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5 Ways to Sell Smarter, Not Harder

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In , your customers are your toughest critics. Wary that they may be charmed into purchasing snake oil, they immediately put up their guard and find any excuse not to spend their hard-earned money. But smart entrepreneurs and salespeople find ways to build rapport with potential customers and then demonstrate the value of their product or service.


To become more skilled at generating buy-in with prospects and consistently close sales, here are five tips to sell smarter.

Related: 6 Ways to Stop Selling and Get More Customers Buying

1. Explore their latent needs.

Customers do not always know how to articulate their needs. While they may say that they want to grow their fan base, their biggest priority may be to improve their organic reach.

Learn how to identify latent needs, and find opportunities to make users more successful at their job. With a deeper understanding of what your customers truly care about, you can spot the items that are real deal breakers and remove them from the conversation.

2. Ease concerns with case studies and testimonials.

Sometimes, clients have a hard time imagining how they may be able to apply a new process or technology to their . Although the value of your offering seems obvious to you, it may feel obscure to a customer. Consequently, buyers become skeptical.

"If you have doubts and concerns when you make a major purchase, it is safe to assume the same things happen with some of your prospects," says Nan Hruby of HNH Sales Training. To overcome buyer reservations, share stories or collateral that detail how your other clients have benefited from your product or service. Affirmation that other businesses use and extract value from your offerings make customers more open to change.

Similarly, if your client feels she is among peers, she will feel much more comfortable with agreeing to your proposal. Hruby knows, "Sometimes just showing the prospect a list of the companies or customers you've done work for in the past is enough to put the prospect's mind at ease."

Related: Be Like Eric Church. Focus on Your First Few Fanatics for a Big-Time Payoff.

3. Sell less.

When price is a primary concern, find ways to accommodate your customer's budget. Many times, a simple solution is reducing the quantity of work proposed to bring down your client's total cost.

Jim Herst, CEO of Perceptive Selling Initiative, Inc., recommends selling clients on smaller projects first to open up a window of opportunity later. Herst calls this a "foot-in-the-door" approach. By securing a small commitment upfront, you get a "yes" from clients now who will be more likely to sing the same tune when you pitch follow-up engagements.

4. Explain the consequences of inaction.

To motivate your customers to take a certain action, you must first explain what can happen when they fail to act. Because people are inclined to insure against negative consequences, you can strike an emotional chord by detailing what could happen if a customer does not follow through with your latest recommendation.

Threats companies may face include: competitive forces, lackluster sales, a steeper learning curve later and more. Businesses should know that if they reject your proposition now, they will spend more time and money later, cleaning up their mess.

5. Educate your customers.

Bring clients back to the middle of the sales funnel. If they are not yet ready to give you a confident "yes," spend more time educating customers about the value you offer. Avoid pushing a hard sell and use email and retargeting ads to share information and materials customers can review to help them reach a favorable decision about working with you. This approach allows them to progress through the sales funnel at their own pace.

Related: Why You Should Think Less About Sales and More About the Customer Experience

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