5 Tips to Master the Art of Sales and Get Your Business Ahead The most important thing to understand in sales is that it's not about you — it's about the customer. Use these five tips to make more sales and build more relationships.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Sales is an art. It's a delicate balance of persuasion, psychology and understanding of human nature. And like any art, it takes years of practice to perfect.
At the age of 16, I launched my first business. It was a pretty simple venture — a jewelry business where I was selling mostly in Camden Market in England. I noticed that the most successful stalls had the best salespeople. They were the ones who could talk to anyone, no matter who they were, and make a sale.
After starting my first finance job as a junior FX broker, I quickly began to see the importance of sales in every industry. In finance, my role was to essentially bring in new business and sell international payments. I began to study the art of sales and how to be a successful salesperson. This is something I've continued to do throughout my entrepreneurial journey, and it has resulted in the successful launch of two fintech consultancies, which I've scaled to seven figures in just three years.
Here are some sales techniques I use as an entrepreneur, which I hope will help you in your business journey.
1. Sales is 80% listening, 20% talking
The most important thing to understand in sales is that it's not about you — it's about the customer. It's all about understanding their needs and problems and presenting a solution that meets those needs. This can only be done by spending the majority of the conversation listening rather than talking.
The best salespeople are often the best listeners. They understand that in order to sell something, they need to first understand the customer and customize their pitch based on their needs.
Remember, people buy from people. They want to do business with someone they like, trust and can relate to. With this in mind, build a good rapport and always be authentic and genuine.
2. Open-ended questions are key
Open-ended questions are essential at the start of the sales process. They allow you to really get to know your customer and understand their needs. By asking open-ended questions, you can get the customer talking and find out information that you wouldn't be able to if you were just making small talk.
They generally start with who, what, when, where or why, for example:
- What does your current process for XYZ look like?
- What are some challenges you're currently experiencing within that side of the business?
- What improvements are you looking to make in your business?
You should be asking open-ended questions at the beginning of the sales process to help you gather information. They can also be used throughout the conversation to keep the customer talking and to get them to share more information. Closed-ended questions are typically used when you're ready to close the sale to gain commitment and take away any objections they may have.
3. Be mindful of the hammock effect
The hammock effect is when your listener's attention starts to wander, and they stop paying attention to what you're saying. Luckily, research has been able to tell us when this happens and how to prevent it.
In their book Conversations That Win the Complex Sales, Erik Peterson and Tim Riesterer stated that your listener's attention will be at around 70% at the beginning of your message, 20% in the middle and 100% at the end.
With this in mind, focus on the beginning and the end of your message and make sure that these parts are strong. Of course, this doesn't mean that the middle part of your message is unimportant. It just means that you need to spend more time making an impact at the beginning and end of your pitch.
4. Appeal to your buyer's emotions
A really effective way to sell your product is to appeal to your buyer's emotions. This is because people are more likely to make decisions based on their emotions than logic. In fact, neuroscientist Antonio Damasio studied people with damage in the part of the brain where emotions are generated. He found that most of the participants with this damage struggled to make decisions.
Some of the most common emotions that you can appeal to are fear, greed, and scarcity.
- Fear of loss: Missing out on a good deal or a limited-time offer can create a sense of urgency that compels people to buy your product. When you're selling your product, be sure to highlight the benefits of buying now and the potential losses that could be incurred by waiting.
- Greed: Also known as the Jones effect, people are often motivated by the desire to keep up with the people around them. If you can show your buyers that everyone else is buying your product, they'll be more likely to do so as well.
- Scarcity: When something is in short supply, people are often willing to pay a higher price for it. This is because they know that there's a chance that they won't be able to get their hands on the product if they wait. If you're selling a product that's in high demand, be sure to highlight the limited quantity that's available.
5. Follow up
About 80% of sales require five follow-up calls after the meeting. So, if you're not following up, you're leaving money on the table.
Unfortunately, 44% of salespeople give up after the first attempt. They assume that they'll get back to them if the customer is interested. But this is often not the case.
You need to be persistent in your follow-ups. It's important to remember that the sale doesn't happen until the money exchanges hands. If it's a hot lead, you might want to follow up within a few days. If it's a cold lead, you might want to give them a week or so before following up.
Schedule your follow-ups into your calendar, and make sure that you stick to your plan.
Sales are the lifeblood of any business. Without sales, there would be no revenue and no business. This is why it's so crucial for business owners to learn and improve their sales skills.
Remember, these are just a few of the many techniques that are available to you. The key is to experiment and find the ones that work best for you.