Tactics constantly come and go in sales without making a significant impact on outcomes. On the other hand, solid strategies can make a significant difference in what happens. Here are 10 sales strategies that can have a positive influence on performance in 2015.
1. Define yourself clearly. Most people let others decide who they are, define their capabilities, and what they can accomplish. This happens without even knowing it. More often than not, the results are far from accurate. Worse yet, such “labels” stick, unless we work to change them by having a clear picture of how we want to be perceived and actively reinforce it. If being seen as thoughtful, helpful, hard working, cooperative, motivated and reliable is your preference, then the task is focusing on strengthening those qualities.
2. Be ready with answers to questions. Experienced salespeople have thoughtful and carefully crafted answers when customers ask questions. That’s good as far as it goes, but what about the questions that customers think about after a meeting? When they’re left unanswered, they can challenge credibility and raise doubts. This is why Frequently Asked Questions can help avoid problems. Make a list of those that come up time-and-again, along with your answers. Ask customer service people to help. Then, email your FAQs to a customer or prospect after a meeting. Also add a link to your FAQs to your email signature. It’s a good way to show you know what customers are thinking.
3. Rethink responsiveness. While responsiveness is a top business value, it’s usually related to “putting out fires.” Problems get immediate action. What about the other 99% of the time? Specifically, voice mail messages, emails, agreed-to deadlines — the list might be long. Failing to manage the details sends a powerful message; so does handling them.
4. Use the power of pause. Salespeople often talk their way out of sales. It doesn’t take talent, just an endless stream of words that confuse, frustrate, and antagonize customers, who can’t get a word in edgewise. Salespeople often act as if a lull in their sales spiel is so dangerous that it must be avoided at all cost. There’s a better way. Taking time to pause lets customers absorb what is being said, and suggests the person speaking is thinking about their choice of words. Pauses also encourage listening; it’s as if customers are waiting for what’s coming next.
5. Manage prospects effectively. The mismanagement of prospects creates the weakest link in the sales chain. Prospects are dropped too soon or disappear due to a lack of regular follow up. Like customers, prospects deserve good management: some change their minds, others aren’t ready to buy, and a number simply need encouragement. One salesperson gets referrals from a prospect that didn’t buy because of a health problem, but who felt the consistent follow up sent the right message.
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