November 22, 2013 Marketing en_US Even if you're better at running team meetings than running sales calls, these sales tips will help you improve your technique and close your next deal. https://quickbooks.intuit.com/cas/dam/IMAGE/A0XJQka9O/c720a1b9586d69c8e58779b885d2f7e7.jpg https://quickbooks.intuit.com/r/marketing/9-sales-tips-from-dale-carnegie/ Sales tips that every small business owner needs to know
Marketing

Sales tips that every small business owner needs to know

By Chris Scott November 22, 2013

As a small business owner, making sales is critical. However, finding the balance between “successful” and “annoying” can be challenging, especially if you don’t have much experience working in sales. HubSpot research shows that 50% of prospects found sales people pushy, while only 17% of salespeople thought they were pushy.

If you feel your sales skills are hindering your small business’s development, don’t be afraid. We’re going to provide you with sales tips that you and your sales team can use. Implementing these tips will help improve your sales technique, increasing the likelihood of converting leads to sales. We’ve broken sales tips down into various stages of the sales process so you can hone in on the areas where you most need to improve.

Sales tips for cold calling

Contrary to popular belief, cold calling is not dead. The best sales professionals still use cold calling as a sales strategy to help move leads and prospects through the buying process. Cold calling is critical as it’s often the first time you have the chance to speak to leads about your product. Here’s how to make cold calling more successful.

Buy time

Statistics show that unsuccessful cold calls are about half as long as successful ones. When you have a lead on the phone, do what you can to keep the conversation going. As we detail in the prospecting section below, one of the best ways to do so is by asking open-ended questions that keep the prospect talking.

When you do talk, your goal should be to get the prospective buyer to listen to the next sentence. Although you want to keep the conversation going, you don’t want to waste words either. Think “quality” over “quantity.” Your words should be compelling, passionate, and genuine.

One sales training trick you can try is to pretend you receive $50 for every unnecessary word you remove from your cold calling script. How many words could you eliminate?

Be upfront about who you are

When you call a lead or prospect, you should be upfront about who you are. State both your full name and your company name. Stating your full name is essential because it commands respect and provides the appearance of credibility. Stating your company name does the same thing. It also gets some of the easy questions from the buyer out of the way and allows you to control the conversation.

For instance, imagine you start the conversation by saying, “My name is John” and then diving into your sales pitch. When you give the prospect a chance to ask a question, the first thing he or she is going to ask is, “Sorry, who were you with again?” The prospective customer didn’t even listen to your pitch — instead, the individual was just trying to figure out who you were. Now you’re on the defensive, and the customer is disinterested.

Smile

Smiling is an excellent way to make a good impression. And it’s something you can do in every business encounter — across the desk, at the customer’s front door, and even on the telephone. Believe it or not, smiling while you’re talking on the phone can make you sound more genuine, authentic, and likable.

Use names

Learn the names of your employees, your customers, and your prospects as they enter your sphere of business. After you learn those names, use them. Renowned salesperson Dale Carnegie once said, “A person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”

When cold calling, make sure you know who you’re speaking with. Referring to the person by name will again make you sound more genuine and compelling.

Be prepared to go off-script

Although you should have a script for cold-calling, you should also be ready to go off-script. Try to prepare ahead of time by outlining a few retorts that potential buyers could bring up.

Additionally, know that customers will likely want to talk pricing on the first call. As a salesperson, this should not be a part of your pitch. If it is, you risk coming off too sales-y. But you also need to make sure you tailor the conversation to the client and their agenda.

So even if you don’t intend for the conversation to go that way, know what you’re going to say if it does. Prepare yourself by coming up with answers to a few retorts or questions that clients may have regarding price. That way, if the client steers the conversation toward pricing, you can answer their questions instead of side-stepping them.

Sales tips for Prospecting

Your sales pipeline should consist of three primary individuals:

  1. Leads
  2. Prospects
  3. Customers

Prospects are potential customers who have already encountered your product and expressed an interest in it. Prospects are more likely to become potential customers than leads. Among salespeople, 40% say prospecting is the most challenging part of the sales process. Below are some tips you can use to boost your prospecting efforts.

Do your research

Before jumping on a sales call with a prospect, make sure you do your homework. Look into the prospect and try to figure out what problems they’re likely to be dealing with. This way, instead of giving a generic sales pitch, you can take time to address those problems and detail how your goods or services can help solve them.

If you’re unsure, you can ask questions while on the call. Asking the right questions can help open a prospect up so they’re more likely to tell you why they’re interested in your product. Some of the open-ended questions you can ask in your sales meeting include:

  • Could you tell me more about your business?
  • What are your goals for the next X months?
  • What’s holding your team back from reaching your goals?
  • May I ask you some questions about your company?

How can you, as a sales rep, know what customers need if you don’t give them a chance to tell you? All of these are open-ended questions that can get a prospect talking and explaining their pain points.

When the prospect is talking, make sure you listen to what they’re saying. Asking follow-up questions is an excellent way to demonstrate that you understand what the customer is saying and you’re curious about learning more. Then when you truly understand the customer’s problems, you can explain how your product can help them reach their goals.

When discussing your product, put it in terms that speak to your customers’ interests. You may have the biggest, fastest, and most reliable product on the market, but unless customers see how it benefits them, you won’t make sales.

Know your audience

Another thing to consider is who the decision-makers for the prospect are. Are you invested in Business to Consumer (B2C) or Business to Business (B2B) sales? If you’re in B2C sales, then you likely need to tailor closing techniques to meet the needs of one individual. But if you’re in B2B sales, then you may need to tailor the pitch to multiple people.

For instance, research now shows that there are 6.8 team members involved with the decision-making process for a B2B sale. So if you’re in B2B sales, you should assume that you’re pitching to a company, not a single individual.

Another part of knowing your audience is understanding what their inherent desire is. In his book Influencing Human Behavior, Harry A. Overstreet wrote “Action springs from what we fundamentally desire.” If you own a bait store, understand that customers do not desire nightcrawlers — they want to catch fish. Pitch accordingly.

Treat everyone with respect

Often, the person you’re pitching to isn’t the final decision-maker. This tends to frustrate many salespeople who feel their time is valuable. They believe they don’t have time to be pitch to someone who can’t make the final buying decision. However, you should treat every person with respect.

Imagine you’re pitching someone who isn’t the final decision-maker. If you find this out on the call and get angry or annoyed, the person will likely be offended. He or she may not even take the idea to the boss. But if you show respect and understanding, the person will be much more likely to go to the boss and explain why your good or service is useful, helping it get the final seal of approval.

Never dismiss someone based on their job title or perceived lack of authority. That person’s voice may carry much more weight than you think, and sales are all about building relationships.

Prospect consistently

The only way to be successful as a salesperson is to convert prospects into customers. To do so, you need to carve out time each day for prospecting. You should continually set up appointments — whether in-person, over the phone, or on a virtual video call — to meet with leads. Even on the last day of the quarter or the year, you should be prospecting.

Ways to revamp your sales process

As a small business owner, you’re tasked with many different responsibilities. However, you may not be an expert in every field. These tips can help you improve your sales process so that it takes up less of your valuable time.

Hire a sales manager

A good business owner is one who can acknowledge his or her deficiencies. If you don’t have experience with sales or don’t have the time to dedicate to running that department, consider hiring help. A sales manager with experience in the industry could be a wise investment. Sure, you’ll have to pay the individual a salary and benefits. But if the manager is any good, that investment will quickly pay for itself.

Automate your sales processes

Much like how you use accounting software to optimize your financial practices, you can also use software to streamline your sales efforts. Examples of software you can consider include:

Much as is the case with hiring a sales manager, investing in sales software can improve the efficiency of your sales efforts. From scheduling social media posts to sending out mass email campaigns, software allows you to accomplish more in a day than any one individual could.

Expand your knowledge

Sales processes are very fluid and rapidly changing. Sales team members need to always be looking for new ways to improve their processes and strategies. Consider bookmarkinging sales blogs that you can check in on for new ideas to bring back to your team and customers. Some of our favorite sales blogs include:

Remaining stagnant is an excellent way to lose customers to your competitors. In addition to reading sales blogs, you can also ask members in other industries what seems to be working well for them. If you consider that the most valuable sale is the next one, then you’ll find yourself much more successful.

The bottom line

The best transaction is one in which both parties benefit. You should try and convey this to prospects during your sales conversations. Demonstrate to prospects why they should buy from you. Detailing the value that your good or service provides is an excellent way to do so. But implementing the best sales tips above can help as well.

From streamlining and automating your sales cycle to learning how to communicate with prospects genuinely without being pushy, the sales tips here can help you increase business profits.

Chris Scott

Chris Scott is a digital marketing consultant and freelance writer. He enjoys writing about personal finance and saving. He graduated from the University of Maryland with a degree in Finance and currently resides in Boston, MA. Read more