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Covert Sales Skills 101 - Under The Radar Techniques That Close The Sale Every Time! - (Mastering Sales and Selling Series)

Author: Tony Jameson

Covert Sales Skills 101 - Under The Radar Techniques That Close The Sale Every Time! - (Mastering Sales and Selling Series)

Book Series: Sales Skills


The Art of Selling - what does that really mean? Why is it that some people appear to effortlessly close sales, reaching and surpassing their targets, while others just can’t seem to get there? Why do some sales people find life relatively easy, yet others struggle so hard to master the selling techniques needed to close a sale? Is it true that good sales people are born and cannot be made?

The following few pages will examine a few of the fears, the myths, the truths and the secret techniques that really can help anyone to become a killer sales person, with the ability to close a larger proportion of their sales, reach their targets and give a healthy boost to their bank balance.

Conquering Selling Fear and Coping with Rejection

The thought of selling, or to be more specific selling and cold calling is enough to put the fear of god into many an otherwise courageous soul. It’s not so much the idea of selling that is the big problem, but more likely the fear of being rejected. Some people just can’t seem to bounce back, after making call after call with a smile on their face and an undiminished enthusiasm for their offer / product / service or whatever it is they are selling, once they have encountered a few no’s.

Here are a few things to remember, which should help you to understand the way you feel and how to deal with it.

* Cold calling / selling is primarily a numbers game. So it stands to reason that the more numbers you ring, the more chances you have of making that sale. On the flip side of course, the more calls you make, the more rejection you will have to deal with. A great way to conquer this particular problem is to play the ratios game. Working out the probable sales ratios for your particular offer / product or service can help you to see the bigger picture. If your sales ratios are hitting target, it makes the “no’s” much easier to handle. Your particular sales ratio could be 10%, 5% or even 1%, which means that you’ll have to deal with a potential 99 rejections before hitting the jackpot, so if you hit the jackpot after only 85 calls you’re doing great.

* Remember, it’s not personal. Some sales people take rejection far too personally, which can be a great stumbling block. Remember that these potential clients are not rejecting you as a person; they are rejecting whatever it is you are trying to sell to them. This could be for a number of reasons that will be dealt with later. But just remember that it’s not a personal thing and it’s not because they don’t like you (hopefully, but that will be dealt with later too).

* Routines can help motivation. Set a target of say 20 calls in a half hour, starting from a specific time of the day. After you have reached this target, take a little time out to work on something else, take a coffee break or check emails for a minute or two. This will give you the space to get your act and your motivation back intact. If you have already worked out your potential sales ratio, it can be a real boost too.

* Keep track of your accomplishments. Success is a great motivator and one zinger sale can help a hundred rejections pale into insignificance. Keep a note of these to look back over when your motivation begins to wane a little. It really can help to give you a psychological boost.

* Talk to colleagues. It is important for all sales people to bounce ideas off each other from time to time, so do take the time to talk to colleagues about any fears you may have. This is especially important for anyone who is new to the world of sales; you may be surprised to find that the office “top achiever” started out with exactly the same fear of rejection that you feel now.

Learn About the Psychology of Selling

Learning about the psychology behind selling can be a great help, when it comes to breaking down the barriers that prevent some people from making the grade as a great sales person. Once a sales person has overcome their fear of selling and rejection, it’s a great idea to dabble a little in the psychological side of things.

The human being is a strange creature who can be difficult to understand, and no two people are the same. But having said that, they do all have some remarkable similarities when it comes to making, or not making a sale.

* People make these decisions based on their emotions - Their brains do not compute through some logical thought process like a computer; they are human beings. It is often the most intangible of benefits, which become the trump card when it comes to them making the final decision to buy, or not to buy, whatever you are trying to sell.

* People need to be able to justify their decisions - Just because someone has fallen in love with something, it doesn’t necessarily follow that they will rush out to buy it. They may need to be able to justify their decision based on a few hard facts. A man may fall instantly in love with an image of a sports car, but that doesn’t mean he will rush out and buy it. He is more likely to read some of the technical details in the manual to learn about the low maintenance, engine power and safety features. He may want a car that makes him feel great, but will only buy it when he can come up with some sort of rational justification for the purchase.

* People love value for money – “Value” is of course a relative term. The determined “value” of an offer is relative to whatever it is you are selling, what other companies charge for it, how much they usually pay for the product, how much they really want or need this product, and the way they perceive the difference in what you have and what your competitors have to offer. The buzzword is not the price; it is the perceived value of the product. The greater the value they perceive it to have, the more likely they are to buy it.

* Nobody can be forced into buying something - That really is not how it works. When someone buys something it is because they want to and not because the sales person has that person under his power. An over-bearing, even bullying approach may look like its working short term, but ultimately a person will only buy what they want to buy, and do whatever it is they want to do. The job of the sales person is to make them want to buy it in the first place.

* People love buying things - Honestly, it’s true. If a person says that they do not like to be “sold” something, they are kidding themselves. What they really mean is that they don’t want to feel tricked or cheated into buying or doing something. If you sell quality products or services with appealing offers, and are honest and up front with your potential customers, the sales will surely follow.

* People spend their lives searching for something more - Whether it’s love, glory, comfort, wealth, safety or something else, people are by nature generally dissatisfied with their lot and continually searching for something that can make it better. Showing that your product or service can fulfill their needs is a great way to future success.

* Never underestimate the power of a testimonial - People are pretty much like sheep and are more than happy to follow the crowd. If someone is unsure about whether a product will meet their needs, they are likely to look to their peers for a little guidance, which is why testimonials and case histories are very important sales tools to have at your disposal.

* Too many options spoil the sale - People can’t cope with too many choices or when there are too many options to deal with. They get quickly overloaded, and after trying to choose and make a decision between too many options, they will probably come to the same result - no. If you have multiple products to sell, try putting them into chunks or categories, that have no more than 5 options / categories. Too many options will generally result in a negative response.

* Many people are more affected by what they will lose than by what they will actually gain – This is a case of working harder to save a dollar than to earn one. Highlighting whatever the customer will lose by not taking your product / service will often work better than telling them what they will gain by signing on the dotted line. It may sound crazy but it really does work.

* You can’t please all the people all of the time - If someone categorically hates whatever it is you are selling and tells you so, then don’t waste any more valuable time or effort with them. By focusing on the people who are interested in your product, your sales will increase the most. Trying to convert a hater may make a sales person feel good, but is generally a waste of all that positive energy, which could be used on someone else.

Okay, this may just be a minute snippet into the intricate world of human psychology and selling, but remembering these few simple lessons can really make a difference when it comes to making sales. Using killer sales techniques, which take into account all of the above, is what helps to make them “killers”.

The Qualities and Skills of a Great Sales Person

Some people appear born to be great sales persons, but for others it is not nearly so easy. But just as sports people can train and learn the techniques to improve their game, and singers can train and learn the techniques to reach and hold the high notes, so sales people can train and learn the covert skills and techniques to improve their sales figures. In order to be a great sales person, one must first know the five most important qualities, which go to make a great sales person.

* Personality - Naturally talented sales people generally have pretty flamboyant personalities, but that in itself is not enough of a skill set. The best sales people find that all-important winning combination between flamboyance and professionalism. A successful sales person must have a professional demeanor alongside an outgoing personality, in order for clients to really build up a trust in them and their products. This combination can result in increased sales.

* Confidence - This topic has already been dealt with a little earlier in the section, along with the importance of bouncing back from rejection. A person’s self-confidence can soon take a hammering, if they are not able to deal with the inevitable rejections that go with a career in sales. Good sales people need self-confidence, so that the high pressures that go with the job do not have a negative effect on them. The sales person must have a deep belief and confidence in not only his own abilities, but also in the product, which he is selling. If a person should become de-motivated and over-critical of their own abilities, a slump in sales will soon follow.

* Motivation - The best sales people are great self-motivators, with a deep-rooted drive and determination to succeed. It can get pretty demoralizing to try to sell the same product over and over to a large number of clients, while retaining enough motivation. One covert sales technique here is to look at each new contact with the potential of building a long lasting professional relationship over the forthcoming years, rather than someone you will only ever speak to for the few minutes of your meeting or telephone call. This can give a good psychological boost to all sales people.

* Troubleshooting - However good a sales pitch or presentation, it will not answer all of the questions all of the time. Some clients may not be entirely happy with the presentation and need to know things of which the sales person is unaware. There may even be unforeseen things, which need to be solved right there and then, on the spot. The most successful sales people can deal with these situations, because they have clear, uncluttered minds, with the ability to instantly troubleshoot potential problems and troublesome questions. Make sure that you know your products upside down and inside out. Knowledge is power, and the more you genuinely know about your product, the more the client will trust your judgment.

* Follow-Ups - Successful sales people know and understand all about the importance of follow-ups. Not all clients will make up their minds on the spot during the first conversation, and not all of them will actually be in a position to do so. Perfecting the art of follow-ups, in such as way that you create trust and develop a relationship, can make a big difference to sales figures. All this really requires is dedication to the job, and a certain amount of discipline and organization.

Mastering the Art of Selling

Here are just a few of the sales skills and techniques, which can help a good sales person to become a great sales person. The personality of a good sales person has already been discussed so let’s just take things one-step further:

* Know what you’re selling - This is of vital importance; you must know and understand the product you are selling inside out and upside down - this simple but effective sales technique cannot be emphasized enough. A sales person who really knows his product will not be baffled or side-swiped by unconventional questions - really know and understand the product or service you are selling.

* Be confident in the product - This will be an automatic bi-product of knowing the product inside out. The more you know about the key aspects of the product, the more confidence you will have in it. This in turn will become apparent in your voice, body language and whole persona. Get this right, stay calm, and sales will surely soar to great heights.

* Take pride in the company and product - If you are not proud of the company and product, then why on earth should anyone part with their hard earned cash to buy into it? Take pride in your work, have pride in your appearance and in the service or product you are selling. It can become quite infectious, and the sales will start rolling in.

* Be warm and open - Don’t openly try to “sell” a product; people can become very suspicious of that. The best approach is to work on gaining the confidence of your clients and prospective clients. If the person really trusts you and believes that you have their best interests uppermost in your mind, (rather than making a hefty commission payment) they will be much more likely to buy the product. It’s all about having the right people skills. Really show the people who you are selling to, that you care about them and their needs, and not just the money in their pocket.

* Remember to keep a positive attitude all of the time - Some people will put down the telephone; some people will not look you in the eye and keep on walking; some people will slam a door closed in your face and some will curse at you. But just keep on smiling; brush yourself off and try again. You must have the positive attitude to believe that the next great sale is just around the corner, and pretty soon it will be.

* Ask open questions, which can’t have a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer - Start your questions with the famous five - who, what, where, when, how? Always asking open questions is a leading weapon in the arsenal of the most successful sales people. A vacuum cleaner sales person may say, “Don’t you want your home to be beautifully clean”? The answer is always going to be yes.

* Learn to listen - Too many sales people are far too keen on listening to their own voices, and don’t take the important step of shutting up and listening to what their potential clients are actually telling them. Stop, listen and search out clues. If you listen to exactly what the client says, you will get a clue as to how you can close the deal (that will be covered a little later). Listen to what the clients want, and sell them what they want - it’s about uncovering a need before solving the problem for them and ka-ching . . . another sale!

* Speak to the decision-makers - Focus your attention towards the person who will have (or who you think will have) the final decision. This does not mean that you should exclude others from the pitch, but always keep in mind who the final decision-maker will be, and pitch to their needs. It’s a real rookie mistake, and an extremely disheartening one, to spend a lot of time and effort on a killer sales pitch, only to discover later that you have been speaking to the receptionist, who will pass on the message to the manager for you.

*Be flexible and versatile - You should always be prepared to alter the content of your spiel to really capture the attention of the target audience. You may need to change the angle of approach from technical, to emotional, to personal, or a combination of them all.

* Complete your presentation before you ask clients if they have any questions - If you have a good sales pitch, you’ll probably answer most of the queries before you’ve finished anyhow. Keep your audience interested throughout the pitch by throwing in a few questions yourself . . . remember those open questions, which were discussed earlier.

* Have a good close - Learn to read the signs when the client is nearing the point of saying ‘yes’ and go in for the close. Remember that every sales person fails; it is the speed in which they recover and start to climb again, which really makes the difference. If you are knocked off your perch, simply get back on and start climbing, until you reach the ultimate goal - a sale.

This leads very nicely to the next and very important part of covert sales skills and techniques used by the experts.

Signs That a Sale Is Slipping Away and How to Save it

Being a great sales person is all about learning how to read the signs. Go in with a pitch and if it isn’t working, switch it around. Although the topic of the psychology of selling has already been covered, it is also true that what works for one client is likely not to work for another. That’s why it is important to learn how to read the signs that you are losing the interest of a client, and that a potential sale is slipping through your fingers.

* Indifference is bad - Any client who is really interested in your product should have plenty of questions to ask about it. If they don’t reject your products outright, but seem indifferent to them, then the writing is on the wall. That’s why it is important to build a relationship of trust with your client, so that you can become more than just a sales person; you can become their advisor.

* A firm decision deadline is a good thing - Without a deadline, these things can go on . . . and on . . . and on, until they ultimately fizzle and fade away. It is important to have some sort of urgency around the sale. Find out about any potential time frames with clients, early on in the process. If it is difficult to pin this down, then go in from another angle to find which buttons to press. You may need to point out what their competition is up to, or point out any financial risks associated if they don’t act quickly.

* If you can’t get to the chief decision-maker - Many companies will prefer you to sound out the initial ideas with a junior employee. He has the job of vetting all options before referring them to the decision makers. This may be okay in the beginning, but if you haven’t managed to reach the decision-maker after the first initial conversations; it is a sign that the company is not serious about your products. It can be very difficult to get past this roadblock, but not impossible, and the larger the organization, the more levels of management and under management you will have to negotiate. It is very important not to offend the junior member of staff in the beginning, but if you make sure that your presentation is something that can easily be relayed to the next management level, you will be in with a good chance.

* Prices too high - Any objections, which are aimed at the price of your product, will generally mean that your competition have something similar, with a lower price tag. If this is the problem, then it is important to focus on adding value to the product for your customer. Perhaps throw in some creative methods of payment for the first purchase. If you have a good product with excellent service, then the customer will keep on coming back for more.

* Requesting proposals before a meeting - Clients that ask for proposals, before they even agree to meet with you for a conversation, are probably just gathering quotes from a variety of vendors. One way to ensure that your proposal stands out from the crowd is to ask the client not only what they are looking for, but also the criteria they will use in order to come to a decision. If you simply submit a proposal, which is unsuccessful, you will not have the opportunity to find out why. If you come to some sort of verbal understanding first, then you will have a much greater chance of making the sale.

All of these are important warning signs for you that a potential sale may be slipping away, but here are a few covert sales techniques, which the experts use, to be sure that they capture, and keep the attention of their clients.

Catching and Keeping the Attention of Clients

Picture the scene - you are addressing a meeting with clients, making a proposal, which if successful, stands to earn a huge profit for your company but . . .. their attention appears to be drifting away. They are starting to look impatient and bored, fiddling with cell phones and generally losing interest. In short, your presentation is dying on its feet, and panic mode could quite easily set in.

What’s the problem with the presentation? you ask yourself. You’ve probably spent hours perfecting your sales pitch, have a terrific PowerPoint to back it up, and you just know that this product will be beneficial for both your company and theirs. It ultimately boils down to the fact that your presentation skills are not that great.

Here are a few covert skills and techniques, which will help you to capture their attention and their imagination, and they won’t even realize it’s happening. How can you encourage these clients to really listen to your proposals and give them serious consideration? It really is quite simple. Cast your mind back to your school days. Make the clients sit up straight. Isn’t that what your teachers used to say as they walked into the classroom? Sit up straight and pay attention - it really works.

Studies have shown that people who sit up straight to listen to a speaker will retain a larger proportion of that information, than those who slouch in a lazy fashion. They will also think more favorably about the speaker, and are more likely to agree with what they say.

So how do you encourage your clients to sit up straight, as they listen to your proposal? You certainly need something subtler than the old school teacher technique, that’s for sure.

* Posture - The importance of the posture of your client must not be understated, and this is relatively easy to achieve, if the meeting is to be held on your home turf. Choosing the correct office furniture can make a big difference. It may be tempting to purchase comfortable relaxing chairs for meeting rooms, but this will only encourage people to laze around and slouch. Choose office chairs that have straight backs, which allow you to speak directly to your client. You will be able to tell in an instant if you have his full attention, and it will also reduce any opportunity for him to become distracted.

The posture of a person has a big effect on their thinking processes, so use it to full advantage. If a client starts to slouch back in their chair, grab the flip chart or whatever else you are using for the presentation and place it directly to the front as you speak. The person will automatically sit up and lean slightly forwards. It’s a reflex action, which they won’t even know they are doing, but their attention will once again be focused on your sales pitch.

* Mirroring - This is another very effective covert sales technique, which is utilized by the experts, and is known as tracking. Start off by mirroring the body language of your client, and then slowly adjust your own posture to a more responsive, positive stance. If you do this the right way, then the client will subconsciously start to mirror your movements. This can shift his body and his attitude to be more open to your suggestions, and open the window for you to close the sale.

* Keep on point - Don’t waffle; don’t beat around the bush. Your clients are busy people with lots of other things to do. Get to the point, keep to the point, and resist the temptation to rattle on about nothing important. This will have the positive effect of keeping the meeting focused and active.

Try these covert skills when you next hold a sales presentation and you’ll be bound to notice the difference.

Successful and Painless Cold Calling

Few aspects of selling strike fear into the heart more than cold calling, which is hardly surprising. The name is a real turn-off before you’ve even started. The first major step is to stop calling cold calling ‘cold calling’ and change your mind set to ‘introductory calls’. After all, the purpose of the call is to introduce yourself, your product and your company to the sales prospect, and not necessarily to sell them something right there and then. Once you’ve achieved this mindset, it you will be much less fearful of picking up the phone and tapping in the number.

It is also important to remember that with this type of selling, it will take considerably longer before your efforts pay off. Think of it as an exciting challenge to market a completely new frontier, and you’ll be well on your way.

As with all aspects of selling, one of the best skills and techniques to emphasize for success is the importance of a plan. Fail to plan and you are planning to fail. This little snippet of wisdom is true of so many things in life, and cold introductory calling is just one of them.

Before you even pick up the telephone, you must follow these three important steps:

1 - Target your prospects carefully. You need to be sure that you target your potential market. It would be an absolute waste of everyone’s time for a pharmaceutical company to call the medical staff of a hospital, if all of the buying decisions are actually made by a third-party pharmacy. You need the right list of prospects in order to be successful.

List brokers can supply targeted lists, but if you are working from a more random source, then remember to open your call with a great introductory line like: “We are providers of pet grooming products. Is this service likely to be of a value to your customers?”

2 - Timing is extremely important. The right timing can be the ace up your sleeve. A company that sells financial services to up-market entrepreneurs and CEO’s can really benefit from knowing the timing of their corporate fiscal year. Some companies may be more open to investment within the month prior to their year-end. The importance of follow up calls has been discussed earlier; these can lay the right foundations for the sale, but making the killer call at the right time is definitely the way to go.

3 - Work from a script. You need to write down exactly what you will say, as well as any likely responses and how to deal with them. This won’t be something that you can follow to the letter, so don’t even be tempted. There’s nothing more off-putting than a sales person who makes a call and reads from a script, disregarding any questions, which have been put to them. It only helps to convince the person on the other end of the line that they are not entirely up to the job. Perfect your opening line and then you’ll learn to ‘wing it’ from there.

If you still break out in a cold sweat at the thought of picking up the phone and speaking to a complete stranger about your products and services, then here are a few more tips to help you overcome those fears:

* Prepare yourself mentally before every call. Take a minute to get into the right mindset and work on a friendly, warm telephone voice, being carefully to avoid the sugar coated “you sound so familiar, do I know you?” approach. Remember that you can ‘hear’ a smile, so remember to smile while you dial. It really can help.

* Practice makes perfect. If you feel very self-conscious about making this type of telephone call, just practice on yourself in the mirror. You will need a mirror, tape recorder, and notepad with your telephone scripts and a pen. Sit down and talk to yourself - how do you look? Do you appear to be relaxed? Do you have a rigid facial expression? If you look calm and relaxed, then your voice will come across that way. Tape yourself making an imaginary telephone call to a customer, then play it back and listen carefully to the conversation. Make notes about how you could improve the delivery of the call. Don’t worry too much if it all appears to be a little bit contrived and unnatural . . . it will get better with practice.

* Role-play the situation with a friend or colleague. Even a family member can help. If you do this with a friend / family member, then don’t forget to make the tape and run it back. Most adults, regardless of their job, lifestyle or sales experience will have encountered this type of call in their lives, and should be able to give you sound advice and feedback.

* Create the right atmosphere before making any calls. You may feel happy and relaxed when you are surrounded by photographs of your family; you may find motivational quotes useful, and how about a couple of testimonials you’ve received in the past, or some special music quietly playing in the background. Whatever inspires and motivates you personally - do that!

* Pay particular attention to the tone of your voice. It’s important to find the balance somewhere between sounding embarrassed and sheepish, to sounding downright arrogant - neither of which is good. The perfect balance is warm yet businesslike, interested and directly to the point. The technique favored by some of the most successful telephone sales people is opening the conversation with a question or a statement.

* Make yourself achievable goals, and then work hard to achieve them. Many telephone sales people swear by the ‘50 in 150’ method, which really means making 50 calls in only 150 minutes, allowing three minutes for each call. This should be plenty; you are not calling for a chat; you are far too busy for that (make sure that this comes across). You are on an important mission, so make the call, get to the point and then move on.

* Give yourself plenty of breaks. It can be difficult to muster the necessary motivation and freshness in your voice over long periods of time, so take a five minutes break after every 15 calls. Listen to a tune, grab a coffee or a snack, then after a quick pat on the back for your achievements so far, dive straight back in for another 15 calls.

Following these steps will lead the way to successful and (relatively) painless calling in the future.

Avoid These Common Selling Mistakes

Very often it’s not only useful to learn about how to make great sales and close more deals, it’s also important to be aware of what not to do. There are some surprisingly simple things, which an alarming number of even experienced sales professionals get wrong. Learn how to recognize and avoid these mistakes, and you’ll be one step ahead of the competition and climb the ladder of sales success.

* Assume that your fabulous sales presentation is all you need to seal the deal. The real trick is to help your prospective purchaser discover the reasons to buy whatever you are selling, and not just tell them that they should buy it. Each prospect should already be caught hook, line and sinker, before you ever get to the end of your killer sales pitch - if it’s a real killer.

* Don’t talk too much. Too many sales people assume that they need to keep on talking when they meet new prospects, when in reality they ought to shut up and listen before asking a few questions of the client. If anyone really wanted to know about the products and services you offer, they could visit your website. There’s so much more to it than that. Sales is about opening up a conversation, an open and honest conversation and taking it from there.

* Giving too much information. You are not in the business of educating your prospective clients; you are in the business of selling them a product or service. The real things you need to find out are the reasons and circumstances under which your prospective client will make the purchase from you. Find out the answers to these questions first, before sharing too much information about the specifics of your product. Sell your product today and there’ll be plenty of time to educate your clients tomorrow.

* Jumping to conclusions. This can be a real pitfall commonly seen in experienced sales people - they think that they’ve seen it all and become self-appointed mind readers. If a prospect gives you rather vague indications about what they want or need, then get some clarity from them instead of jumping to conclusions about what you think they mean. Jumping to conclusions can be a great big waste of time if you’ve jumped to the wrong ones - at best leading to lots of wasted time, and at worst leading to lost opportunities. What is it that they say, “If you assume, you make an ass out of both you and of me?”

* Believing everything a prospect tells you. This isn’t quite as underhanded as you might think, but never assume that the problem that the prospect has communicated to you is actually the real problem - because very often it isn’t. Sometimes these problems are nothing more than symptoms, which need to be diagnosed and addressed by an astute sales person. Ask plenty of questions to really discover the root of the problem, so you can solve the problem for them with whatever you are selling.

* Being so desperate to close the deal that you become an unpaid consultant. Many people will really pump you for information, which they ‘need’ before they can close the deal, but in all too many cases they are doing nothing more than using the sales person as an unpaid consultant. It is worth asking a prospect whether they envisage completing the deal after you have done the additional unpaid work, and if they can’t see that, then maybe it’s time to walk away and focus your attentions on someone else.

* Hoping that the prospect won’t spot a potential problem. Attack is certainly the best form of defense, and the best way to avoid potential disasters is to address them head on, before they get the chance to erupt. If a problem arises during the selling cycle, then be open about it, come clean and hold your hands in the air. This will help you to gain the respect of the prospect, and if they are interested in the product, they will work with you to help to resolve the problem.

* Not making decisions. There are at least two decision makers present at every sales pitch. The first is the prospect who will ultimately decide whether the product is right for them, and the other is the sales person who should be smart enough to decide whether continuing with the relationship is worth the time and effort involved. A great thing to remember, which is one of the sales skills employed by the experts, is that the shorter selling cycle you have, the greater number of leads you will be able to close over a given time. Knowing when you’re shooting into mid-air and it’s time to stop is a very valuable sales technique.

* Having the belief that you can sell anything to anybody. You’ve probably heard plenty of sayings like ‘he could sell ice to Eskimos’, but that is not necessarily so. Nobody will buy something just because you tell him or her to. Each prospect must pass through an era of self-discovery; prior to making the decision about whether the product or service you are selling is the right one to solve their particular problem. This has been touched upon earlier but is certainly worth a second mention. People are pre-programmed to resist and certainly don’t take well to being told what to buy or what to do. Instead of the ‘selling by telling’ technique, successful sales people ask the key questions, which allow the prospect to discover for themselves the advantages and benefits of the particular product or service. Once they’ve discovered this vital information for themselves, their resistance will melt away. Not many people are in the habit of arguing with something they’ve worked out for themselves.

* Not having a professional appearance. You only get one chance to make a first impression, so use it wisely. If you want a prospect to listen to what you have to say about your product or service, then you must be professional about it, which means both your appearance and your demeanor. Be smart, walk confidently and be enthusiastic. Your enthusiasm and conviction is a powerful selling technique that all sales people should make the most of.

* Choose your words carefully. Words create powerful images in the mind, some of them creating images, which are not necessarily beneficial to the success of a sales pitch. One such word is ‘contract’ - these sound like something that is legally bounding and can’t be gotten out of without a team of legal beagles, so avoid it (even if it is a legally binding document). A much softer and gentler approach would be to use ‘paperwork’, ‘form’ or simply ‘agreement’. They all boil down to the same thing, but the mental images are more positive for your needs.

* Not qualifying prospects properly. There’s a very good chance that a large majority of the people you speak to will not be good candidates for the product or service you have to sell, so remember to ask the relevant questions early in the conversation. If the person has neither the money nor the need for a particular product, then you’ll be wasting valuable time, which could be well spent on a better prospect. You should be able to figure it out in only three or perhaps four killer questions, at the start.

* Lack of closing skills. The art of selling is all about knowing how and when to close the deal. Sadly, all too many sales people are lacking in that department, but often a simple question can make the difference if someone is teetering on the edge. “If we have it in blue as you mentioned, would you prefer to take it with you now, or shall we ship it out to you?” . . . . “Will you make today’s purchase by credit card, debit card or cash?” Don’t worry; there are plenty more covert sales skills and techniques to come, about how and when to close a deal.

Online Sales Tricks to Boost Sales

Although everything so far has been aimed at the person-to-person world of sales, it is also worth mentioning the online sales tricks, which can be used to boost the sales for your company. This is after all, the fastest growing potential area for sales these days. Long gone are the days when a company could create a simple website and wait for the sales to start rolling in. These days there are a few tricks and techniques, which must be used in order to jump start this side of your business and reach your potential market.

* Social Media - Love it or hate it, social media is the key to a successful online sales campaign. Twitter and Facebook might be the pack leaders at the moment, but LinkedIn and Pinterest are hot on their heels. Many companies find that, paying a specialist to track the trends and behavior of these (and other) sites, enables them to use this media to the best advantage of their business. It’s basically about tailoring the communication of your brand in the best way, to boost sales.

* Upgrading Website - You may be very satisfied with the look of the website you designed a couple of years ago using one of the free platforms, but the truth is it will probably need to be upgraded. New integrations and technologies are exploding onto the marketplace daily, with a constant course of new methods of online advertising. Unless you or someone in your team is up to date with this ever changing technology, it may be worth hiring a professional to oversee your online marketing campaigns and help to boost the sales of your company.

* Emails – Email marketing is still an important weapon in the online sales arsenal; its power must never be under-estimated. Sending emails is a fabulous method of engaging the followers of your website and your customer base, allowing a company to send regular updates of their products and services, plus details of discounts, exclusive deals etc. It is important, however, not to bombard your customers’ inboxes with endless irrelevant content, or your emails will soon be filtered out as spam.

* Testimonials / Reviews - This has been briefly covered earlier, but testimonials are so important that they are definitely worth another go. Potential purchasers and users of your product will have questions to ask, and are increasingly interested in reading the reviews of previous clients, to see whether the product or service came up to scratch or didn’t quite meet the mark. This can also be vital information for your company to discover exactly what the plus points and drawbacks are for each particular product, and therefore give you the information you need for improvement. Upload pictures, photographs and reviews of each product for sale on the website.

* Search Engine Optimization - Your website, and therefore your online presence, will get nowhere without it. This is how your website will be found online, and the most effective methods and parameters are constantly changing. It is important for you, or someone within your organization to keep abreast of SEO trends, or to pay an expert who understands the use of the right keywords and analytics, to do it for you. Completing the right work at the back-end of your website can help it to jump up the rankings, and your sales will soar.

A fabulous/ all singing, all dancing website and social media marketing campaign is one of the most effective tools you can use to boost the sales of a company, which is really no secret at all.

Increasing Sales with Killer Closing Techniques

It doesn’t matter how hard you work to prospect and qualify customers, and tailor make your products to answer their problems. If you are weak at closing sales, it could all be a complete waste of time and the end of your career in sales. Some people are naturally good at closing sales whereas others have to study a little harder to learn the covert skills and techniques used by the experts. All it takes is a little time, patience, practice and trust in your own abilities that things will get better.

Business is tough these days and buyers are getting more cautious, which in turn makes the job of the sales person harder than ever. The ability to close a sale is vital for the success of any sales person and the company they work for. If you really want to smash those sales targets, you’ll have to have plenty of different closing techniques waiting in the wings. These techniques will help you to do three very important things: 1) alleviate any concerns the buyer may have, 2) speed up the whole sales process and 3) increase your and hence the company’s sales.

The Basics About Closing Sales

Closing a sale is really about reaching a commitment between the buyer and the sales person to sign an agreement (remember, try to avoid using the word ‘contract’, even if it is one) to formally move forward to the next stage of the proceedings. In order to close sales therefore, it is vital to gain some sort of commitment at every stage of the process, and use closing techniques throughout. The ability to close a sale is not reserved for the final signature on the dotted line. It is an ongoing procedure used throughout the sales process.

The objective of the sales person, therefore, is to successfully get the commitment of the buyer every step of the way, enabling the sales process to move through every stage of the deal, until the end is reached. One way that this can be accomplished is by asking the right questions. It really doesn’t matter whether you are selling a pair of shoes or a multi-million dollar production deal, the principles of selling and closing a sale are the same. The subject of open questions has already been mentioned, but is well worth revisiting, as this is an important part of closing a sale.

Using open questions, which cannot be answered with one word ‘yes’ or ‘no’ will encourage the prospective buyer to open up and give you the vital information, to help you build a picture of their wants and needs, and tailor the sales pitch to suit these needs. All of this information is a great help when you finally move in for the close. Using these questions, you can gradually:

Discover a little about the world of the prospect and their needs.

Each stage of the conversation should be started off using open questions and then gradually funneled towards more closed questions towards the end - always working towards the simple and all important ‘yes’. When you have reached this stage of the sales process, it is time to move in with one of these killer sales techniques to close the sale.

The Trial Close - This is a very popular and commonly used closing technique, which enables the sales person to check out the intent of the buyer every step of the way, making sure that things are staying on track for a sale. It not only helps you to check whether the product or service will meet the needs of the buyer, but also whether they are willing to spend the money and take the process forward to the next stage. It is also a useful way of clearing any objections, which may jeopardize the sale later down the line.

Here are a few trial close examples:

“Does everything we have discussed so far satisfy the desires and needs of your company?”

“So, if we can successfully overcome these objections before lunch, will you be able to sign the paperwork today?”

It’s all about testing the water to check that things are bobbing along in the right direction. Every time you get the ‘green light’, you are safe to move to the next stage of closing the sale.

The Pressure Close - This type of close isn’t favored by everyone, but nevertheless some very successful sales people use it with extremely good results. If, during the course of your conversation you have managed to create some compelling event, which successfully creates the pressure for your client to realize that they do have the need, as well as the desire for your particular solution, then you’re almost home and dry.

A few examples of the pressure close may be:

“In order for us to meet the regulations regarding sales calls and recordings, is it possible to agree that the contract be signed today to allow us to get on track and meet the deadline for the solution?”

“In order for your business to cope with all of the turbulent economic times that affect your industry, can we concur that the contract be signed today to prevent you from experiencing any internal pressures or external pains in the future?”

Skilled sales people can use this type of close in many different situations, although it often pays to mix it up a little with a trial close or two. A combination of the trial close and the pressure close is a very good place to start and practice, for any new or inexperienced sales people.

The Direct Close - This type of close should be saved, unless you are extremely confident that you’ve made the sale after having done heaps of groundwork and preparation. If you are full of confidence that the prospect has the desire to purchase your solution to their problems and you have a strong enough relationship, then you may feel confident enough to be direct and forthright with them and move in for the direct close.

Examples of a direct close include:

“Can I ask that you sign the order now?”

“Now that we’ve agreed on everything, can you sign the order now?”

However experienced you are, you should still be very wary of the direct close. Situations can easily be misinterpreted and your confidence could be seen as being a stereotypical pushy sales person, in which case all of your hard work will be wasted. The direct close should definitely be handled with care.

The Alternative Close - This can be a pretty powerful sales technique for closing a sale in which you get the feeling that the prospect may not be entirely satisfied with the solution on offer.

Some examples might be:

“Which one of the four solutions will work the best for your needs?”

“Shall we include the first option or the second option in the contract, before signing later today?”

Buyers like to feel that they have a choice (but not too many options, as was discussed earlier). The alternative close therefore provides those alternatives for them. These alternatives could be separate products, added value to a specific product, payment options or more.

The Negotiated Close - No matter how great your sales pitch and how well you’ve overcome all of their foreseeable objections, some people will still haggle to get the very last ounce from a deal. If you know or suspect that some of the objections that the prospect has raised are outside of your capabilities or the scope of the proposal, then the negotiated close can come in extremely handy. Rather than being evasive, these negotiated closes show that you have the enthusiasm to take the sale forward and help the buyer to overcome their concerns, which are, in reality, nothing more than hurdles that can be overcome.

Examples of a negotiated close may be:

“If you can agree to sign the contract now, it will enable us to start work in the morning and get the project on track. Are we agreed?”

“If we can get the contract signed today, it will enable us to work on the concerns you’ve mentioned first thing tomorrow. Is this something you can commit to now?”

The Assumptive Close - The assumptive close kind of speaks for itself. It simply means that the sales person acts as though they assume that the sale will go through, and is ready to go ahead to the next stage of proceedings and complete the sale. This is a very useful and successful method of closing a sale. It enables the sales person to shift the mindset of the prospect away from needs or desires, to the solutions, benefits and advantages they will enjoy once they have purchased the product.

Tread carefully with this type of closure. It is best kept for occasions when you have already received some sort of verbal acknowledgement or agreement from the prospect about the purchase, and are simply dotting the ‘I’s’ and crossing the ‘t’s’ to tie up any loose ends. Only use this closing technique if you are absolutely certain that the sale is in the bag, and the buyer is fully committed to moving along to the next stage of the process. You don’t want to seem pushy or over confident if the buyer is not fully ready to commit.

Some examples of the assumptive close may be:

“When shall we make the delivery for you?”

“I’ll make sure that the contract is with you today, so that you can sign and return it this afternoon. Is that alright?”

The last in this section of killer closing techniques is:

The Rebound Close - This type of close makes the most of any requests from the buyer, and uses them as an opportunity to gain some commitment to close the sale, or move to the next stage of the selling process. As with many covert sales skills and techniques, this is a reactive but also highly effective closing technique, which many experienced sales people have mastered. It really consists of switching things around quickly for their advantage, and potentially accelerating the whole selling process.

Examples of a rebound close may be something like:

Buyer – “When will the engineers be able to start and implement these solutions?”

Seller – “If you can sign the contract now, I will be able to schedule the engineering work for tomorrow morning, in order to keep to the timescales of the project.”

These are just a few examples of the killer closing techniques, which have been developed, tried and tested to great effect by many of the best sales people around. These truly are some of the covert skills and techniques, which all successful sales people need to master.

Remember that if people feel betrayed or tricked they will not ultimately buy from you, even if you feel that you are closing in on clinching a sale. Not only will these people not buy from you today, they won’t buy from you tomorrow either. Pay particular attention when you are dealing with experienced professional buyers. They’ve seen it all before and will spot any unsubtle techniques from a hundred yards.

The Mantra of the Successful Sales Person

Here it is in a nutshell; a few of the top tips, which successful sales people use to increase and maintain their superior sales records. Many of these topics have been touched upon already, but it never hurts to recap, now does it?

* Remember the psychology of selling, and use positive questions and answers as a basis for your sales pitch. Whether you are reaching out to prospects in person, over the telephone or in writing, try to train the customer to say ‘yes’ in answer to your questions, which is all about asking the right questions. In this way they will find it harder to be negative when it comes to the crunch and closing the deal. As an example - if you are in a store and a sales person asks if you are looking for something special, the chances are you’ll say ‘yes’, or why would you be in there in the first place? This is of course very courteous of the sales person, but also breaks the ice as they engage in interaction with you, and you’ve probably agreed with them. Bingo, job done.

* Timing is everything. This is of particular importance if you are cold calling or ‘introductory calling’, as it may also be called. You may find it hard to get past the reception desk or secretary, so if you time your call for early in the morning or late in the afternoon you are more likely to get through to the person who makes the decisions. There’s a very small window of opportunity available here, so don’t call too early or too late.

* Never make a promise that you will be unable to keep. However tempting it may be to promise the earth in order to close a sale, making promises that you can’t keep will come back and bite you, over and over again. If you promise to deliver a product at a certain time, then make sure that it is delivered earlier than promised, but never later. If something happens, which prevents you from meeting the deadline, then forewarn your customers about it: don’t wait until the deadline has passed. People appreciate truth and honesty and will respond favorably, both now and in the future.

* Over promising is bad, but over delivering is definitely a good thing and can help to secure sales in the future. If you haven’t already promised to throw in something extra in order to close the deal, then throw it in after it has been sealed. This is terrific psychology and a great way to win business in the future. If your company can possibly manage to deliver ahead of schedule, it’s another great psychological boost, which can help to secure future sales.

These are just some of the skills and techniques, which you can learn to help you become a master sales person, closing more sales, reaching more of your targets and earning more profits for your company. Being good at sales is definitely an art, even maybe a science. It is a combination of many different elements, some of which may be beyond your control, but you still need to be aware of the different facets of sales, and how to handle objections and turn them into positives to help your cause.

Practice these skills and you may be surprised at how much your sales figures grow.