Selling is an art, no doubt about it. The best thing about it is that is doesn’t have to be a soft shoe, toe-tapping, verbally acrobatic performance. The true art of salesmanship is all about the customer and creating a relationship with them. That’s why we’ve collected 8 non-manipulative sales tactics that will blow your mind and help you sell faster.
The 8 Sales Tactics
Sales Tactic #1. Get your website ready to tell a story
We’ve all had this experience: a salesperson gives us a great pitch and we’re curious to learn more. We go to the website and find it full of features but slim on benefits. Prices are intentionally unavailable or hard to find, and there’s no personality or life to the site at all.
You want your website to reflect all the charm and personality that your talented salespeople have, and more. Know what your customers’ most frequently asked questions are and make sure they are answered up front and transparently.
Sharing a success story is always one of the best sales tactics without any doubt. If you can share a few customer stories and testimonials, that’s even better. Keep the stories short and impactful. Nobody today has the time or patience for those old-fashioned long form sales pitches. Keep in mind that people may be looking up your website on their mobile devices while they’re talking to you! Briefly describing your solutions will help keep your customer’s attention.
Make sure your website reflects and supports what you’re saying. If a layman could navigate your prospect through the website and answer questions in real time, then your website is finally clear enough.
Sales Tactic #2. Ask about the customer
The fastest way to a customer’s heart is asking them what they want.
Here’s the thing … if you tell the customer he or she has a need, they’re not going to love you for it. No one likes to be told they’re deficient. You want to ask the customer if they have a need. Let them voice their problem to you, then you can swoop in to the rescue. Listening is one of the most invaluable sales tactics we use. You can, of course, encourage them to talk to you by asking leading questions, like:
- What are your top issues with your workflow?
- What would you like to improve about your experience?
- Is there anything about your product/service/package that you wish was included but isn’t?
Ari Galper, writing for Monster.com’s SalesHQ says, “Stop the sales pitch. Start a conversation. When you call someone, never start out with a mini-presentation about yourself, your company, and what you have to offer. Instead, start with a conversational phrase that focuses on a specific problem that your product or service solves.”
Once the customer has voiced a problem or dissatisfaction, you can suggest a solution that your company offers.
Sales Tactic #3. Be ready to solve a problem
Problem solving is one of the major sales tactics that expert sales professional use to build valuable relationships. If your salespeople hear the same complaints or requests over and over again, there’s a niche market waiting for you to solve their problem. Matching a solution that your company already offers is a strong sales tactic to win new customers and referrals. It’s amazing how many companies, large and small, ignore these red flags and therefore miss a golden opportunity to bring on a whole new raft of clients.
If you don’t have an immediate solution, thank the customer for their suggestion and say that you’re going to take it to the next level and see if you can create a solution. This serves two purposes—you’re making the customer feel important and valuable, and you’re creating a reason to follow up and call them back.
Well-known sales coach Doug Dvorak says, “Surveys by groups such as InsideSales.com have shown clearly that the first sales person to contact clients is going to get 50 percent more of the prospects they contact first. This means that if you are first to suggest a solution to a problem for a company through your products and services, you are 50 percent more likely to get that sale.”
Sales Tactic #4. Have free material ready to send
An important part of your sales tactics is to come up with whitepapers and free materials that your prospects and customers can capitalize on. In the course of a sales conversation, you want to create as many avenues for future contact as possible. Most people are reluctant to sign up for a newsletter or email campaigns. We all get too much generic junk, so it’s likely that your lead will decline.
However, everyone loves something that serves a useful purpose and is free. Prepare a whole library of how-to articles and informational white papers on various topics. Break the topics down so each article is highly specific and detailed. When your client has voiced a need or question, casually mention that you happen to have an article on just that topic and offer to send it on. How-to articles that don’t hard sell your company are almost always appreciated. And if you mention that your company blog has regular how-to articles and helpful news, you may be able to convince the lead to sign up for the blog, and capture their email that way.
Your sales tactics should anticipate that customers will have different needs and will be at different spots in the decision process. A strong library of helpful information gives you the tools you need to reach out and create a connection with a prospect.
Sales Tactic #5. The concierge mindset
A new customer may ask you to jump through a few hoops during the sales process, but don’t resist it! The longer they communicate with you, the more opportunities you’ll have to make the sale. Just imagine that you’re a hotel concierge and that it’s your job to answer every question (or find an answer quickly), no matter how bizarre the request might be.
Being helpful during and immediately after the sales process helps convince prospects that your ongoing customer service will be just as excellent. If you ditch the prospect before answering their questions or helping them decide, they’re going to suspect that your customer service is equally non-existent.
Some customers may have trouble deciding if you offer too many options, but they’ll still want to feel that they’re the ones making a choice. After exploring their needs and wants, you can help them by saying, “It sounds to me like these two options would be best for you …” and then describe the options in such a way that one is clearly the best choice. But let the customer pull the trigger. You want your new customer to feel empowered and at the same time affirmed that they have made a great decision.
Once a customer or prospect has made up his mind, don’t prolong the visit with empty chatter. Solve a problem, answer a question, offer to send useful information—and then respect your prospect’s time.
Tamara Monosoff, CEO of MomInvented.com, suggests keeping it brief. “Many people succeed at getting consent or closing a sale. Then, feeling good, they open up a new line of discussion with their new friend, only to see the sale unravel.”
Sales Tactic #6. Work your social media
Social selling is one of the key sales tactics today! Whether you own a bakery or a technological superpower, making that sale—and getting return business—is all about creating a relationship with your customer.
Social media can be used to develop your brand and gain some recognition before you make your first sales approach. Dvorak points out, “As the seller, you have already built the brand recognition and positioned yourself as a resource for the buyer. In research completed by the Annuitas Group a nurtured lead, when making the first purchase, will make a 47 percent larger purchase than a client that was developed with a cold call.”
Blogs and social media accounts like Facebook and Twitter give you a chance to create a conversation with your customers. Basecamp even uses Twitter to answer customer service questions. Instead of the typical customer service email that reads “we have received your message and will respond to you within 2 days” the folks at Basecamp respond to tweets for help within seconds.
If you have a discussion forum, that’s another great way to keep your finger on the pulse of what your customers are talking about and what they’d like to see your company offer next.
Sales Tactic #7. Offer a loyalty program or surprise reward
Who doesn’t love a chance to get more for your money? People love loyalty programs and purchasing rewards. Nearly any program, product or service can be packaged so that people who subscribe regularly get better discounts and frequent rewards.
A loyalty program also encourages customers to try more of your wares, and to order online, which is essential for a product-based business, and important for many services as well.
Wineries make excellent use of this idea by offering wine clubs. Tourists may only have the chance to visit a winery once, but if they sign up for a wine club, they can receive excellent wines shipped regularly throughout the year, often at a very discounted price. For the winery, this means thousands of repeat sales with no money spent on hand-selling, tasting samples, and tasting room overhead. They just start opening case boxes and packing those orders. Wine shipments also bring in regularly scheduled infusions of cash. For instance, if a winery knows it’s sending out 700 3-packs of wine in April, it knows that after packaging and shipping, it will have $50,000 to take to the bank.
Make your banker happy and encourage regular return business by creating a subscription buying program.
Sales Tactic #8. Follow up for repeat sales
Following up a sale with another offer or a gift is a winning sales tactic. It may be a little too early to upsell the customer to a whole new level right after a sale, but you can certainly send out discount offers on related products, services, or accessories. If you are constantly missing out on following up with your customers for repeat sales, you’re actually lacking one of the most indispensable sales tactics important to your growth plan.
People get so excited when they receive their new widgets or service that, assuming they’re happy with their purchase, they will immediately want to buy some auxiliary offerings and accessories.
You should also send a query asking them for feedback on their experience so far. You can append another request encouraging them to join your blog, social media, and email lists.
John Barrows, sales trainer for Salesforce, Marketo, LinkedIn, and Zendesk offers this advice for following up after a sale: “People ask me all the time what I think the best way to follow up with a prospective client is … If you get off an intro call with a prospect and there seems to be a potential fit for your services but not in the near future, ask them how you can stay in touch with them, without being annoying, with the focus on adding value. Is there specific information that might interest them about the industry, their role, your solution, etc? Are there milestones they’re looking to reach and once they do, will they be ready to talk? Find out how you can add value to their world and don’t guess.”