According to a study conducted by Harvard Business Review, salespeople need two essential qualities to be successful: empathy and ego drive.
But how exactly can a sales professional sharpen these skills? Wouldn’t it be nice if the answers and tools we needed to skyrocket our success were hand-delivered to us with a bright shiny bow?
Even though experts narrow down the idea of how to be a good salesperson down into two simple skills, mastering these skills can be a complex and timely process.
Here is our guide to how to be a better salesperson in 2020.
In sales, there is so much emphasis put on what we want to say and the results we want to get, that it can be easy to forget that listening is one of the most critical parts of the sales process.
If you don’t listen to your customer’s needs, wants and what they are really saying, they will notice. Listening is what makes the difference between just another salesperson, and a professional colleague.
Listen to your customers, find a common interest, and have a genuine interest in them as a person. If the last time you spoke with them they mentioned that their child was sick, ask them how the family is doing. Listening helps you get to know a person, which helps build relationships and gets to a person’s core values.
People expect to find a wolf in sheep’s clothing in every salesperson, so show them something they don’t expect. In a profession dominated by facts and figures, it can be hard to remember that emotions are an important aspect of sales.
But 95% of purchasing decisions are emotional. So how you make a person feel is essential to maximizing sales and generating qualified leads. Emotional intelligence is also growing as dominant trait employers, professionals and people in general value in others.
Adding small habits to your routine to improve your empathy can go a long way. Consider reading about active listing and nonverbal communication. Or start practicing mindfulness habits that will help you be more present with others.
Every good salesperson knows that not every person likes to be approached the same way. Not every person is easily penned into a customer category, so know that successful sales will rely on your ability to adapt to the customer.
Mirroring can bring even the most unalike people into agreement. The key here is to let the customer’s behaviors and attitude lead the interaction.
People like people who are like them. As a salesperson, you want to be liked. A great way to make someone feel like you are “one of them” is to mirror them. Consider how the person is standing or sitting, what their tone is like, or other behaviors they engage in. Use this to set the tone for how you behave.
According to Chris Voss, a former FBI agent and the author of “Never Split the Difference,” using open-ended questions can subtly steer the conversation favorably while giving the person you are negotiating with a sense of control.
He notes that asking questions like “What about this works for you?” or “Does this look like something you would like?” Make the person you are negotiating with feel heard. It also provides a salesperson with valuable insights into a lead’s needs.
Once you listen to a client’s response, the next step is to follow-up with a question that shows you listened to them, and empathize with them. It’s also important that this question is positioned to have your lead agreeing with you.
Start your response with phrases like “It seems like,” “It sounds like,” and “It looks like” to lead a person to emotionally agree with you.
Ideas like vision boards and manifesting the reality you want through thought can seem a little far fetched, but there is some serious science that backs up the power of visualization.
Simply imagining things won’t close sales, but adding visualization techniques on top of a disciplined, focused lifestyle can enhance your ability to be successful. How exactly? There have been multiple scientific studies that prove its power.
Over time your brain struggles to tell the difference between real and imagined memories. Visualizing vivid scenarios of closing deals and success will start to pile up in your memory over consistent use.
Think of your mind like a garden that needs to be cared for. The weeds need to be picked out for fresh, colorful produce to grow. When you fill your mind with positive “memories” about success, you will indirectly build confidence and an improved mindset.
There are also studies that suggest that simply visualizing yourself with a skill, like reading body language or being more empathetic, can help you learn skills faster. Again, you’re biohacking your brain to believe it knows things that it technically doesn’t yet.
To really be successful at the tips mentioned in this blog so far, like executing calibrated questions and being an active listener, you’ve got to prepare. Winging sales meetings and hoping for the best doesn’t cut it.
If you’re preparing for a meeting of any kind, consider using note cards to map out the key points of your conversation. Seasoned negotiators won’t be an easy sell. Don’t underestimate the people you are dealing with.
Consider all of the possible responses to your questions a lead might have, both good and bad, and practice how you would respond. What you say is just as important as how you say it, and what you look like saying it. So practice in front of a mirror and out loud to yourself.
While the fundamentals of sales seem to hold true over time, demographics, best practices, and technology are always changing. Education doesn’t end at graduation for effective salespeople, it’s a lifelong commitment.
Consider making a commitment to attend at least one new sales training event or conference in 2020. Ask your company if they support career development and will cover the cost of attendance.
Investigate the most relevant certifications and training programs in the industry, and make time to undertake at least one in the new year.
Education can also be as simple as reading a new book and listening to a podcast. Make it a goal to listen to a sales podcast or YouTube channel every week.
Research the books that are disrupting how the industry operates and set a reading goal in the new year.
Think outside the box with continued sales education too. If you lack confidence and need help breaking the ice, join a local improv group to overcome your fears. Business etiquette classes can be beneficial for selling to different cultures and can help polish how you present yourself if you’ve recently been promoted and are dealing with a higher level of clientele.
Voice lessons can help dissipate bad speech habits and help you better articulate yourself. Investing in a stylist or a personal trainer can improve the way you present yourself, and how you feel about yourself.
Sales software is not optional for efficient pros in 2020. How to be a better salesperson is often made easier or more difficult based on the technology available to you.
Automation, multi-experience customer journeys, distributed cloud accessibility and having an empowered edge are essentials for sales professionals achieved through technology.
But could you really do more with less technology?
Sales technology has created more tools for lead generation, new customer experiences along their journey, improved sales enablement, and extra ways to connect. But between tools to manage leads, create presentations, optimize trade show experiences and digital marketing, the number of tools available can feel overwhelming.
Upgrading your technology to a single platform that “has it all” is a major pro move for 2020. Whatever technology platform you choose, become an expert at it. This will not only maximize your investment but taking the time to learn the software will enhance your overall sales strategy for how to be a better salesperson.
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