The economy may finally showing signs of stabilizing, and the decline in certain sectors is slowing down, but we are not out of the woods yet. The ability to get a prospect’s attention and make the most out of every meeting and phone call is critical in a tough economy. If you refine your sales technique now, the good habits you develop will only help you in the long run, and yes, help you when the economy gets back up and running. Try the following tips to refine your sales technique, and hopefully, close more deals:

Heather Martin

Use Questions and Stop Talking: Most salespeople get into the trap of talking too much when nervous. Or, they talk too much because they believe that if they tell the prospective client everything about their product or service, something will strike a chord and lead to a sale. You may talk too much and still get a sale, but I can guarantee you have missed a sale by saying too much. You will find out a lot more about the prospect’s needs by listening to them. Based on the answer they provide to your question, you can qualify the prospect and determine if they may ever buy your services.

Do Your Homework and Call the Prospect First: Often people send out general, unsolicited inquiry letters that display very little knowledge of their prospective client, their company and their projects. Before every call, look at the client’s website and get a better idea of what they do and what projects they have worked on. Then come up with three to four questions of interest to ask the client when you call. I also suggest calling the prospect before sending literature. One phone call can save the time that is too often spent barking up the wrong tree, or in others words wasting time and energy sowing seeds in unfertile ground.

Know your Product or Service: New salespeople will start out knowing little about their company, product and service. If you are a new salesperson, don’t let that stop you. The best way to learn is by doing. However, whether a seasoned salesperson or new to the job, do make a concerted effort to learn more every day and become better versed in the technical aspects of your product. If needed, ask a technical person to provide you with assistance as needed to supplement your knowledge base as a salesperson. You may not be the most technical person on staff, but you should know the fundamentals. Not only will it make your life easier, but your clients will feel more confident dealing with you as an advisor (versus a “salesperson”), and you will build credibility by showing them that you know what you are talking about.

Be Responsive: If you want business – act like it. Here’s a scenario: A prospective client leaves a message for a salesperson, and then has to wait for the salesperson to return their call. If you are in town, make it a goal to return all calls within 24 hours or less. If you are on vacation, change your message and leave an alternate phone or person to contact in your absence. Often pricing takes us longer than we anticipate – let your client know that. Tell them you have not forgotten about their request and that you are interested in their business, but that you need a few more days to finalize a number.

Do What You Say You are Going to Do: This is self explanatory. Do what you say you are going to do, and watch your credibility grow, and your bottom line.

Be Overly Optimistic and Enthusiastic – No Matter What: Nothing is worse than a bored, pessimistic or bitter salesperson. Do yourself and your potential clients a favor and cultivate an attitude of complete optimism and enthusiasm. You should build the habit of always feeling grateful for what you have and for the opportunity to wake up every day and look for more business.

The above are pointers for how to make the most of your sales efforts. The golden rule definitely applies to selling. Ask yourself how you would want to be treated if someone were selling to you. Then, go forward confidently with refined sales skills and sell, sell, sell!

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