If a part of your job involves sales, then you’re likely already well aware of how important communicators are. The ability to persuade someone’s viewpoint is vital in a sales role. Selling is the art of convincing people to think the way you do. Whether you’re selling a product or service or you want them to invest in your company, the root of all sales is being an excellent communicator.
Let’s examine ten communication skills that are crucial to sales success and that, when used, increase your chances of being successful.
1. Give your undivided attention
Everyone is busy today. But just because everyone is busy and can understand why you’re so busy, doesn’t make it acceptable to be distracted. People can tell when you’re not giving your full attention and making a prospective client repeat things they’ve already mentioned to you is a sure-fire way to ensure you never make the sale.
Sales is a pressure-filled career, but you need to be able to cut off the outside world and fully engage with the person you’re talking to.
Listening is perhaps the most obvious, but also the most essential skill. It’s more than just listening though, and you have to listen ACTIVELY. Too often in conversations, people are not listening to what you’re saying, but instead just waiting to talk. I’m sure you’ve been in a conversation like this and can tell when the other person is not using active listening.
Databox CEO Peter Caputa instructs Hubspot reps on how to actively listen, and he preaches a four-step process:
- Truly listen to the person
- Feed back the content and feeling of the person’s words
- Confirm you heard the person correctly
- Ask a relevant follow-up question to further clarify your understanding of their situation
To be a great salesperson, you need to empathize with a customer, and you can’t do that without actively hearing what they need. You can’t increase your knowledge or adapt your pitch without listening skills.
3. Body Language
Body language is a huge part of how we communicate, and in fact, body language makes up for 55 percent of how to interact with somebody.
Every hand gesture, smile, facial expression, change in tone of voice sends signals to a prospective customer about how you feel. Conversely, how a potential customer is standing, breathing, or speaking can tell you a lot about how you need to approach your conversation.
If you don’t naturally have great body language, or you’re not sure what yours is like - practice. Get in front of a mirror, or get a friend to help you with face-to-face communication. Work on your stance, hand gestures, eye contact and any other areas you need help with. As you become more confident, you’ll master your body language, and will be able to influence a conversation subtly.
4. Master the Tone of your Voice
Just like the signals you give off with your body language, the tone of your voice – specifically the volume, pitch, and speed – affect how what you’re saying is interpreted.
A unique technique for making your prospective client feel comfortable is to mirror the way they speak subtly and appropriately. For example, if they talk quickly, speed up your speech patterns. If they talk slowly, slow down. Also, match their level of formality and familiarity. If they constantly refer to you by your last name – “Hi Mr. Smith” – it would be inappropriate and likely make them feel uncomfortable to refer to them as ‘buddy.’
5. Be Empathetic
Empathy has been floating around as a buzzword in sales circles for a number of years now, and it’s easy to see why. When it comes to sales skills, showing you understand your customer’s problems and that you care about solving them can be the difference between making a sale or not.
Inexperienced salespeople will often parrot the same lines to every customer – and your customer can tell. Instead of just saying “I understand what you’re saying,” then launching into your sales pitch, really hear the problems your customers have. Do your best to understand their job from all angles, then suggest a product or service that will help them solve their problem.
The best sales reps have pitches that are dynamic and successful because they understand their buyers feelings and what they do.
6. Read Between the Lines
Being a good sales rep is a little like being a good psychologist. Learning to understand what’s not being said can help you craft the right sales pitch. Are you just being evaluated because your prospect’s boss is making him get a third option? Is your potential customer sold, but has no decision-making ability? Learning to understand these things will make you a better salesperson and increase your sales success.
7. Be Specific
The best salespeople know that while “The XR200 can increase your business,” is a good headline it’s not a great way to get your customers to buy-in to what you’re selling.
Speaking specifically about how your product can help solve a customer’s problem will significantly increase your chances of sales success. If you can provide specific examples of how you’ve helped customers in the past, or how you’ve seen your product work and how that relates to your customers business, then that creates a powerful drive towards buying from you.
The most compelling points often relate to how your product can create cost savings, and ROI. That combined with a relatable anecdote will have you off to a great start.
8. Be an Expert
Prospective clients will never be able to trust you if you don’t really understand your own business and can’t accurately relay how it can help them.
Not only must you know your products inside and out, but you have to understand the broader marketplace and how those puzzle pieces fit in with your business and your customer’s problems.
When you know your business well you will be able to:
- Answer any question with confidence
- Pick the most persuasive selling points based on what your customer’s needs are
- Show how your business/product works within the marketplace
9. Don’t make Assumptions
All of that being said, being an expert doesn’t mean you have to know everything. It’s impossible to know every nuance of a customer’s business, and you risk offending them if you pretend like you do.
Be aware of where the gaps in your knowledge are and ask your prospective client to fill them in. They’ll appreciate your honesty, and this will create an excellent opportunity to open a dialogue with them about how you can help.
No client will mind the occasional “I’m sorry I don’t have that information, let me find it out for you,” and by making openness and honesty a part of your approach you’ll increase the chances of sales success.
10. The Power of Silence
Negotiators know that silence can be a powerful thing, and silence is a great sales skill to have.
Instead of immediately jumping to fill in any gap in the conversation, leave a few seconds after your customer has finished a thought. This way, you’re guaranteeing that you won’t be interrupting an important thought and you’re giving both yourself and your customer the chance to think about what has been said.
Excellent communication skills can be a great weapon in a salesperson's arsenal. Understanding what you need to be successful, how to use your skills and practicing them can make all the difference when trying to land a sale.