At some point in your sales career, you run into a brick wall.
It's easy to get into a sales rut. When that happens, it's time to adjust your sales tactics and get back to the basics when it comes to the psychology of selling, whether you sell direct to consumer (D2C) or involved in business to business (B2B) sales.
These techniques are the ticket to a more positive outlook the next time you’re in a rut.
At a glance: Sales techniques every great salesperson should know
- Tell a great story
- Put yourself in the buyer’s shoes
- Magnify their pain
- Handle top objections immediately
- Contact a lead immediately
- Keep contacting them
- Avoid calling mid-day, but go for mid-week
- Show your unique value
The 15 best sales techniques for closing your sales
If you aren’t practicing the sales techniques below, it’s pretty much a guarantee that your sales conversion rate is disappointing, so pay close attention to the sales tips below, and bookmark this to revisit it later:
1. Tell a great story
Your sales pitch needs to tell a story, with your client as the protagonist. A clear and convincing story that describes how you and the client partner up to tackle a major problem will help them wrap their head around your solution and make it easier to say "yes."
Pro tip: When you find a story that resonates, turn it into a template and plug future clients into it.
2. Put yourself in the buyer's shoes
The problem with many sales presentations is they focus way too much on your product and your company.
The buyer doesn’t care about all of that. You’ve got to put yourself in your customer’s shoes and ask yourself, “If I had my client’s problem, what do I want to hear from a salesperson? What would convince me to pull the trigger?”
Pro tip: Do a little role-playing with a colleague, and play the part of your client who is responding to questions on what matters to them and what product they’re looking for.
3. Magnify their pain
People don't buy anything without a clear and burning need for it — it can't be a "nice to have," it has to be a "need to have."
As a result, you need to magnify the pain you know your client is facing. Maybe it's thousands of dollars in lost revenues, or maybe it's hundreds of hours lost on slow equipment. Either way, the pain has to be acute, and you have to show you understand it.
Pro tip: Always translate a pain point into something that correlates with money lost for your client, whether that be actual revenues or something valuable such as employee efficiency.
4. Handle top objections immediately
If you've been selling this product long enough, you can probably immediately list the top objections your clients usually have.
The best way to handle these objections is to be proactive and address them early on in your presentation before they even come up.
Pro tip: Write down every objection you can think of and come up with an answer to each. Memorize them so you will be prepared if they do come up.
5. Contact a lead immediately
Much like red-hot iron plucked from the furnace, your leads grow colder by the minute, so as soon as you get one, you need to make contact.
Studies show that prospects contacted within the first few minutes are much more likely to convert than ones you waited hours to call.
Pro tip: Salespeople often have to get psyched up for a call, but this costs valuable time. Memorize one cold opening line and then just practice picking up the phone immediately when you come across a lead.
6. Keep contacting them
Too many people make a couple of attempts to contact a lead and then scratch them off the list. To be successful, you need to be a little more persistent than that.
A study by Velocify found that you should go for around six attempts to contact a lead.
Pro tip: When you finally get a difficult-to-reach lead on the phone, politely ask them at the end of the call as an aside when the best time to reach them is. Don’t forget a follow-up email.
7. Avoid calling mid-day, but go for mid-week
Timing is very important to sales.
A study by Lead Response Management found that the best time to call is in the early morning or late afternoon, which makes sense because your prospects are probably busy in the middle of the day.
As far as what day of the week, go for the middle, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Mondays aren't great for making calls, probably because people are trying to wrap their head around all they have going on. Research found that Tuesdays are bad, too.
Pro tip: Contact clients between 8a.m. and 9a.m., and again between 4p.m. and 5p.m. It's good to block off those hours each day for client calls.
8. Show your unique value
Yes, you have a solution, but so does your competition. What do you bring to the table that's different, or what extra benefit can you provide? If you don't find your unique value proposition, you'll just be another company on a list in the prospect's mind.
Pro tip: Brainstorm with colleagues to determine the one unique thing you bring that nobody else does, and feature that in every future pitch.
9. Be armed with a range of closes
When it comes to closing a sale, you've got to be like a top-flight NFL running back, pivoting and cutting back as objections come flying at you. If you have only one or two closes, you're going to get tackled behind the line of scrimmage.
Pro tip: Use CRM software to keep track of closing techniques you use and which are most successful. Choose the 10 most effective ones and use those almost exclusively going forward.
10. Show why things need to change
Even in scenarios where you have no competitors, in reality you do have competition: the status quo, or the way the client has always been doing things.
If you're selling a software solution and the prospect uses pencil and paper, you're competing against that tried-and-true process. So you need to do more than show the benefits of your software — you need to also show why the customer needs to ditch the old way of doing things.
Pro tip: Your client undoubtedly has frustrations about the way they currently do things, so spell that out at the top of your pitch.
11. Always be positive
Nobody wants to buy from a grouch.
A good salesman must exude positivity all the time, no matter the circumstances. You’ve got to believe you’ll make the sale, and that you and the client will be partners for a long time. Your customer can sense that, and it will make them more willing to trust you with their money, which is ultimately what you’re trying to accomplish.
Pro tip: Practice casually smiling. Look in a mirror as you rehearse a pitch, and make a note of times when you appear dull and uninterested and replace it with a smile.
12. Brush off missed sales
This is an offshoot of the “be positive” mantra, but it applies more to yourself. Even the best salespeople close less than half their sales, and in some industries a close rate in the single digits may be perfectly fine.
Some fish are going to wriggle off your hook, and you just have to shrug your shoulders and move on to the next one.
Pro tip: Do something simple like snapping a rubber band on your wrist to reset your mindset when you walk out of a failed sale. This is a tried and true technique to move on mentally from a setback.
13. The customer is right about everything
Never argue with your customer. Just don’t do it.
Whatever they say to you, no matter how wrong it is, you need to find some way to agree with them and then pivot toward why your product would still be the right choice.
For example, if a customer says something like, “improving my employees’ efficiency won’t help my business,” you should counter with something like: “You’re absolutely right, just boosting efficiency isn’t enough. You also have to channel that efficiency into something productive. And here’s how we do that.”
Pro tip: Leave your ego at the door. You don’t need to be right, you need to make a sale. Keep that perspective and respect whatever the client says. Remember: put yourself in their shoes.
14. Take your client by the hand
I don’t mean this literally, but too many salespeople are way too passive when making a sale.
A client expects you to tell them what to do next, whether that means starting a trial of your product or making a purchasing decision. A customer is always looking toward you for leadership, and the moment you abdicate that responsibility is the moment you lose a sale.
Pro tip: When there’s a lull in the conversation indicating the customer is waiting for the next step, quickly jump in to propose what the client should do next.
15. Be flexible
You should always be ready to shift price and terms depending on your customer’s needs.
If a customer tells you they can’t afford $12,000 per year for 50 employees to have access to your product, you need to have a proposal ready that, say, sets up a monthly payment plan, or drops the price and puts half the employees on a more basic subscription.
Pro tip: Consult with members of your team and determine what flexibility you have in pricing and terms.
Be prepared for your next sales pitch
As you can see, with a lot of these sales techniques, preparation is key, whether it means understanding your client’s needs or what kind of flexible terms and prices you can offer.
It’s a good idea to set aside a day to just work on many of these techniques and start preparing for your next sales pitch.
It will be a small time investment that will pay big dividends in boosting your closing rate.
The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends HubSpot and Salesforce.com. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.