Increase Sales

Need more sales? Let’s examine how well your team is practicing basic, effective selling skills 

You might assume salespeople are already practicing these skills, but in uncertain times, salespeople sometimes fall back on bad habits (price discounting and following poorly qualified leads would be two examples). And now is not the time you should allow bad habits to take root. 

All sales leaders should conduct an audit to see if salespeople are actively practicing these three time-tested selling skills to find and win deals.  

#1: Understand your customer’s biggest problems. 

Often, when I ask a client to tell me what their customer’s problem is, they describe the problem in relation to the product my customer is selling. “They need a software system that does ….” No, they don’t. They have a problem. Here are some examples of problems your customers could have:  

  • Their employees are making mistakes that cost the company money 
  • Their sales cycles are too long.  
  • Their departments, teams, or customers are not getting the information they need, at the time they need it.  
  • They lack the data they need to make strategic decisions.  
  • They don’t have the visibility they need into the supply chain.  

In other words, stop thinking in terms of your product and start thinking in terms of your customer.  

This is why we’ve been advising salespeople to reach out to their customers since social distancing started and shelter-in-place orders took effect – it’s key for sales teams to always have their finger on the pulse of what the customer is experiencing, and to understand the customer’s biggest pain points(Of course, such pain points would include things like coronavirus fears. If you don’t understand the customer’s problems, how are you going to help?)  

Once you fully understand their problem, you can think about how you might help solve it. Bottom line: Stop focusing on your product and start focusing on your client. 

#2: Use words and phrases that align with your customer’s problems and needs.  

It’s not enough to just understand the customer’s problems – you must also use language that speaks to those problems.  

You probably know a lot about the technical aspects of how your product or offering works or is deployed. But this isn’t the time to show off your vast knowledge. This is the time to use the keywords and phrases that align with what the customer is focused on.  

This kind of thing is easy to see in a B2C example. Once I went car shopping with my stepmom many years ago, long before the proliferation of cup holders in cars. She was very clear on the problems she wanted the dealer to solve: She wanted a red convertible with a peppy engine and cup holders. Those were the things that mattered to her (i.e. her definition of value).  

But, at the lot, the salesperson droned on about warranties and safety features until we wanted to scream. None of that information had anything to do with what she wanted to buy.  

You have to talk to your customers about the things that matter to them. They want to understand how, in general terms, your solution solves their problem. They don’t want to get into the functionality or specs of your product until they understand conceptually:

  • That you can fix their problem,  
  • Help them achieve a goal (business or personal),  
  • Help them avoid something they fear or  
  • Get them something they want.   

Whether you sell B2B or B2C, your customer doesn’t want to be bogged down in details until they answer how you are going to solve a business problem. 

#3: Keep selling.  

In late March as the COVID-19 crisis grew and many sectors of the economy were plunged into a sudden recession, there was talk of hitting the pause button on sellingI agree with the people who’ve pointed out that selling is a solution-oriented profession. In a crisis, everyone needs solutions – more than ever. So, no: It does not make sense to stop selling. 

In fact, I’d say it’s more important than ever to practice what we have taught sales leaders for years. Get your salespeople out there so they can sell.  

The pandemic has taught us that connecting with customers is paramount, and you have to meet them where they are.  Here are some best practices your salespeople should follow.  

  • Ask for referrals. Referrals are one of the easiest ways to sell (tip: test your “referral IQ” with this quiz when you subscribe to the NoMoreColdCalling newsletter). Ask your happy customers to introduce you to people who might need what you sell. Then, get in touch with them. Let them know you understand the problem they have and ask if they’d like to hear about a possible solution.   
  • Go where the growth is. The collective steps we’ve taken in response to the pandemic caused certain segments of the economy to crash almost immediately – but pockets of growth are out there! It’s your job to find them. Data is your friend, here. Last month TrustRadius started tracking software industry statistics related to COVID-19in mid-April, for example, their data showed a spike in Google searches related to web conferencing solutions, telemedicine, and electronic signature solutions, among others. As a salesperson, it’s your job to identify where the opportunities are, so start drawing on whatever data, research, or market trends you can and go where the growth is.  
  • Expand offerings for existing customers. One of the easiest and overlooked ways to grow sales is often to expand your services to existing customers – and now may be an ideal time to explore that, since a lot of customers’ priorities and concerns have shifted dramatically over the past few months. As you talk with customers, look for points of alignment between what they need and what you might be able to offer. Collaborate with marketing and other departments to find creative solutions. Your customers will appreciate the initiative; you could end up developing a viable solution that would help you pursue a new market segment. 

Want customized ideas about how you can help your salespeople increase sales? Schedule an appointment and let’s see where and how you can grow sales right now. 

About the Author Liz Heiman

A strategic thinker, sales strategist, Japanist, and Rotarian, Liz is a coach, trainer, and prolific speaker on the topics of sales and sales leadership. Liz loves sales, and enjoys working with sales leaders to create strategies and processes that make sense AND bring in results.

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