Turning Prospects Into Loyal Customers: The 5 Skills of the Most Successful Salespeople
Turning a prospect into a loyal customer starts with the sales experience. Salespeople set the tone for the relationship, and to make that first impression count, they must learn to work efficiently and communicate effectively. Successful salespeople know they have to hone specific skills if they want to deliver great customer experiences. Here are five of the most important skills, plus some advice on how to get better at them:
All salespeople are busy — but why do some seem stressed and disorganized while others manage to stay cool no matter what? Because the latter group has learned to prioritize. Prioritization allows salespeople to separate what’s actually important from the tasks that would merely be nice to tackle. Truly effective prioritization requires more than just making a to-do list. The Center for Sales Strategy suggests an “ABC method” that sorts tasks into three categories:
• The “A” category should contain projects that are vital to the company’s success, such as sending proposals to target prospects.
• In the “B” category, place things that are important but can wait for later in the week, such as follow-ups.
• The “C” category contains tasks that would be good to do, but aren’t terribly urgent — think tasks like cold outreach.
Once your tasks are sorted, go through the categories in alphabetical order, moving tasks up as appropriate.
Whether selling enterprise software or used cars, salespeople need to know how to negotiate. Successful negotiation requires you to understand the other party’s needs, so it follows that negotiation training group SAB recommends using personality profiles to understand the individual. You need to get a sense early in the sales process of who your buyer is. You can’t send them a personality test, but you can use clues to guess at their personality type and tailor your pitch accordingly. For example, using the Myers-Briggs paradigm, you might look at signals like:
• Introversion vs. extraversion: Introverts think before responding to questions, while extraverts tend to answer immediately. During presentations, you may need to periodically stop to ask introverts if they have any questions. On the other hand, you can expect extraverts to ask questions freely.
• Intuition vs. sensing: If they focus on the here and now, they likely prefer sensing. Those who prefer intuition tend to focus on the future. Spend extra time showing sensing prospects you understand their challenges, and make an effort to give intuitive prospects a rich vision of the solution.
• Thinking vs. feeling: People who lean toward feeling consider how others will be affected, while thinkers tend to be more objective. Expect thinkers to focus on hard factors like price. Prospects who prefer feeling may be more concerned about things like implementation plans.
• Perceiving vs. judging: Perceiving types are all about the experience, while judging types are more concerned with the end result. Be patient with perceivers, who may require more time or touch points to close the sale. Cut to the chase with prospects who prefer judging.
Companies rise and fall on the basis of their customer experiences. Salespeople must be responsive not just in terms of time, but also emotionally. Factors like response speed, flexibility in communication channels, empathy, and positivity make prospects want to work with the salesperson and the company they represent. Be there when the prospect is ready to take the next step. An eBook from communication platform PingPilot and content marketing agency Scorch suggests embedding links in communication materials that enable prospects to get on the phone, shoot an email, or request a meeting when they’re ready. Replace gates to on-site content with click-to-chat buttons. Keep sales and customer service lines separate so prospects don’t have to request a transfer, sit on hold, and re-explain themselves in order to buy.
Salespeople don’t need to be the next J.K. Rowling, but they do need to come across as competent and warm in their written communications. Prospects won’t trust someone who can’t string a sentence together to understand their needs. Even email typos can create a perception of carelessness.
Unlike some of the skills on this list, writing skills are largely built through solo practice. Read regularly and imitate the conversational-yet-professional style of authors you admire. Focus on creating emotional connections without using superlatives, which can make sales pitches seem pushy or exaggerated.
5. Non-Verbal Communication
Body language conveys a lot during a sales conversation. How salespeople hold themselves can communicate anxiety and confusion, or it can show confidence and ease. Even from across the room, prospects can pick up on these cues.
Learn to control the signals your body language sends. HubSpot suggests tweaks that can give you an air of authority and confidence, like opening your chest, standing up straight, and varying your gestures (but keep them small).
Loyal customers don’t just waltz into sales pipelines — they’re cultivated, starting with the first interaction with your company. Master these skills to give prospects a great experience, and you’ll be well on your way to creating loyal customers.