Google “the best salesperson ever,” and you’ll meet some interesting people. From the legendary Joe Girard, who sold more than 13,000 Chevrolets at a local dealership, to David Ogilvy, the father of modern advertising, there’s no shortage of advertising legends. But what makes these salespeople stand out from the rest?
Unfortunately, there’s no one answer: there are several reasons that account for some salespeople making huge sales over and over again. In this article, we will share 11 successful sales tips that separate successful salespeople from the rest. Let’s dive in.
1. Know your product
There’s nothing as disastrous as a salesperson who doesn’t know their product. Salespeople do not just sell products; they sell expertise. If you can’t answer basic things about the product, you’ll come off as someone who’s just in it for the money and not genuinely interested in helping the customer. A solid grasp of the features, pricing, and limitations shows your expertise. The way you explain your product helps create confidence in the company and the salesperson. For instance, take a look at this testimonial from a customer of a website theme development company:
The client mentions the name of the person who helped them fix the problems. That is much more than selling your solution to customers. Sam here knows his stuff and is willing to support the customer post-purchase.
Asking for customers' feedback is one of the best ways to learn about the product or service you are selling. A majority of the salespeople overlook this step - If you never ask, you'll never know!
As a salesperson, you have to understand that customers generally don't take the time to review our products. We have to take the first step and ask for their feedback. When you get the feedback from people utilizing your offerings, you get to learn where you're lacking.
Another way to gain insights about your product is to research customer service queries. Customer service folks are dealing with product limitations. When you team up with the support team, you can discover the most irritating pain points. Hopefully, you can solve these issues. Regardless, those insights have value as you nurture a lead into a sale.
The more you know about your product, the better.
2. Know your customer
Knowing your product is half the battle. The other half — perhaps the most challenging half — is knowing your customer. Normally, you do this by creating a customer persona that provides insights about why they want your product or service, the outcome they are seeking, and the pain points they are facing.
Top salespeople know the value of a buyer persona and how it informs their choice of sales strategies. Thus, they never meet prospective clients without doing their homework.
An excellent buyer persona provides insights into the customer's behavior and what concerns are likely to arise during the sales journey. Take a look at this compelling buyer persona from VisualCreatives.
This example is practical because it captures the average prospective customer's goals, challenges, and back story. This information is crucial in designing a result-oriented sales strategy.
In addition to acquiring general insights into customer motivations, it's important to get specific insights about each lead. Depending on your product or service offering, you can do this by checking out their social media profiles or getting them to fill out a questionnaire before you meet.
A social media profile review can give you insights into a prospect's career journey, work roles, mutual connections, etc. Take the example above. You can use this information to break the ice!
3. Personalize your message
When it comes to sales, personalization is essential. According to Econsultancy, 93% of companies experience a hike in conversion rates when they adopt personalization.
Top salespeople know this, and they use personalization to great effect. Mary Kay Ash, the founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics, Inc, is famous for saying: “Pretend that every single person you meet has a sign around their neck that says make me feel important. Not only will you succeed in sales, but you will also succeed in life.”
Smart personalization makes prospects feel special. Effective personalization leaves you with the feeling that you are connecting with a person. For example, in a sales conversation, that will involve bringing up insights about a person based on the research you conducted.
Personalization should also be used for sales outreach. And when I say personalization, I don't just mean the first name and last name. Add an interesting point in the email that tells you have put enough effort into connecting with the prospect. For example, starting an email like this:
Congratulations on winning the Best Entrepreneur of Chicago Award. Amazing work on building a solid foundation.
This one line can separate your email from the 1000 emails Josh receives daily!
Of course, your personalization will fail if your spelling and grammar are wrong and make your message look false or insincere. Take the time to make sure your grammar is always correct whenever you're sending a personalized message.
4. Use a story
Stories have a way of evoking our emotions and imagination. Great salespeople know that all too well. A sales pitch without a good story may sound dry and uninspiring. A memorable, inspiring, and even light-hearted story has a way of connecting with a customer.
The payment processing company Square does a great job of using storytelling to drive interest and sales. The company launched the Dreams campaign, which featured the stories of people's entrepreneurial journeys. The campaign was so successful the company was awarded the Tribeca X Award.
The best sales storytelling involves sharing a story that the customer can relate to. That was the strength of Square's Dreams Campaign: they used stories of average customers who worked hard to improve their lives.
5. Use emerging technology
Technology has been a game-changer in all aspects of businesses – and it's no different in sales. The best dealmakers know how to leverage software and tools to generate leads, build relationships, improve response rates, and convert leads.
For instance, PaperStyle.com, a stationery and invite company, used marketing automation to create targeted emails to people planning a wedding. These targeted emails were sent to brides-to-be and friends and family of brides based on their activity on the company's website. The targeted campaign resulted in:
244% higher open rate than average.
330% increase in revenue per mailing.
161% increase in click rate.
Using technology and data can help you grow your business and optimize your workflow. If you want to be a top salesperson, embrace technology and always be on the lookout for new sales tools that can make you effective.
6. Practice empathy
In a Harvard Business Review post titled What Makes a Good Salesman, David Meyer and Herbert M. Greenberg observed that a good salesperson must be able to place themselves in a customer's shoes. Some salespeople have a sales pitch that sounds like a product feature list. That is a terrible way to sell. Take your time with your prospect; discover their concerns and challenges. Then explain how your solution can make a difference.
When making your sales pitch, note non-verbal cues in prospects such as a change in tone, facial expressions, and body language. Improvise your sales approach according to their reactions. Sometimes, empathy may not directly end in a sale, but it ultimately boosts the brand.
7. Know what your competitors are offering
The best salespeople understand that they operate in a competitive marketplace. Not only do they not ignore their competition, but they are also happy to compare what they have to offer against a competitor's offerings. An understanding of your competitive landscape helps you close a sale.
In an age where competitor products are a Google search away, your prospects are likely well-aware of their options. To pitch deck to such customers, you'd need to be well-prepared to answer questions about why your product is a better fit for their needs.
One fundamental model for analyzing competitiveness in your industry is Porter's Five Forces model. Developed in 1979 by Michael Porter of Harvard Business School, the model provides insights for a company to shape its strategy.
Competitive rivalry focuses on the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors. What’s their market share? Are they introducing new products or services?
The bargaining power of suppliers refers to the ability of suppliers to drive up prices of your products. In contrast, the bargaining power of buyers refers to the ability of clients to drive down costs. The model also considers how easy it is for customers to swap products with yours, referred to as the Threat of Substitutes.
Finally, the model considers the ease with which new competitors can enter the market, which is captioned as Threat of New Entrants. Aggregating all these five forces helps a company develop a comprehensive and competitive strategy.
8. Be honest about your product & its suitability
A good salesperson knows how to build relationships and, more importantly, trust. Honesty and integrity sell. Telling the truth about the limitations of your product can engender confidence in customers.
Focus on how your products address your clients' needs and be open about the limitations. Customers are typically wary of dishonest salespeople. If you can explain your product's functions with integrity, you are likely to earn their trust. An open and honest approach opens the doors to future sales.
Rand Fishkin, the founder of SparkToro, sends an email to their customers every time their account is charged. He states that they can cancel the subscription if SparkToro is not adding any value to their business! That's honesty!
9. Use social proof
Have you ever made a sales pitch that drew a blank stare? Many salespeople know that experience all too well. But there is one sales secret that almost always gives the client something to mull over: Social Proof. The more social proof and belief in the product or service, the higher the chance of a sale. There’s data to back that claim: 73% of consumers say positive customer reviews make them trust a business more. Encourage your customers to leave reviews and consistently post testimonials. Use these testimonials on your website and in your sales material.
As a sales professional, you should make the testimonial relevant to the customer. Take a hard look at their industry. Find an existing customer that has a similar background and share their success story in your sales pitch.
10. Sell the outcome, not the product
People generally don't buy a product for what it is, but instead for what it does. There's a subtle difference. That's why a salesperson should not be focused on selling the product. Instead, discuss the outcome.
instance, if you are selling a course, your sales pitch should hover around the course results. For example, 79% of people who completed the course received a salary raise from their employer within 12 months. When a customer starts to equate how their lives can be improved because of the product or service, they are more likely to purchase.
11. Follow up
The follow-up is an essential element of closing a sale. It can take multiple follow-ups to close a deal. Consider the stats below that highlight how 70% of salespeople using email outreach give up after the first email, yet it generally takes five emails to make a sale.
Trying to generate a sale is not a one-off event; it’s a process that takes time. Even after a sale, you need to follow up and find other ways to introduce new products through upselling or cross-selling. Following up helps you gain valuable customer feedback that can shape product design or the next sale. Additionally, it helps in building and maintaining a long-term relationship with clients.
Many have wondered what makes great salespeople stand out from the rest of the pack. Success in sales is, more often than not, the result of hard work rather than an innate ability.
In this article, we explored 11 successful sales tips that separate successful salespeople from the rest. Of course, this list is by no means exhaustive, but it details some of the key strategies to help you improve your sales conversion rate. They include knowing your product, knowing your customer, using stories, honestly, using social proof, selling outcomes instead of products, and consistent follow-up.
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Petra Odak is a Chief Marketing Officer at
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