Top 10 Sales Techniques
A post from our Sales blog
Written by John Boddington
When you're in sales, you know that even the best product on the planet won't sell if it doesn't come bundled with a solid pitch. You need to convince the consumer that you've got something worth considering – and that's not always easy. If you're just starting off as a salesperson or even for those who have a number of years under their belts, the following 10 sales techniques are sure-fire ways to crank up your conversions.
1. The scarcity effect
Perceived scarcity is perhaps one of the strongest sales techniques out there, which explains its prevalence and why it's been around for such a long time. Running limited item sales and telling customers there are ‘just two rooms left' in your hotel are just two ways in which you can implement this technique.
You're essentially manufacturing the idea that if they don't pull the trigger on the purchase, they run the risk that it will be gone forever. You can even combine this tactic with the puppy dog technique
, which works really well if your customer has a sense of doubt creeping in even if they love the product.
The puppy dog technique is essentially based on a ‘try before you buy' notion. If you sense that your customer loves the product but is still on the fence, let them take it for a test drive. This essentially turns the purchase into a complete no brainer, as there's little to no risk attached. You'll find that eventual refunds will be quite rare.
2. Hand out compliments
Flattery is an incredibly strong weapon when it comes to sales, even if it seems a tad obvious and perhaps almost transparent. Consumers are always looking for validation, even if it comes from the very person that's trying to sell them something. Even when they are fully aware that the flattery is manufactured, it still helps get you that sale.
Studies have shown that showering customers with compliments
work, period. Researchers at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology have found that flattery brings about a heightened feeling of positivity that seeps into the buying process. So even if you think your compliments are hollow, keep on dishing them out.
3. Hike prices up, offer heavy discounts
Never set the price to exactly the amount you're looking for, otherwise you're destined never to get it. The reason for this is that consumers are always sniffing for a good deal, which means that paying retail is often out of the question just on principle.
That's why your retail price should always be marked up. This not only gives your product the impression of being superior on cost alone, but it also offers the opportunity of giving people a ‘steal' by slashing prices for special sales. Give your customers the idea they're getting the deal of the century, even if you're getting the price you always wanted in the first place.
4. Give and take
Consumers will often feel a strong sense of obligation, even if the situation doesn't necessarily call for it. Think about it: how many times have you ended up buying a pair of jeans you never wanted, just because the salesperson went out of their way to find your size in the stock room? I'm pretty sure you've done something like this at least once.
Guilt and obligation are strong motivators in a consumer's buying process. The feeling of give and take is embedded into our culture, meaning that if you do something for your lead they'll often feel obliged to pay you back. And they do that by whipping out their credit cards and closing the deal.
5. Run a reward program (that's actually rewarding)
Customers like being rewarded for their loyalty. They want to know that if they put something into your company on a consistent basis, they'll get something in return for sticking with your products.
The best way to do this is by creating a customer reward program
– and we're not talking about a worthless offer where your customers get a tacky pen once they've spent hundreds of dollars. That's not going to reel anyone in. You're going to need to make it worthwhile, giving either free products or hefty discounts on future purchases. That's the kind of offer that's going to get people talking and signing up to what you've got on offer.
6. Use affiliate marketing
Imagine someone else doing all the selling for you. You don't have to lift a finger, just fulfil the orders as they come in and laugh all the way to the bank. And this isn't just some pipe dream – affiliate marketing makes it possible.
While some companies are scared of opening up their products and services to third parties, it's actually one of the easiest ways to bump up your sales without having to invest anything upfront. All you do is give affiliates a percentage of each sale and as long as it doesn't cut too deeply into your profit per unit, there's no reason not to go for it.
7. ‘And that's not all'
Some people will instantly think about infomercials with this one, but it doesn't quite have to be as cheesy as that. The subtle ‘and that's not all' technique is still incredibly effective.
The way it works is by telling the consumer about all of the great benefits your product has to offer, only to top it off with an incredible cherry that's hard to resist. Combined with the scarcity technique and setting a limited-time offer, the ‘and that's not all' method has a very high success rate.
8. Sell the benefits, not the product
When you try and sell your product or service to a potential client, don't just go into a spiel of features, specs, or anything else that's insular in nature. Your customers don't care about that. What they do care about is how you're going to help their business.
That's why it's so important to get to know your industry inside and out. Be able to explain how your company can save your clients money because of X and time due to Y. Focus on how convenient your product is and how it will ultimately positively affect the company's bottom line.
9. Focus on What Makes You Unique
No matter how incredible your product or service, it's highly likely that there's someone out there doing something very similar indeed. In fact, you'll often find at least a handful of businesses that overlap in at least 70% of what they're selling. The key is not to blow your own horn on the overlaps, but instead look to highlight the 30% that no one else has on the table.
Go over your unique selling point, your so-called value wedge. Focus on how you not only provide what every else does (to a higher standard no less), but that you also have several plus points that can't be found anywhere else.
10. Build Relationships
We've all heard the old adage that ‘sales is a numbers game' – and while we're not going to argue that point, there's a caveat you need to keep in mind. Just because conversion percentages will be low and you'll be making phone calls aplenty doesn't mean you should treat your leads in a throwaway manner.
The key to signing up a long-term customer is not focusing on the one-off sale, but rather to knead a relationship that will last
. Think about what the customer really needs and how you can help them achieve their goals, rather than how you can make a quick buck.
If you're just starting out with your sales career, don't expect ‘version 1' of your sales script to result in instant success. It's going to take plenty of work, loads of refining, and having patience. Tweak and improve as you go along, always analysing where you went wrong. Over time, the combination of these techniques alongside your experience will result in plenty of sales.