Sales: Most Popular Articles
No matter what you're selling, every sale follows roughly the same pattern. It's a rare sale that doesn't include each of these steps in one form or another.
Most salespeople think of objections as a bad thing... but they're missing the big picture. If your prospect raises an objection, that's actually a good sign.
CRM, or customer relationship management, is the strategy that a company uses to keep its customers happy and loyal. A good CRM benefits both the company and its customers.
Every salesperson comes up with a unique approach to the sales process. These individual strategies are usually a version of one of these five basic sales approaches.
Anyone can learn to be a good salesperson by acquiring and honing a few basic sales skills. In fact, you'll find these skills helpful in many aspects of your life.
B2B is short for “business to business.” It indicates sales made to other businesses, rather than sales to individuals. The latter is referred to as “business to consumer” sales.
Sales managers are responsible for keeping their sales teams producing. Managing a sales team isn't easy, but it can be extremely satisfying for the right person.
Cold calling: the dreaded sales technique that can make even hardened salespeople shake in their shoes. In fact, cold calling doesn't have to be an ordeal. Here's how to cheerfully turn your cold leads into warm prospects.
Some of the best slogans of the past and present include a USP (unique selling proposition). Here are the best of the best and why they work so well.
The basic rules of how to sell never change, regardless of what product or service you're selling. Break these sales rules at your peril.
Asking your prospect a series of open-ended questions during your presentation can get your prospects to sell themselves. These examples will help you get started.
Sales is a numbers game. The more potential clients you reach, the more sales you will make. But this doesn't mean you can ignore quality in favor of quantity. Deploy a few basic strategies and you can make every sales call count!
Consultative selling describes a selling technique in which the salesperson acts as an expert consultant for his prospect, asking questions to determine the prospect's needs and then using that information to select the best product or service for those needs... ideally, the salesperson's own.
Lead generation is a critical part of the sales process. It's the first step in the sales cycle, so a shortage of leads will affect the entire process.
There are two types of training that fall under the umbrella of “sales training.” The first is teaching the mechanics of sales: how to go about selling in the general sense, with an emphasis perhaps on the sales techniques that work best for your industry. The second is company-specific training: details about your products and services, the sales process that your team is expected to use, tools and resources, etc.
Cold calling is still the most common method salespeople use to get in touch with new potential customers.
Here's a contract template that you can use to create a personalized service contract. It works well for any business that sells professional services.
Have you created a sales plan for yourself yet? If so, do you revise it on a regular basis? An up-to-date sales plan is one of the best tools a salesperson can have.
Saying “thank you” when someone does you a favor is just good manners. It's also incredibly important in sales because the first thing you must sell is yourself.
When you're hiring a new salesperson, a little due diligence on your part can help you to secure a highly-skilled team member. The candidate's answers to your interview questions are important, but they're only one possible source of information.
The most important step in the sales process is also one of the most neglected. I'm talking about the close, of course. Every salesperson should attempt to close every sale with no exceptions.
Not everyone on Earth is a prospect for your product or service. If you're pitching to people who truly don't need or can't buy what you have to sell, you're wasting your time. So take a few minutes to qualify your leads before launching into a full-bore sales presentation.
The most important step in the sales process is also one of the most neglected. I'm talking about the close, of course. Every salesperson should attempt to close every sale with no exceptions.
Active listening is a communication technique that increases understanding and rapport between speaker and listener.
Prospecting is the first step in the sales cycle. But that doesn’t mean that the first thing you should do is grab the yellow pages and start dialing. A little pre-prospecting work will help you come up with leads that are actually compatible with your product or service.
Do you want to be a better sales manager? No matter how good you are, there's probably room for improvement. Try sharpening the skills on this list and you may just go from good to great.
The first few words you utter during a cold call are by far the most important! If you have a good opening statement, you'll grip your prospect's attention and they'll actually ASK you to tell them more. If you don't, you'll get a lot of
A well-written phone script can help your cold calling efforts immensely. Cold calling is hard enough without being forced to ad-lib. By using a script you'll always have the right words on the tip of your tongue.
The customer testimonial is a powerful marketing tool. Here's a letter that you can send to new customers to request a testimonial from them.
Email can be a more powerful mode of communication than a phone call, especially if you run into a hitch during the sales process.
Is sales manager the career choice for you? Your potential challenges vary depending on whether you're now a salesperson or a manager in another field.
Sales meetings are not a salesperson's favorite part of the job. And many sales managers also consider sales meetings a necessary evil. Yet a well-planned and conducted sales meeting can have an amazingly positive effect on the sales team.
Want to put more life into your cold calling? Try these tricks.
Managing salespeople is not exactly easy. Here are a few strategies you can deploy to keep your sales team producing happily.
This referral request letter helps to prime the pump and (hopefully) create an ongoing source of warm leads. You can fill in the parenthesized words with your own information. Just don't neglect to kick regular thank-you notes and a few leads back to your helpful referrer!
Customer relationship management - or CRM - is a necessity for salespeople, and hundreds of options exist at many levels of complexity. For the new adopter, free crm applications are a good place to start.
Success in sales comes down to one thing: selling enough to make a profit. That's going to be every salesperson's and small business owner's goal. But there are two very different strategies you can pursue to get to that point.
Consultative selling is a popular sales technique because it's less aggressive and more client-centric than traditional
Not every sales team gets the same kind of compensation. Sometimes a salesperson is paid a flat salary regardless of his sales record. Other salespeople are paid only if they sell successfully.
Sales quotas are the goals set by each company to determine how much the sales team is expected to sell for a given period of time.
Know how to qualify prospects, and you'll save yourself a lot of time later in the sales cycle. These questions can help you turn leads into prospects.
Cold calling is a powerful prospecting tool, but it works much better if you avoid these common mistakes.
The #1 most common rookie salesperson mistake is trying to sell their product and close the prospect in a single cold call. When you pick up the phone and start cold calling, or walk into a neighborhood and start knocking on doors, the goal should almost always be to get an appointment with the decision maker.
A great strategy to get you out of your worst sales slumps.
If you want to retain your customers – and encourage them to refer more customers to you – you'll need to give them a reason to do so. And excellent customer service is a pretty good reason.
If someone asks you about your job, it's a golden opportunity to spin a sale out of thin air. A good elevator speech is the perfect sales tool for this situation.
CRM programs have been around for a long time, but many sales teams have been slow to adopt them. Maybe it's time to consider a few of the benefits.
Planning is an important part of selling well. Here are some plans every sales team needs to have in order to thrive.
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Anytime you make a presentation – whether it's to a prospective customer, the local Chamber of Commerce, or your CEO – you need to plan ahead and know what you're going to do. Just having a game plan and doing a little rehearsing beforehand will make your presentation easier.
You want to get a sales job (or get a better sales job). So you've been submitting applications and have finally gotten to the interview stage. Congratulations! Now the prep work begins.
Hiring a salesperson who isn't going to succeed is a waste of your time and theirs. Every manager will make a hiring mistake sooner or later, but by paying close attention during each stage of the process you can minimize these mistakes.
Are you thinking about setting up a business, but don't know what product or service to offer? It's time to take stock.
Cell phones in general are extremely useful for salespeople, who often spend a lot of time on the road and value being able to stay in touch. Smartphones take this convenience a step further by enabling you to have access to a wide range of useful tools and information.
Business Networking is a skill and a low cost method of marketing that is used to build new contacts through connecting with other like minded individuals.
Interviews are an opportunity to see how well a sales candidate can sell under pressure. Having a solid list of questions to ask your prospective salesperson will help you understand how he ticks.
Do you have what it takes to be a successful sales manager? The job requires a very specific skill set and qualities that are very different from the typical salespersons'.
Referrals – otherwise known as getting someone to give you warm leads to new prospects – are valuable for salespeople in all industries. Yet it's incredible how few salespeople actively canvass for referrals.
A gatekeeper is the person responsible for keeping a decision maker from being bothered by irrelevant callers.
Sales has borrowed heavily from social psychology to develop a few old but useful sales techniques. Do you ever use these approaches in your sales strategy?
Experienced salespeople will often joke, “Everyone's favorite radio station is WII-FM.”
Benefit statements are a simple way to tap into your prospect's emotions and sway them into buying. But without the proper groundwork, they're meaningless.
People like to feel comfortable. And they usually feel comfortable around other people who are like them. So it follows that, as a salesperson who is trying to build rapport with prospects, you'll want to match your word choice to your prospects.
If you're considering a career in sales, or if you've recently started your first sales job, you need to make a few preparations in order to keep your transition as smooth as possible.
A Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is a specific characteristic that makes one product, company or person stand out from the competition.
These closes are a bit trickier to apply than the basic or intermediate closes. They require more setup time or a willingness to push the prospect a little harder. But when used wisely, they can seal the deal with prospects who otherwise wouldn't buy from you.
Salespeople are most likely to be motivated by two things: money and recognition. The average salesperson is highly competitive, so having their triumphs recognized in front of their peers is really satisfying. And a nice cash bonus will always be welcome!
If you dread cold calling, then it may be extremely helpful to try one of the following approaches.
Pharmaceutical sales – aka pharma sales – is the business of selling drugs and pharmaceutical supplies to doctors and hospitals. The pharmaceutical industry is huge and growing ever larger, so there's an endlessly growing need for more pharmaceutical sales reps.
A sales process checklist helps salespeople to conduct each step in the sales cycle at the appropriate time. It also helps sales managers to find out where the process is breaking down for troubled salespeople.
The more planning you put into your cold calls, the easier and more successful they will be. Prior planning will take up some of your time, but once you've laid out your calling plan you will be amortizing that time with each call. It won't be long before your time investment pays off!
How many cold calls did you make last week? If you can’t answer that question with an exact number, you have a problem.
Increasing your total number of sales starts with increasing your total number of leads. That's because, as you've probably heard several times by now, sales is a numbers game – your success is directly based on how many prospects you talk to.
Salespeople must have top-notch communication skills to survive, let alone thrive. Rate your communication skills by asking yourself these questions.
Every sale goes through the same seven-stage cycle, from prospecting all the way through to asking for referrals from the new customer. But the length of this cycle can vary greatly depending on the product or service you're selling.
You probably know all about closing sales, but how good are you about closing cold calls? It's just as important to close your cold calls because prospects aren't likely to ask YOU for an appointment.
AIDA is an acronym developed in 1898 by advertising pioneer E. St. Elmo Lewis. It describes the steps that a prospective customer goes through before deciding to buy.
Hate leaving voicemail? These tips can help you leave voicemail messages that will have leads actually returning your call.
The best salespeople get the job done without relying on other people to nudge them along. If you want to be a great salesperson, you've got to learn how to motivate yourself.
Want to sell a lot of something quickly? The sales campaign is a great way to get a quick infusion of sales.
Once you've mastered the basic art of closing a sale, it's time to review some intermediate-level strategies. These closes aren't necessarily more difficult than the basic closing strategies, but they tend to be more complex.
Why not save a bit of your sales budget by picking up some lead lists for free? Your local public library probably subscribes to several business directories. You can get all the information you need just by picking up a library card.
Tracking your cold call attempts will help you to determine how well your calling strategy works and how many calls you need to fill your sales pipeline.
Picking out some short-term goals and planning how you'll achieve them can change your life significantly. Such goals are closer in time than your major goals and thus require less commitment to reach, yet they can be just as significant.
You'll have a much easier time competing with salespeople from other companies if you can show prospects how your product is different - and better - than theirs.
Buying signals are the way prospects tell you, consciously or not, that they're interested. Do you know how to spot the most common buying signals and how to respond?
Sales pitches are not one-size-fits-all. The right type of pitch will vary depending on your circumstances.
If you think of gatekeepers as cold calling obstacles or (worse) as opponents to outwit, you are missing the point. True, there are a few receptionists out there who delight in giving salespeople a hard time. But the vast majority of them will treat you much the same way as you treat them.
Selling yourself is the first step towards selling your product, so projecting the right image is a critical part of sales. How you look, sound and act affects how other people respond to you. If you want prospects to buy from you, you need to look the part.
Every sales team needs a good sales compensation program to guide and motivate them in their efforts. A bad sales compensation plan, on the other hand, is likely to motivate them to start looking for another job.
Cold calling doesn't have to be a painful experience. If you work to reduce the prospect's resistance, your cold calls will be far more pleasant for both parties.
Many salespeople fear cold calling, but they feel much more enthusiastic about warm calling. A warm call is simply a call to a warm lead - someone who already has a connection to the salesperson in some way.
As a sales manager, it's your job to keep your team producing. In fact, status quo isn't enough... most sales managers need their sales teams to do ever better, in order to keep their own bosses happy.
Professional business associations can be a great source of free sales leads and they can be found online. Find out how easy it is to get free sales leads from professional business associations and other industry or trade associations that are online to increase your sales and your business.
Good cold calling scripts are built along similar lines. It's up to the salesperson to flesh out that framework with individual details about herself and her products.
The precise definition of a 'lead' tends to vary somewhat. In fact, one of the biggest stumbling blocks between sales and marketing can be the definition of what counts as a lead and what doesn't.
Direct selling refers to sales that occur through independent sales representatives, usually not from a store but from the customer's own location.
Performance reviews are always tricky, and sales performance reviews can be some of the most difficult.
Sales requires persistence. Often your level of urgency is a lot greater than your prospects', and so you'll need to take the burden of following up with them to keep the sale moving to the close.
A sales training plan can help you save time and money, while providing the sales team with the skills they need to thrive.
The Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is a characteristic that makes your product or company different from any other. But before you can promote your USP you must figure out what it is.
Getting a sales team on board with a new sales strategy isn't easy. Here's a five-step plan to win a true buy-in from your salespeople.
Your state of mind has a major effect on your success in sales (or lack of it). Developing an emotional bond of sorts with your prospects is a huge part of selling. If you're feeling anxious or you're convinced you're going to fail, prospects will notice it no matter how hard you try to fake an upbeat mood.
The cold call opener is probably the most important part of your cold call. The opener determines whether a prospect will listen to what you have to say, or simply hang up.
Resolving objections without getting on your prospect's nerves can be tricky. Here are a few tips for handling objections in a non-confrontational way.
Just about everybody buys based on emotion and then uses reason to justify their decision after the fact. Even hardened professional buyers aren't immune to emotional selling.
Door-to-door sales usually doesn't work if you want to close a sale on the spot, but as a prospecting strategy it can be quite effective.
By the end of your sales pitch, how many of your prospects are still listening? If your presentation follows the typical pattern, where you open by talking about your company, move on to talking about your products and perhaps close with a story or two about yourself, the answer is “few to none.”
Even the best salespeople have the occasional “off” days. But when bad days turn into bad weeks or even months, you have a real problem. Weathering a long sales slump is tough but not impossible, if you take the time to prepare for it. And once you're in a slump, you can take action to get out of your slump ASAP.
Understanding your prospects' buying process is the key to success in sales, especially during tough times. You can then arrange your sales process to match the prospect's buying process.
Making a sales appointment is a thrilling feeling - but it won't do you much good unless you can convert that sales appointment into a sale. Here's a game plan for doing just that.
Keeping an eye on your sales pipeline can make you a lot of money. If you're aware of the pipeline, you will know how many sales you'll make during the period and can take action if you're short on your goals.
First impressions last a long time, so your first day on a new sales job is the most important one. Using these strategies will help you make the best possible impression on your new manager and fellow salespeople.
Are you an introvert or an extrovert? Most people think extroverts are natural salespeople, but in reality introverts have some unique advantages in a sales situation.
Many executives fail to understand the nature of a sales manager's role. Without meaning to, they place roadblocks that make the sales management job much tougher than it needs to be.
Are you making these common sales mistakes? No matter how good a salesperson you are, making one of these mistakes can destroy your chances of closing a sale.
Your customers know why they decided to buy from you (and why they almost didn't). That information can be incredibly useful for fine-tuning your sales process - all you have to do is ask for it.
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Do you know how to create a reasonably accurate forecast for your sales? If not, you're subjecting yourself to needless worry and uncertainty. Knowing how to forecast your sales helps you to predict what sales activities you need to pursue now.
If you're considering a move into pharmaceutical sales, try one of these sources.
Most products operate on a seasonal sales cycle that tends to peak at certain times of the year. Making the most of the busy season helps salespeople to prepare for the leaner times.
Salespeople need certain kinds of support to thrive. Just handing a salesperson a phone and a list of leads isn't enough.
If you build it, they will come. A good business network can get you sales from people you'd never be able to reach on your own.
In sales terminology, an objection is a concern the prospect has about buying your product.
Don't cringe when you finally get around to telling a prospect how much your product costs. After all, if it's a good product that will improve your prospect's life, it's worth the price.
Prospects won't buy from you unless they trust you enough to think that you're telling the truth about your product – namely, that the product will benefit them. Building rapport enables you to develop that level of trust between you and your prospects.
The stereotypical salesperson talks all the time. If that’s how you sell, you’re missing out on significant opportunities.
Sales that fall apart at the last minute are more frustrating even than the prospects who hang up on you. Cut down on your number of sales breakdowns by taking the following steps.
What sets the top-tier salespeople apart from the rest? Star salespeople tend to share a few traits that help them to accomplish far more than the average salesperson can.
When you're suffering through a sales slump, keeping your head above water is your primary concern. Try using some of these tips and you may find yourself setting sales records instead.
You can't actually create more hours in the day – everyone is stuck with the usual 24. But you can get more out of each hour.
You're not limiting yourself to your own customers when you ask for referrals, are you? It's time to think outside the customer box. There are plenty of other sources for great leads - just don't forget to send a thank-you card when one of your referrers comes through for you!
Negotiation skills are critical for salespeople, especially B2B salespeople who must work out deals with professional buyers. Knowing how to negotiate helps in other areas of life as well.
Some people just aren't cut out to be sales managers, no matter how great they were as salespeople. Here are some examples of sales managers you don't want to work for.
Telling a story is a time-honored way to sell, but not all salespeople are good storytellers. Here's a format that will help you to write a story that sells in just a few minutes.
When a decision maker seems to vanish in the middle of the sales process it's awfully aggravating. You've already sunk a fair amount of time getting him this far. Why give up now?
Prospecting for leads is the first step in filling up your sales pipeline. All the closing skills in the world won't help you if you can't set up those appointments in the first place. So knowing how to prospect wisely is crucial in sales.
There are plenty of objections that a prospect can throw at you over the course of the sales cycle. Every time you think you’ve heard them all and have the perfect responses prepared, your latest prospect will suddenly serve up a brand new objection and you’ll be left stuttering over your answer.
Your local Chamber of Commerce is an excellent resource. How can you turn down a combination of B2B networking opportunities and free leads?
Hate cold calling? You do have other options to generate those leads. You may not be able to completely stop cold calling, but you can at least reduce your phone time substantially.
Want to find a sales job? Or... want to find a better sales job? Here are some resources that will get you started.
Mirroring is a rapport-building technique in which one person adopts the physical and verbal behaviors of another.
A brand new salesperson or small business owner often struggles with an emotional reaction to the sales process. It's not an easy job at first because it requires a fairly assertive process to succeed.
Has your sales manager just shifted you to a new territory? Or perhaps you've started a new job with a different company and are facing a whole new group of prospects. Breaking into a new territory can be overwhelming but it's also a huge opportunity.
Many salespeople love the excitement, challenge, and loads of money they get in pure commissions jobs. Other salespeople dread the lack of certainty they face in such jobs. Minimize the dread and maximize the fun by taking a few precautions.
How many times have you walked into a presentation and cringed when you saw the presenter was setting up a projector? Beat the Powerpoint presentation stereotype by adopting these techniques.
Social proof is a psychological feature with powerful possibilities for salespeople. Use social proof to overcome prospect fears and encourage confidence.
Well-made products often cost more than their shoddier competition. Prospects know this, so selling a product that isn't the cheapest in your industry is a matter of demonstrating why your product is worth a little more.
If your prospect doesn't feel an urgent need for your product, she's not likely to buy from you. Creating urgency can be all you need to do to hurry a foot-dragging prospect through the sales process.
An elevator speech or elevator pitch is a brief (less than 30 second) explanation you give to someone you've just met.