
Authenticity. I think Kathleen put it perfectly when she said, “It’s time to close the gap between your true essence and what your clothes say about you.” By being authentic in your attire, you will feel more confident, and when you feel more confident you will close more deals!
4. Plan and Practice.
Alice Heiman, Founder and Chief Sales Officer of Alice Heiman LLC, taught us that to close more of our deals we need to plan and practice. Alice put it perfectly when she said “Salespeople are like athletes and should practice like them.” Planning is incredibly important to close the sale, but so is practicing.
Alice told us that the key is what you do before you go on the call. Preparing properly will give you more confidence. Prepare by considering all the details. Take a look at what you know and what you need to know before the meeting. Collect as much helpful information as you can from your internal team, the prospects website, their social media and any of the contacts who will give you coaching.
She says that once you have this information you can better plan the questions you will ask and what information you will share.
When you are prepared you can relax and use the listening skills Jill taught to really hear the answers to the questions you thoughtfully prepared.
Alice told us that it’s important to get commitment to the next logical steps before leaving the meeting. Ask for a commitment and agree on the time and date to meet again. If they are interested in moving forward they will commit. If not, you know the sale won’t be moving forward. It’s good to know either way.
For more information on sales call planning email Alice at email@example.com You can also follow Alice on Twitter, @AliceHeiman.
To say that I learned a lot at the Sierra Sales Summit would be an incredible understatement! All four of these speakers taught me something different about sales. I feel like this is a powerful combination that will lead to increased sales. You can use the non-defensive communication tactics, we learned from Ami, to come up with the questions and preparation for your Sales Call Plan, we learned from Alice. You can combine your non-verbal ques, we learned from Jill, with the strategic dressing tips we learned from Kathleen to make sure that your body is assisting you in the close. It seems to me that this powerful combination will increase your sales!
Want to increase your sales? Join us at the Sales3.0 Conference in Chicago.
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