Updated: May 20
Sales Techniques: I Hate to Break it to You…
Very few people I work with want to say, “I’m a salesperson.” And it shows.
As a business coach, I work with other coaches, with consultants, writers, online business managers - people who have real expertise, but as far as their sales technique goes…
It’s not their fault. They didn’t know they were salespeople. Why would they need to know about sales techniques?
But of course, they are in sales. Most of us are.
If you have a service and if people paid you for that service, like it or not - you’re a salesperson. You need to stop fighting it. You need to embrace it. You need to get training on sales techniques.
Relax. Selling doesn’t have to be hard. And if you are making it hard for yourself, you’re making it hard for your prospective clients too.
In this blog, I want to talk to you about some sales techniques that can help you relax and embrace your inner salesperson. But first, let’s get something else clear.
You Are the Solution
Before we move on to sales techniques, let’s level-set. I want to address the sales baggage you’re carrying.
You can’t be a good salesperson until we ditch the guilt, shame, and paranoia by the curb.
If you’re reading this you must have - or soon will have - a business. Selling is an act of business. But if that makes you squeamish, remember that selling is also an act of problem-solving.
The client first connects with you out of discomfort, need, longing. If you do it right, you can help them say what they really need. Then you can help them find a solution.
“Done well, selling today is helping people identify and address their needs in order to achieve their goals,” observes Harvard Business Review, “to improve efficiency in a business, to make something easier, to live a better life...”
If you don’t accept this one idea - then all the sales techniques in the world won’t be useful. You’ll make unclear offers, engage in self-sabotage, and negotiate yourself down to nothing until you burn out.
So if you can hold onto that idea - You Are the Solution - we can start to drill down on the basics of good sales techniques.
Being Crystal Clear
Stopping the Mind Reading
Shutting the hell up
Wrap your head around these sales techniques and things will get a lot easier for you and your client.
Be Very Clear: Simplicity is a Sales Technique
Some people treat straightforwardness in sales like it’s tacky or awkward. As if saying what’s on offer is in bad taste. Those people struggle in business.
When you consider effective sales techniques, remember it’s not about manipulation. It’s about clearing a path for your client. Clarity is the broom.
I mean put yourself in the client’s place.
When you’re trying to make a good decision on a purchase, how frustrating is it to never get a straight answer? How do you even begin to compare offers that don’t say definitively what they are?
Remember that a confused buyer never buys and a confused seller never sells.
So the most basic sales technique is to be super clear on what you’re enrolling them into - what will they get for their money.
This can be trickier than you think.
When you’re a service-based business it’s tempting to be vague. Inexperienced salespeople use vagueness as a kind of sales technique in itself. They try to adapt the offer in real-time to what they think the prospective client needs to hear.
But this is a sales technique that really bites you in the butt. It both over and underwhelms the client. Too many options, but nothing specific on offer.
Relieve both of you by spelling out exactly what the choice is. It’s not tacky. It’s a relief.
Yes, the client might discover that your offer isn’t for them. That’s fine. A sales technique that saves you from a bad experience is one worth using. You can both move on to a better fit. Everybody still wins.
Never Assume: Mind Reading is Not A Sales Technique
I have clients who actually gasp when I say what they should be charging. “Oh my god! The client can’t afford that.”
How on earth could you know that?
Reality check - ESP is not a sales technique. And I promise you - you’re not as great at reading the situation as you think.
This sales technique is more about what you shouldn’t do -
Never never never assume you know what your client can or can’t afford.
You don’t know what they have.
You don’t know how long they’ve been dying to solve this.
You don’t know what constitutes “a bargain” in their world.
I own 9000 yards of yarn. I know. Nuts, right? People who don’t knit think I’m a ridiculous weirdo to spend that kind of money on yarn.
But…it’s not weird to me. It’s worth it. It’s beautiful. It inspires me every time I look at it. I knew what I wanted from that purchase, and I got it.
Sales skills and techniques are not about controlling the whole experience for the client. Doing both sides of the conversation is not a sales technique.
You don’t know what matters to your client. Let them tell you.
The Mother of All Sales Techniques: Button Your Lip
When some people hear I’m a business coach, they ask me for a few selling tips and techniques. But what they really want is a script.
What are the magic words to get the client to say YES?
Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Actually, it is simple…but it’s hard to do.
If there’s one sales technique that’s magic, one sales skill to rule them all - it’s shutting the hell up.
Seriously. Just learn how to be quiet and stay quiet until the right moment.
When your client goes silent they’re thinking - assessing, digesting, reviewing. They might be doing math or rearranging their schedule.
Your talking is actually the opposite of a sales technique at that moment. It’s an irritant. It’s an interruption of their process.
When you’re prospective client goes silent, remember, you’re not part of this moment.
Stop the presentation. Don’t give a bio. No pros and cons. Hush.
If you give them this moment, they usually end up telling you why they should hire you.
Closing the Sale Quietly, Clearly
Silence is the key sales technique when closing too.
Make a very simple, clear offer. Then your job is to stay quiet until - and this is super important - until the client comes back with a complete, coherent thought.
If you speak before that you’ll start negotiating against yourself. You’ll throw down discounts, change the package. You’ll basically undo every piece of information the client is trying to hash out.
When you interrupt you create confusion and undercut your own solution. You push them farther and farther from the clarity you worked so hard to build for them.
Not a great technique for sales, but a great one for shutting down the client.
Make a clear offer. Be quiet. And be willing to learn from what happens next.
One Good Assumption in Sales
In the end, the most effective sales techniques aren't there to push the client toward your answer. They're to help the client find their own.
Remember how I told you not to make assumptions in sales? Not true. You can make one good assumption. You can assume that if they’re on the phone with you, part of them is already ready to work with you.
Employing some simple sales techniques isn’t a swindle or a con job. It’s giving your potential client enough information so they can get a grip on their priorities.
They’ve come to you out of need. They saw your website or watched your livestream and thought, “Oh thank god. I found you.”
Their destination is Change. Help them find the way there.
Ready to apply those techniques? We talk all about how to in my free coaching hour, Brave Biz Lab.