As promised, here’s part 2 for you. Missed part 1? No worries – read it here.
As Lyndon B. Johnson said, “You aren’t learning anything when you’re talking.” You need to make listening your primary objective during the sales conversation. I’m sure you’ve heard it before, but are you actually doing it? If you’re going to properly qualify (or disqualify) prospects and propose the best solution, you need to understand their greatest challenges. Do this by asking open-ended questions and actively listening to what they’re saying. And just like any conversation, a good way to process the information is to repeat back what you’ve heard — “It sounds like x, y, z is what you’re trying to accomplish. I’d love to help you with this — is this correct?”
In sales, timing can make all the difference between success and failure. Be aware of the best times to call leads, when to follow up, and when to back off. You need to stay on top of new leads and follow up in a timely manner. Inbound leads should be responded to in an hour or less after they’re generated. This makes it seven times more likely that you’ll actually reach the contact and qualify them. Aside from your own timing for perform certain tasks and activities, it’s also important to understand when the timing isn’t right for a prospect. Make sure that you don’t push prospects too hard if it clearly isn’t the best time for them to move forward with your solution. If you do, you may risk losing the sale.
Maintaining a sense of urgency ties in with the timing example above. Strike while leads are hot. The same study referenced above also found that for leads more than an hour old, the odds of connecting with the prospect decreases significantly. Think of it this way — depending on the source of the lead, a prospect is usually expecting a response from you.
According to the “Six Degrees of Separation” we’re all connected to everyone on the planet in just six steps. With that in mind, you should build your network and leverage it to increase your access to business contacts. Connect with people you know, and when it makes sense ask those in your network for introductions. There are a lot of opportunities for social selling across various social media platforms, but don’t start and stop at simply bulking up the number of connections or followers. For example, post your own content on LinkedIn, retweet your company’s content, share your thoughts and stories on Quora — make it a point to actually cultivate and engage in conversations.
Most successful sales reps are competitive by nature. They enjoy being recognized for their successes and, of course, want to be the best. Competing against team members is the obvious part. But you also need to compete against yourself. Set goals that are measurable, track your progress, reward yourself for successes, and always strive to be your personal best. When you reach your personal goals, set new ones. Keep reaching higher so you continue to grow and improve.
To become a top rep you should always be asking questions. Has a new feature been built? Glean the release notes your company publishes or ask the product team for clarification on feature details. Are you noticing that your fellow rep has a high connection rate? Listen to their conversations or ask if they’re experimenting with their pitch. It pays (figuratively and literally) to be curious, especially when it comes to being genuinely interested in a conversation with a prospect. Ask open-ended questions, then follow up with additional probing questions to learn more about their needs and concerns.
It isn’t enough to only know your company’s product in and out. Consumer behavior has changed — buyers are coming into the conversation armed with extensive knowledge of your competitors. If they’re in the market for a new solution, you can be sure they’ve done their own research or have already spoken with one of your competitors. Now, this doesn’t mean you need to have a full feature-by-feature comparison memorized, but you do need to know how your product stacks up against competitors. And to add credibility to your statements, leverage your company’s customer stories. The kind words of another (especially satisfied customers!) can forge the beginnings of a strong sales relationship.
You will never know everything, but being coachable means that you can learn almost anything. What does it take to be a coachable rep? You must be open to feedback, be an excellent listener, possess a willingness to learn, and be committed to making time to improve your skills. Don’t be defensive. Accept feedback, listen carefully to it, apply it, and take the time to continually work toward improvement. This will help you become a better rep and your manager will appreciate your efforts too.
And finally, here’s a bonus tip from one of our very own reps, Anna: “Don’t take rejection personally. It can be discouraging when you’re new to sales, but it happens to even top performers. You may talk with a prospect whose only goal is to get pricing information before you can even ask them about the problem they’re trying to solve. That’s perfectly fine! Give them the pricing information without a fight and find other ways to add value to the ongoing conversation afterwards. Follow up with relevant content via email, set the prospect up with a customer reference — the point is sales conversations are rarely one and done.”