Selling should be part of every small-business owner’s job description. Whether you’re the sole salesperson at your business or managing a team, here are six tactics excellent salespeople may rely on to close the sale—and six little “tricks” to help make each tactic work for you.
1. Ask for the Next Step
Whether you're asking for an in-person meeting or for the close, an exceptional salesperson can likely move every interaction with the prospect forward. Don't end an interaction in defeat by admitting the prospect doesn’t want what you’re selling. Instead, consider proposing a step, however small, to continue the connection with the prospect, such as telling them you'll send them more information via email.
Trick: Don't ask for the sale; rather, you should assume it’s been made. For example, say, “What color would you prefer?” or “Which plan works best for you, the monthly or quarterly servicing?” By implying that the person has already decided to buy, you may be able to increase your chances of closing the sale.
2. Sweat the Details
Excellent salespeople are prepared for any eventuality. Although they seem spontaneous and unrehearsed, in reality, they don't “wing it.” Learn all you can about prospects before you engage with them. Thanks to social media and the Internet, there's likely no excuse for not gathering this type of intel. But don't limit your research to what you can find online; that's the lazy approach, and exceptional salespeople aren't lazy. Dig around by asking everyone you know and keeping your ears open for gossip, news and other insights.
Trick: When making sales presentations, you should expect the worst. Plan for everything that could go wrong, from a power outage to a computer crash, and be prepared with a backup plan for how you'll handle it. Spare cables, extra batteries and chargers, and presentation printouts can be your friends here.
3. Follow Up
Extraordinary salespeople know that selling to a customer once is no big deal; what matters is selling to him or her again and again. Ordinary salespeople forget about the customer after the sale. Extraordinary salespeople know that's when the relationship really begins. Always follow up after each sale to assess customer satisfaction, fix any problems and, most of all, establish yourself in their minds as an ally.
Trick: Follow-up can be a great opportunity to ask for referrals. Make sure the customer is satisfied with your products or services before you ask. Then try to get the customer's endorsement (“I'm going to tell him you suggested I call; is that OK?”). You may not only get the referral, but also align yourself with the customer as a partner in bringing great service to their contact.
4. Keep Learning
Excellent salespeople don't coast. They tend to always be learning new things about their companies, their industries, their target customers and, most of all, the art of sales. No matter how good you get at sales, don't assume you know it all. Read books, take courses and observe how other successful salespeople do it.
Trick: Do double duty by listening to podcasts or audiobooks while you’re commuting or exercising. You can likely learn something new without wasting any precious time that you could spend selling.
5. Give 110 Percent
Every exceptional salesperson I've ever met, listened to or read about has emphasized that the only way to the top is through hard work. Joe Girard, a former car salesperson honored by the Guinness Book of World Records as the greatest salesperson of all time, sent out thousands of greeting cards and handed out an average of 16,500 business cards per month during his prime. Exceptional salespeople tend to start early, leave late and make more cold calls than anyone else.
Trick: Use technology to automate some of the hard work. For example, CRM systems can set reminders, send triggered emails and schedule follow-up calls for you. Of course, exceptional salespeople don't use the time saved for a Netflix binge: They use it to sell more.
6. Never Interrupt a Prospect
It's human nature to jump in and finish others’ sentences or throw our thoughts into the mix. Excellent salespeople don't do this. By listening, they can spot openings that help them get to the next step with a prospect.
Trick: Get customers talking about themselves. Look for clues to their interests, hobbies and passions—whether in the form of a school tie, family photo or golf clubs in the corner of their office. Then ask them about it, sit back and listen.
Read more articles about marketing and sales.