There are dozens of selling skills that a good salesperson should have. Here are three more that are vitally important.
1. Presentation skills. “Um, I’d like to, uh, discuss how our service can, um, help you, uh, reduce employee turnover.” Not a very compelling way to begin a sales presentation, is it? Yet, this type of opening is not uncommon. There are two aspects of presentations you need to consider: content and verbal presentation.
Content: Too many salespeople include far too much information in their presentations and open them by talking about their company instead of the buyers’ situations. Discuss only the aspects of your offering that are critical for your prospect to know.
Verbal presentation: Consider your pace, timing and delivery. The more important a potential sale is for you, the more critical it is that you rehearse. Watch your body language, gestures and facial expressions.
The best way to improve your presentation skills is to videotape a presentation and watch it afterward. It can be painful to watch yourself in action, but it is the most effective way to see how you actually deliver a presentation.
2. Rapport-building. Developing a connection is still important in today’s sales environment even though we rely heavily on technology. People still buy from people. Creating rapport with someone means making a connection. This does not mean that you talk about a photo on the desk or an award on the wall. That approach is severely outdated. Instead, you need to be able to speak your prospects’ language. You need to demonstrate that you understand the business problem they face. For example, if a client has experienced a significant decline in profit margins due to changes in the marketplace, you need to be able to talk about that problem—intelligently.
When you execute this properly, you not only develop rapport with your prospect, you also position yourself as an expert. You can also establish rapport by outlining the goal of your sales call, confirming the time that’s been allotted and then finishing early. No one will ever complain about a sales meeting finishing early.
3. Objection handling. Objections are a natural part of the sales process. However, how you respond to them can make or break a deal. First, it is essential that you outline the objections you hear most frequently. Then determine the most appropriate rebuttal.
Before you respond follow these three short steps: Empathize (verbally state that you understand, respect or appreciate the prospect’s concern. “Mr. Smith, I understand that you have budget issues to deal with.”); clarify (restate an objection back to the prospect in your own words to demonstrate that you clearly understand it. “So you see the value in this product, it’s just that the purchase exceeds the budget you had allotted, correct?”); and seek permission (ask the prospect for permission to offer a solution. “Mr. Smith, would it be OK if I took a minute to discuss a few options?”). Follow this process and you will find that most people will be more receptive to hearing your solution.
Selling in today’s hectic and complex business world requires tremendous effort and energy. It is highly competitive and stressful. However, you can improve your results and achieve a much higher return on your investment by developing and applying these essential sales skills.
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