What does it take to be an effective salesperson? Today, it's not about the hard sell. In fact, with what we now know about the factors that go into a customer's decision making, it's clear that a personalized, collaborative approach will produce the best results.
But despite this, the way we train sales professionals hasn't really changed in decades.
This means many people may still be relying on outdated thinking that no longer applies to today's more data-driven world. And the result of this is that every time you talk to a prospect, you're more likely to be putting them off than getting them on board.
So what can sales pros do to prevent this? The first step is to identify which techniques are no longer relevant and understand what you should be doing instead. Here are five key things to look for.
1. Leading with your product
It might seem counterintuitive, but pitching your product or service is unlikely to get results. In today's environment, where the answers to every question are just a couple of clicks away, potential buyers already know what your product is and what it does.
People increasingly don't buy into what you do, they buy into why you do it. Show them what drives the business and you'll stand a much better chance of success than if you're focused just on the product, which often makes for a very dry sales pitch.
2. Overselling the features
Focusing too much on specific features or functionality also isn't helpful. Customers don't know about every little thing the product or service offers. They just want to know what it does to solve their specific problem.
For instance, if they ask a question about something your product can't do, don't pivot the conversation back to what you want to talk about. There's nothing people hate more than feeling their issues are being ignored, so make sure you're listening and responding appropriately rather than plowing on with a rehearsed script.
Being able to persuade someone to close on a deal they're not certain about is the mark of a great salesperson, right? Wrong. Persuasion techniques remain very common in sales training, but often they can do more harm than good in the long term.
In today's environment, people shouldn't need persuading. By the time they talk to a salesperson, they’ll already often be more than halfway down the buying journey. If someone is skeptical about whether they even need your product, they're probably right. After all, they know their own needs better than you do.
4. Selling to everyone
If you have to work hard to persuade someone, it's a failure of the firm's lead generation, not your ability as a sales pro. It used to be said that the mark of a great salesperson is the ability to sell anything to anyone - but that's no longer the case, if indeed it ever was.
You should be focusing your efforts on people that need your services. That's why qualifying and disqualifying potential leads is essential. You need to be sure your customer is a good fit for your product to make a successful sale, so make sure you ask the right questions to determine how you can help solve their problems.
5. Faking it
While it's still important to be enthusiastic and passionate about your product or service, this has to be genuine. Buyers will easily be able to pick up the signs that you're insincere - for instance, suddenly talking more loudly and cheerily - and it immediately makes them less likely to buy into what you're saying.
Instead, it's vital you take a more conversational tone. Talk to prospects as you would a coworker, and drop the tired sales patter and smooth talking. Your customers have seen it all before, and all it will signal to them is that you're trying to hide something.