When we compliment salespeople, we often say things like: “He has the gift of gab” or “She is so persuasive.” Being talkative and persuasive are often treated as must-have skills for salespeople. But the truth is, these are totally outdated sales skills. In fact, you don’t even need them anymore.
Instead, it’s a much more nuanced selling world today. Instead of talking prospects’ ears off and pushing customers into buying more, you should be focusing on making real connections with your buying audience.
Here are the seven skills you absolutely must have in order to crush your sales goals in today’s selling market:
1. Be able to engage.
The old, go-to opener of, “I’d like to set up a call in order to learn more about your business,” isn’t going to engage your prospects anymore. They don’t want to set up a call to educate you—their goal isn’t to teach you. Although it’s a good idea to find out your prospects’ key business challenges, you have to engage them before you ask them to open up.
2. Be able to listen.
Instead of focusing on talking, let your prospects talk. And listen closely to what they have to say. Far too many salespeople are still making the mistake of getting distracted with thoughts of what they’ll say next. Meanwhile, their ideal prospects are right in front of them, sharing valuable information about what’s going on in their world—and they’re missing it all.
3. Be willing to hold your ground.
This is probably one of the least appreciated skills in sales, but it’s also one of the most important. Many salespeople believe that the customer or prospect is always right—but that’s just not true. In fact, prospects are wrong all the time. Even if they have an idea of what they want, they often don’t know what they actually need.
It’s your job to keep prospects focused and help them discover what they need. A great salesperson is willing to call out a prospect who is off-base. It may be intimidating at first, but this will only make prospects appreciate you more. They’ll recognize you as an expert and respect that you’re not afraid to risk a sale by holding your ground.
4. Be able to connect.
Building rapport isn’t enough anymore—prospects are more distrustful of salespeople than ever before. How do you overcome their skepticism? You have to learn how to actually connect with your prospects. If your prospects perceive you as someone similar to them and someone who truly understands their world and situation, they’ll be far more likely to trust you and want to do business with you. Now, that’s a true connection.
5. Be willing to disqualify.
On average, 50 percent of the prospects you come across won’t be a great fit for what you sell. Yet far too many salespeople try to persuade all prospects to do business with them anyway. Instead of focusing the conversation on how great your product or service is going to be, focus on discovering if it’s even a good fit in the first place. This approach is part of the perfect sales process.
6. Know how to present case studies.
Salespeople have been taught for over 100 years that the key to a successful presentation is plenty of enthusiasm. But when you rely on enthusiasm to carry your presentation, you sound indistinguishable from all of your competitors. Instead, present your solution in the form of a case study. Give specific and concrete examples of how you’ve solved clients’ challenges in the past. You’ll make your presentations seem far more engaging—and close far more sales.
Related: It's a Cold World for Cold Callers
7. Give three-option proposals.
Instead of offering just one option, offer three solutions to your prospects. They should range from something well within your prospect’s budget to well above it. If your top option has a lot of value, you’ll find that many prospects will push their budget to go for that option, helping you close a far bigger sale.
Which of these 7 skills are you going to strengthen in order to succeed in today’s market? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.