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Your Company’s Success Depends on Your Sales Skills

Even if you delegate the sales function, these three tips will make you a great salesperson by proxy.

Heather Ripley

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Many years ago, I had the impression that selling wasn’t in my DNA. I didn’t understand at the time why I needed to care about sales since I wasn’t responsible for new business. Nor did I think I was good at it.

Related: 7 Psychological Strategies for Mastering Sales Negotiations

So imagine my surprise when an early mentor told me I was, in fact, very good at selling. He explained that when I was truly excited about something, and invested in it, I was the best advocate (and, as a result, best salesperson) you could find.

I also gained valuable sales techniques working for one of the largest home-service franchisors in the United States. Today, I advise other entrepreneurs on how to brush up their sales skills if they truly want to do more than just own their businesses. Even with the success of the Internet and ecommerce, business owners still have to be very good at sales to develop and grow a profitable business.

Now, here’s the problem: In an entrepreneurial business, often the person who developed it is not the one who ends up selling the concept, product or service.

Yet, if you’re the owner, leaving that selling task to others can be a mistake – especially early on – because customers want to know there is leadership behind the brand. They want to see that passion which the best salespeople have.

So, if you’re the owner and don’t want – or can’t – generate that kind of buzz, if promoting your business in more customer-friendly ways is a better fit, here are three sales tips any entrepreneur can use and pass on to his or her salespeople:

1. Listen

Listening is harder than it seems. Try to spend more time listening than talking. And instead of waiting (or interrupting) just to get your point across, let it go.

Don’t think about how you will respond, but rather tune into what is being said. Whether you are trying to sell a product, a service or your own brand, listening is an often overlooked sales tool. Every potential customer wants to be heard.

2. Solve a problem

A great salesperson solves a customer’s problem. It could be a small problem or a large problem, but finding out what that problem is and then offering a solution is a huge part of salesmanship. It also ties into tip number one – listening.

If you listen correctly, you’ll be able to read between the lines and find out what the real problem is. It could be something very different from what you think. But if you can solve it, you are the hero.

Related: The No 1 tip for getting lost sales back to your website

3. Meet or exceed customer expectations

Did you ever buy something from an individual or a business who not only met, but far exceeded, your expectations? Do you remember that experience? It felt really great and you probably told a few people about it too.

The Ritz-Carlton is known throughout the world for its Motto, Credo and 3 Steps of Service. The second step of service says that employees will provide: “Anticipation and fulfillment of each guest’s needs.”

The Ritz-Carlton brand is known for exceeding expectations, and every employee is empowered to do that, as an extension of the brand. So, in essence, each employee is a brand ambassador and an integral part of the company’s sales team. Adapt the Ritz standards as your own sales model.

You do not have to hard-sell for your business to get ahead. The Ritz-Carlton’s Gold Standard is a perfect example. The brand is passionate about providing the best possible service, so much so that selling the brand is a natural extension of its service.

Part of the brand’s success involves the three tips above. So, if you aren’t comfortable with high-pressure sales, you can still be a great salesperson for your business by following these tips and empowering your staff to do the same.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

Heather Ripley is the founder and CEO of Ripley PR in Maryville, Tenn., a national public relations agency specialising in companies involved in the building trades, franchising, health care IT, manufacturing and technology.

Techniques

10 Tips For Web Design That Drives Sales

If your website has a lot of traffic but few conversions, it’s time to figure out the problem.

Michael Georgiou

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Every business owner wants a website that encourages visitors to take the next step: buy or contact. This step is called conversion, and it’s the moment your lead converts to become a customer. If your website has a lot of traffic but few conversions, you need to identify why.

It’s true that many factors may contribute to the problem. Believe it or not, web design can have a powerful impact on buyers and their choices. Studies show product assessment takes about 90 seconds. Users grant websites a fraction of that time: Less than eight seconds. Those first impressions are about 94 percent design-related. What’s more, about 75 percent of users will judge your brand credibility based on your website design.

Most first-time visitors to your site are not ready to buy. They’re investigating options and comparing you to others. Do you know how you stack up to the competition? Take a look at websites for leaders in your market space. Then, turn your critical eye inward.

Here are 10 aspects to consider when evaluating your website design and deciding which changes will yield the greatest results.

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Techniques

5 Ways To Drive Leads And Double Your Profits

Data is the secret sauce to grow your business and dominate your marketplace.

Entrepreneur

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As a marketer, the right digital strategy can drive leads, increase profits, and eliminate the competition. But in a crowded marketplace, how do you cut through the noise?

Enter Joshua Harris, entrepreneur, master marketer, and member of The Oracles. His company, Agency Growth Secrets, teaches entrepreneurs how to grow highly profitable digital marketing agencies and win their clients unmatched results.

What’s the key ingredient to his secret sauce? The right data. “The data we use plugs into Facebook and Google, slashing the cost on these platforms by 25 percent to 75 percent,” shares Harris.

Here are five data-driven strategies that Harris uses to drive leads — and generate insane profits for his company and clients.

1. Eliminate non-buyers from your targeting

To get the biggest bang for your buck, eliminate non-buyers from targeting. “In Chet Holmes’ famed market pyramid, he showed that only three percent of people are ready to buy immediately. So, any money you spend on the remaining 97 percent of people is a waste,” Harris explains.

“Current ad platforms don’t have a way to eliminate these non-buyers, so marketers leave money on the table with the standard pay-per-click model,” he adds. Instead of using the “spray and pray” method of broadcasting your message to everyone, Harris recommends using precision targeting to identify people who are ready to get out their credit cards now.

“If you know who’s right for your offer, you don’t need to pay $10 to Google for a click. You can put your offer on The Google Display Network. You can send the prospect a postcard. There are multiple ways to reach someone when you know who they are.”

Related: For Vusi Thembekwayo, Focus Leads To Big Wins

2. Implement a closed-loop attribution tool

To prove your value proposition to marketing clients, show how your work has influenced sales. The right big data technology has the power to do just that.

“The platform we use shows metrics on a consumer’s browsing history, where they encountered our ad, and how that ad influenced them to buy,” Harris shares.

With closed-loop reporting, cookies and other tracking codes (such as UTM parameters) are used to flag a URL to identify specific visitors. These codes are then used to track where a visitor encounters your ad and how that interaction informs a sale.

What you can’t measure, you can’t manage. By using closed-loop reporting, you can measure success and manage your business.

3. Embrace people-based marketing

People-based marketing means being able to recognise the name of who you’re dealing with. “Website traffic is mostly anonymous and fraught with fraudsters and bots,” Harris cautions. “With people-based marketing, you track channels to ensure your ad or message is getting delivered to a real person.

“We track URLs, buy data from publishers, and use paid subscriptions to create profiles of our target customers. When we reach out, we know we’re communicating with an actual client.” If you want real results, you need to verify that each person you’re targeting is an actual person.

4. Predict a path-to-purchase

By analysing data correctly, marketers can predict who is going to do what next. “With our platform, we feed a hundred potential buyers into our system,” Harris explains. “Then we examine all the different online behaviours of prospective buyers before they purchase. Their searches leave a trail of breadcrumbs, and we connect the dots.”

When analysing data, Harris advises focusing on what signals potential customers give off before they buy. “If you put the pieces together, you can anticipate a client’s next move by their online behaviour before they do.”

Related: 5 Tips To Generate Sales Leads Through Social Media

5. Advertise across channels

Once you’ve targeted the right client, reach out across channels. “Instead of spending $1,000 on just Google AdWords, use content management software that works across mobile and desktop platforms,” Harris advises.

“Use Facebook, Google, YouTube, Pinterest, Display, direct mail, phone calls. The point is not only to use the best channel, but to use all channels. In other words, become omnipresent. If a prospective buyer sees you everywhere, they’re more likely to buy from you than an obscure competitor.”

Ultimately, with the right data tools, you can consolidate your marketplace and eliminate the competition. As Harris points out, “a competitive advantage is either operating cheaper or commanding a premium price. Our platform allows you to operate at a lower cost with your ads. Because your costs are lower and your frequency is higher, you can convince your customers that you have a better offering, set the buying criteria, and drive profitable sales.”

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Techniques

The 5 Best Actions You Can Take To Improve Sales Calls

Ditch your script. Record your calls. Analyse your patterns. There are new, non-conventional ways to approach calls. Have you tried them?

Anna Johansson

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We’ve all got a ton of digital tools to help us boost brand awareness, attract subscribers and followers and ultimately convince people that our brands have something to address their needs. However, closing the deal still usually depends on a one-on-one conversational interaction – or series of interactions – the traditional sales call.

Your top salespeople work tirelessly to track down leads generated by your marketing team. They reach out to previous customers to renew interest. And they work to convince interested buyers to finally take the plunge.

You can improve those close rates by: 1) asking your top performers to train your newcomers; or 2) sweetening the pot by offering more to your prospects in the first place.

But if you want to get even more out of your sales strategy, you’ll need to optimise your and your salespeople’s calls themselves. So, how, exactly, do you improve those calls?

Related: Have We Lost Our Face-To-Face Sales Ability?

Here are five ways:

1Ditch the script

First, let’s be clear: Sales scripts can be helpful. They’re a useful rubric for guiding the conversation in the direction you want to go, they’re a useful resource for training new candidates; and they’re a nice crutch for anyone who is shy or anxious about talking on the phone.

But there are two big problems with sales scripts on calls: First, they have a tendency to sound fake (especially if you’re using a template). Most customers can tell the difference between a sincere conversation and one that’s been over-rehearsed or pre-planned, and you’ll lose sales if you always sound insincere.

Second, scripts lock you into a single routine. It may be a decently effective routine, but you’ll never know if there’s something better out there.

2Record your calls

Have you ever experienced that phenomenon where the sound of your recorded voice is alien compared to what you’re used to hearing? This happens because of the vibrations we pick up in our own head, but it represents a bigger idea; we don’t know what we sound like until we listen.

Accordingly, your underperforming salespeople may be making critical mistakes they could pick out in an instant – if only they realised they existed. Start recording your sales calls, and make your sales staff listen both to their own calls and those of others. You’ll become collectively more acquainted with proper sales techniques, and be able to isolate some of the most egregious mistakes your people are making.

Related: Click-2-Call: Securing Sales By Retaining The Customer’s Attention

3Analyse your patterns

Unfortunately, there’s only so much the human mind can pick out in a single episode of listening of a sales call. That’s why artificial intelligence (AI)-powered speech recognition and analytics tools are starting to grow more popular. These tools automatically transcribe your sales calls, then analyse the text, looking for specific keywords that can tell you how the conversation is progressing, and where (for better or worse) the turning points are.

It’s an automated way to dissect how your sales calls develop, and a perfect tool for brainstorming new angles and tactics.

4Control your progress with goals

You should also make sure your progress remains steady and measurable by setting goals for your salespeople. These need to be both short-term and long-term, so your salespeople can see steady progress and feel motivated by their own efforts. Your goals also need to be both individual- and group-focused, so you can keep your team working together while still inspiring a bit of competition and individual improvement.

5Experiment and observe

Finally, don’t let yourself get too comfortable with any one set of tactics – even if your phone-call recordings guide you in that direction. Just because a strategy is good doesn’t mean it’s necessarily the best, so if you want to keep improving, you’ll want to experiment, sometimes with drastically different approaches.

Related: 8 Tips for Dominating Online Sales

Observe how these experiments develop, and scrap whatever doesn’t work. Inevitably, you’ll find something worth exploring.

A note on conventional tips

You’ll notice that I haven’t included any conventional tips to directly make your calls better, although there are plenty out there that seem to work. For example, there are no recommendations to start the call with a positive anecdote, or to make calls while standing and walking around to bring more energy to the meeting.

These can be helpful, but they’re short-term fixes, and they aren’t going to fix any glaring problems with your strategy. They’re also limited in how much value they can deliver.

Instead, the strategies listed, in contrast, are methodologies that can be applied indefinitely. They’re tools to help your team members learn and improve on their own. Accordingly, they won’t give you an instant boost in productivity or effectiveness, but they will yield the most powerful results – especially when applied over the course of months or even years.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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