10 Top Tips to be a Winning Salesperson (even if you’re not a salesperson!)

10 Top Tips to be a Winning Salesperson (even if you’re not a salesperson!)

Let’s face it, we’re all in sales in some way, shape or form. We’re all ambassadors for the businesses
we work for. We sell ourselves every day by way of coming over as friendly, and knowledgeable in
our fields and by recommending certain products or services. We all sell without knowing we’re
doing so. The recognition and leveraging of this, rather than it occurring subconsciously, could make a real
difference to the bottom line of every business. So, here are some tips and tricks, that you may
already employ but here’s how to make them work for you and make a difference.

1. Find, talk to and listen to the MAN

The MAN is not a sexist term. It’s an acronym for the person with the Money, Authority and Need. First things first, make sure you’re talking to the MAN otherwise, you’ll get to the end of your pitch and they then tell you they need to go away and speak to the decision-maker, for example. Sometimes it can’t be helped and that might be the right process for that business, but make sure you know who’s who from the outset.

So, you’re talking to the MAN. You need to uncover a need. What is the problem you are aiming to solve here? What pain points are you going to help with? This will be answered in a discovery session/fact find/initial chat (terms differ, of course, sector by sector). Remember, you have two ears and one mouth. I think we’re designed that way for a reason. Listening is key. In this first conversation, the ratio of questioning to listening should be around 20/80. The tables get turned when it comes around to proposing a solution. People love talking about their businesses. They get passionate. If you can show half this passion about what you’re hearing, you’re on the road to getting that sale. I’m lucky. I love listening to how businesses work, and what their products or services help with.
The diversity of businesses never ceases to amaze me. Prepare relevant questions in advance. Put yourself in the shoes of their business and do your research. This will impress the prospect. Make sure you listen to the answers intently. You may go off on a tangent from your initial questioning but no harm in that. I’ve been on calls where I have unearthed second and third businesses that needed digital marketing support and had I not asked the right questions, we would never have had those opportunities.

Why are you asking these questions? Don’t lose sight of your number one objective. You want to get a golden nugget of opportunity to do business together. If you get to the end of this and haven’t managed to unearth that, then they are probably not in the market for your product or service right now. But that’s not a no, not ever. It’s a no, not right now. So, it’s always important to make a good first impression as this person may need you in the future or could tell peers about your business.

2. Look for opportunities

Apparently, I’ve got a nose for this or so I’ve been told. They say I can smell the money. It’s a question of looking in the right places. This is very sector-specific so the best I can do is give you examples of looking for opportunities within digital marketing. We’re lucky enough to have some snazzy tools which tell us about search volumes, sector trends etc. If a particular sector is buoyant, I can run it through the tool and get some snappy stats to use when I call people within the sector.

I also look at seasonality. E-commerce in advance of Black Friday, for example. With marketing, though, we have to think well in advance of the actual season in order to prepare. So, we’d be looking at Christmas opportunities in September, for example. Keep your finger on the pulse with the latest business news. External commercial factors can very much dictate when it’s a good or bad time to call a prospect. If you subscribe to the Business Live website, you’ll get daily newsletters on commercial property, retail, law, finance, technology and manufacturing. It’s good to know what’s going on out there and knowing these things will very much steer you to who you approach.

General news will also inspire who you speak to. What is going on in politics and the mood of the country can point you in the right direction. During COVID, I was approaching signage companies, COVID test businesses, PPE businesses and home improvement companies. People were doing up their houses and home improvements saw a massive boom. Unfortunately, the bottom dropped out the following year, but that’s another story. As well as spotting opportunities, be mindful of who not to call. Believe it or not, in my last job, the desperation for money coming in meant that the powers that be asked me to call retailers to advertise that they were closed. Really? You may think I’m joking but I’m not! That was not a sensitive approach. Some may even say stupid.

3. Think of sales as helping people

People often think of sales as a dirty word. Visions of sleazy car salespeople and the like. I for one am proud of my profession and know the skill levels it takes to perfect. At the end of the day, every business sells something. That’s why they are in business. Don’t sell to people that don’t need your product and never lie – one of the golden rules of selling. Manage expectations and don’t oversell. Stick to these rules and selling is a win-win situation every time. All you are doing is helping people with a problem. Think about it. It’s simple as buying a pair of running shoes. You want to get fit and the shoes enable you to do so.

4. What qualities make up a great salesperson?

The words that will usually spring to mind are persuasiveness and enthusiasm. Of course, these are important. Showing a passion for your product or service is infectious to the buyer. And if the buyer is in two minds about whether to purchase and you know that the purchase will help them, then you will work hard to convince them that buying is the right decision. A few other qualities that I think are important are humility, honesty, empathy, authenticity, preparation, punctuality and don’t forget that smile! Most of us work in a business which is commoditised. Have we all really got a USP? In digital marketing, Anicca can say that they have the highest accreditations, lots of award wins, big brand clients, fab case studies and testimonials. But you can bet that all of our competitors are saying pretty much the same thing. The real USP is YOU! People buy from people, so it’s important to find common ground, make the person believe that they can work with you and build trust. Show real understanding of the client’s pain points, even repeating them back for confirmation that you have that understanding and nothing has been lost in translation. Lastly on this, remember, first impressions are so, so important. Be prepared, be on time, look the part and don’t forget to bring that winning smile.

5. Finding the Sweet Spot

Make sure you’re fishing in the right ponds. You’ve heard of the 80/20 rule, right? Most businesses spend 80% of their time servicing 20% of their clients. Concentrate on the 80% of your clients that take less servicing. Find more people like them. Data is king.

Look at your database and work out the sweet spot for you. Things you can look at are their turnover, number of employers, job titles of clients you have great relationships with, and clients that have been with you a long time. Find similar companies to these and know the companies to avoid too. Think about companies that you have things in common with. This could be from a corporate and social responsibility perspective or even that you keep bumping into them at different events like awards and networking. Look at the sectors where you have skills and knowledge. This means you can add more value to the client than approaching businesses in random sectors. Lastly, collate a list of potential hero clients. Make sure they tick all the boxes. That doesn’t necessarily mean going for the household name. In marketing especially, you can be knocking on those doors for years before you even get past the gatekeeper. The hero client requires so many touch points and, like SEO in marketing, you’re in it for the long haul. And don’t give up. You wrote them down for a reason. I’ve chased business for 5 years plus and believe me, when it comes off, the buzz is amazing!

6. Givers Gain

It’s just so easy to think about gaining new business first. Especially with KPIs and targets to hit. But this philosophy is based on giving, not gaining. When talking to a client about the wider business, listen out for things that they need or are planning where you can add value, not through your own business but perhaps from friends within your business networking. I’m forever doing e-introductions to put people in touch with one another for mutual benefit. Your prospect will trust that you would not recommend someone if they were going to make you look bad. And your business friend will appreciate the fact that you thought of them. They’ll remember this when they hear the term ‘digital marketing’ in conversation next time, for example. The more energy you have for giving, the more you are able to give. Giving more where you have strong relationships makes you able to practise this philosophy in a healthy way. Givers Gain is about taking off your bib and putting on an apron. It’s about building a relationship by helping others first.

7. Know your trade

‘Knowing your trade’ sounds one-dimensional, right? Do you have the necessary knowledge about your product/service? Well, it’s a bit more than that. Yes, have up-to-date knowledge but you also need to know about the latest trends, technologies, and best practices in the field. What are your competitors doing? How can you go a step further? Also, the needs of your customers may change and it’s good to make sure that your service or product is still providing the full solution they need and that they can’t get it better elsewhere. With an ever-changing digital landscape, knowing your trade is even more important in our business. Every member of staff has time put aside to make sure they are on top of their game and have their finger on the pulse. Life gets busy but if you don’t make time for this, the rug may be pulled from under you.

8. Handling objections

Handling objections refers to the process of addressing and resolving any concerns or objections that a customer or prospect may have about your product or service. This can involve identifying the underlying cause of the objection, addressing it directly, and providing a solution or alternative that meets the customer’s needs. Some common techniques for handling objections include active listening, acknowledging the objection, addressing the concern, and providing a benefit-focused solution. Two things to remember here. Firstly, if you have listened to the customer and solved their problem in the first place, explaining the solution fully, then perhaps the objection wouldn’t have arisen. So, it’s worth taking some time out to reflect at the end of each pitch to work out what you could have done better or differently so that you improve for the next time.

Secondly, it can be frustrating when a prospect has not bought into your product or service because you have such passion for it yourself. You must, at all costs, remain the consummate professional. Address the objection, get confirmation that you have answered the objection satisfactorily from the client and ask for the business again.

9. Realistic targets/KPIs

Realistic targets and KPIs are essential ways of measuring and evaluating the performance of your business or sales team. We talked about every member of staff being part of the sales team. There could be micro targets set, such as getting a lead or a testimonial. It gives employees something to strive for and gives a great sense of achievement once met. Targets breed higher motivation and job satisfaction.

Have you thought about incentivising your workforce for certain things they do that show their willingness to be an ambassador for your brand? Whether this is speaking at a conference, going to a networking meeting or asking for referrals. A word of warning! Be careful when setting targets that they are realistic. Use your data to work out what is right for the business and the individual. Your business’s number one asset is its people. If you over-target, this can lead to frustration, and demotivation and can lead to a false sense of progress. Ultimately, you could risk losing good people. Get buy-in and listen to the team’s point of view. If you yourself feel that you are unfairly targeted, have that conversation with your manager. Set out your stall in the beginning. It’s better than bringing it up at the end of a month when targets have been missed.

10. Advocacy

Believe me, your clients are your extended sales team. At the beginning of this article, you just had a small team in sales. Now you have your entire workforce and all your clients. Who knew? When people buy something, they reaffirm their buying decision by shouting about how great it is. Help them out. Ask for Google reviews, Trustpilot, and reviews.io. Ask for a testimonial, in time, you may also ask for a case study.

I used to work in health and fitness and it was easy to sign people up for a gym membership. The hard bit was keeping them there. Anicca have a fantastic retention rate. The results speak for themselves and we work hard to build great relationships with our clients. It’s so much easier to keep a client than replace them. Go above and beyond expectations to keep client satisfaction high. It’s then that you can ask for referrals too. You’re doing a great job for your client. Who do they know who can also benefit from your product or service? Would they mind introducing you? Referrals tend not to be forthcoming unless you ask for them. People have busy lives. But put the idea of referring into your clients’ minds and as long as you are doing a great job for them, they’ll think about how they can help you.

Social media is the new word of mouth. Post regularly to gain reactions, encourage shares and perhaps even incentivise referrals too.
Lastly, don’t forget to advocate for your clients too. Don’t forget, givers gain!

That’s it, folks! I hope this has been useful. And if you forget all of the above, don’t forget this; be yourself! There is no-one else like you. Being genuine equals winning. Now get out there, help people and prosper.


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