Achieving long-term success in sales goes far beyond riding the waves of a product that effectively caters to the market’s requirement.
The art of sales involves convincing your customer of the value of the product you are selling, and the value of the brand.
A decent salesperson should be able to communicate the value proposition for a product or service clearly and convincingly, such that buyers are sure about the purchase they are being asked to make.
What, then, separates the exceptional salesperson from the ordinary?
Is it a function of how good the product is?
Or does it transcend the product and focus on the tactics?
In this article, we take a look at the common practices that successful salespeople follow, and how we can imbibe them in our companies to drive up our productivity, reach out to more people and boost sales.
1. Know your customer – The foundation of your success as a sales representative is based on the time and effort you are willing to put in to understand the customer you are dealing with.
Homework is indeed important in sales. Even before a word is spoken, you must know everything about the customer.
This includes their personal bio, their buying history, tendencies exhibited in the past, requirement specifications and even likes and dislikes and previous brand associations.
Without this knowledge, you start off at a disadvantage because you are trying to understand what the customer wants as you are talking to them.
Having a clear understanding of the same before you start the call, however, allows you to fashion the conversation just the way you need to convince that particular customer, and make the sale.
This is how your performance goes up, and you start seeing success more often. You can assess where the pain points lies and model your pitch to suit those specific demands.
2. Develop your listening skills – Many agents, in a bid to push the product through, tend to try and dominate the conversation and talk as much as they can, so that they can cram in every little piece of information about the product.
This strategy almost never works, and very often damages the prospects of a sale.
The best salespeople are the best listeners.
They allow the customer to feel like they are in control, and let them voice their opinions and queries.
The salesperson simply directs the call by contributing intelligent, leading questions meant to convince the customer.
You do not have to describe features of the product, you only have to show the customer what value it would bring to them and why that is worth the money.
Customers appreciate their inputs being valued, rather than an agent who would prefer to talk over listening.
A good listener is also able to pick up on subtle indicators that reveal the psyche of the customer, such as tone changes or unspoken indications.
Understanding this non-verbal part of the communication also helps to direct the conversation better and increase the chances of success.
3. Approach with a problem-solving attitude – A positive attitude can work wonders in influencing the outcome of sales calls.
A call center agent cannot afford to see himself merely as a cog in the wheel, a mover of goods from the company to the customer.
Instead, he should take initiative to find the customer’s pain points and find the solution that is right for them.
People tend to trust those who are enthusiastic about solving their problems.
You might be having a gloomy day yourself, but if you let that negativity affect your work, chances are that customers will pick up on it and be repelled.
The best salesperson are able to show a positive outlook no matter what are the circumstances.
A caller could be asking a particularly difficult query, or complaining about a prior problem, or being unable to understand something fairly simple.
In any such scenario, one who approaches with a problem-solving frame of mind will create a much better than one who goes about their job mechanically, covering the bare essentials.
4. Remain persistent – In the marketing industry, persistence is the key. It takes time to build trust, and it takes time for the results of an action to show.
A salesperson going in for instant gratification will inevitably be disappointed with the practical scenario.
In a sales career, there are going to be good days and bad days.
There are going to be days when nothing seems to happen as you had planned.
The best salespeople do not let this negativity bring them down.
They keep on working, patiently waiting for their efforts to bear fruits.
Persistency shines through in converting a single customer as well.
It takes more than one call or one email to get in touch with decision makers who will actually buy your products in organizations.
The most successful employees are in it for the long haul and realize that they need to move step by step to have any meaningful effect.
5. Never lose your temper – In an industry that is based on interactions with customers, there are bound to be occasions where you are on a call with a frustrated buyer or an angry customer.
There might also be people who dislike being bothered by a sales call.
The customer on the other end of the line might behave rudely, might shout out in frustration or make insulting remarks, but the key to being a good salesperson is to not reciprocate in the same manner.
To be a successful agent, you have to accept these downsides of the job as well, and keep your professionalism and dignity intact regardless of how the customer behaves.
In a pressure situation, the average sales representative will crack, but the exceptional ones will keep their cool and converse as best as they can.
In the communications sector, you can never lose your temper because if you do, you will definitely lose business. These tough situations separate the extraordinary from the average.
6. Strike a personal chord with the customer – The importance of the salesperson is no less than the importance of the quality of the product that he is trying to sell.
Your customers will buy your products because they trust your brand and, more importantly, because they trust you.
Building a personal relationship with customers is extremely important, because it allows them to believe that you have their best interests at heart.
Putting yourself in the customer’s shoes also helps you gain perspective of the problem from a different point of view.
This helps in modeling your approach to that problem, and allows you to tackle it better.
This is the reason a lot of the successful sales pitches come after informal relationships are established, and the agent and the customer have had some time to be comfortable with each other.
A successful salesperson is able to harness the power of trust and develop a personal chord with the customer.
7. Follow up and stay in touch – The onus is on you to follow up after an initial relationship has been established.
Sales calls are usually not resolved over the first conversation – so you have to bear in mind the details discussed in a prior conversation and take the pitch forward.
Given the sort of technology available to agents today, following up should not be optional even after the sale has been made.
Customer retention is one of the primary concerns of a call center and staying in touch with previous customers is a great way to ensure your brand remains relevant to their work.
Waiting for people to call you back, or not taking ownership of initiating a conversation is a sure way to damage your reputation and hamper your sales.
Successful agents do these little things correctly and consistently, and that contributes to their growing abilities.
The Case Study
The aforementioned habits of successful salespeople may sound simple in theory, but doing them consistently for every call and every pitch is what sets them apart.
Leaders know that they must take initiative and sustain the qualities that got them to the top.
They keep their focus and are able to stay at the top of their game for a long period of time.
They use the technology that they have to bring out the best results, such as using the call center software to obtain information about the customer and then studying it thoroughly to understand their inclinations.
They also know how much time to devote to each thing to be more effective and manage their resources.
To illustrate how important cultivating these habits are, let us take the example of Emerald Infosystems, a telemarketing agency providing call center solutions for a large technological firm.
In this case study, we will be discussing the problem scenario that they found themselves in, the challenges they faced and the solutions that were proposed to deal with these challenges.
We will also discuss the effects of the changes implemented and how it led to the positive outcome.
The Problem Scenario
Emerald Infosystems had a large number of clients and employed a very capable workforce, hired on the basis of merit and performing their job well.
However, they noticed that there was little improvement in the efficiency and strategies devised as time went by.
The center was becoming static and they were losing the lead they had in the market.
They were looking to infuse an extra burst of energy in their agents to make them perform better.
The specific problems that were faced by the company are listed below.
1. A lot of promising leads were lost because of a lack of follow ups from the company. These leads either lost interest in the product after some time, or went to a rival.
2. Agents were dismissing too many calls as failures without trying to convert it for a very long time. They were not persistent enough to see the sale through.
3. The technology available was not being used to its full potential.
For example, agents did not invest time into understanding the customer before calling, which led to a lot of initial calls being misdirected.
The managers at the company came up with the following solutions to counter the problems that they were facing.
1. Agents were trained in the traits of successful salespersons such as learning how to control their temper, patiently persisting for a sale to happen and staying calm under pressure.
2. The company brought in the best call center software which allowed employees to see comprehensive analyses of a customer’s profile before making a call, so they could decide on the best way to approach that person beforehand.
3. The importance of following up and staying in touch was stressed upon, and technological help was provided to employees to schedule callbacks and follow ups, so that no potential customer was missed.
The implementation of these changes brought about a positive makeover almost immediately. From the very first quarter, performances were on the rise and customers were reporting better satisfaction levels.
The conversion rate was up by more than 20% and sales increased more than 10% compared to the previous year.
Employees were also found to have much more of a positive attitude and were willing to give their best to see better results come about.
Eventually, the company was able to establish a good relationship of trust with its customers and this contributed to a further burst in sales.
Thus we see how major change & the little twist in outlook can bring about.
Inculcating the habits of successful people allow you to utilize your time more effectively and put in effort where it matters.
Agents should look to use call center software solutions to design better and more robust solutions to the problems faced.
They also need to inculcate a spirit of persistence to solve tougher issues.
The ability to do the right thing day in and day out is what separates ordinary salespersons and the most successful ones.