Sales principles are the fundamental concepts that ring true in every sales process. They’re based on customer psychology, marketing science, and human interaction studies.
Internalising these principles will make you a better salesperson by fostering stronger connections with your prospects. That connection will build trust, which will help you advise your customer on what they need. When you’re a trusted advisor, getting the deal closed becomes a lot easier, and you’re more likely to keep the customer for longer.
If you've worked in sales for any amount of time, you know that there's no shortage of selling tactics that experts swear by, and it can be difficult to know which ones are actually worth their salt. The following list is comprised of easy basics that you can write down and keep on a note by your computer for whenever you need some inspiration. By keeping the seven sales principles below in mind as you’re selling, you’ll make sure your strategy is customer-centric and effective. Read on for the best sales principles your team should be using with every deal.
The Best Sales Principles for Building Relationships and Closing Deals
1. Customers buy things that bring them value.
Customers see value in many different ways. A product might be a time-saver, a results-booster, a money-maker, or an insight-bringer. But ultimately, customers will only purchase a product that they think will benefit them. Great sales reps are able to spot the need and tailor their approach to help the customer see that value too. This is called value-based sales.
Value-based selling focuses on bringing the customer benefits. Rather than listing features ad nauseum, sales reps who use value-based selling listen to their customers, uncover what they need, and then provide value based on their customers’ individual pain points.
2. Listen at least as much as you speak.
"Truly listening is hearing the needs of the customer, understanding those needs, and making sure the company recognises the opportunities they present."
Frank Eliason, Global Director of Client Experience Team at Citi
More than two-thirds of buyers agree: listening to their needs is the most important way to create a positive sales experience. Nobody knows what your buyer needs more than them.
Instead of spending your time convincing the prospect that your solution is the right choice for them, spend time listening to their story and their pain points. By the end of the call, they’ll feel like you really know what they need and they’ll be more open to listening to your solution.
Rather than giving prospects a blanket statement about the benefits of your product, you’ll be able to pinpoint where they’ll see the value and speak directly to their needs.
3. Build trust by demonstrating expertise.
Only 3% of buyers trust sales reps. This trust deficit is one of the biggest problems facing salespeople. No matter how well you explain the value of your product or recommend a specific solution if your prospects don’t believe you…you’re facing a losing battle.
But fortunately, there is a way to develop that trust that sales reps so desperately need. Consistently demonstrating expertise and sharing that knowledge with your prospects shows that you understand the industry and are empathetic to their challenges.
By positioning yourself as an advocate for the customer, and a trusted advisor, you become a team member. Rather than sitting on the opposite side of the table selling to them, you’re sitting on the same side, working with them to solve the problem.
4. Be helpful.
"When salespeople are helpful, it minimises the natural resistance between a buyer and the salesperson. When a buyer looks to their sales rep as an ally and an asset, it creates a type of partnership that can weather the same storms of competitors."
Victor Clarke, Be Better, Do More
Rather than looking at sales as pushing one specific agenda, focus on understanding what your customer’s needs are - and then give them what they need.
As Gary Vaynerchuk explained in his 2013 book "Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook," going in hard for the sale right away won’t get you anywhere. The jabs are the little things you do for customers that show you understand them, and that you care. Once you’ve built that connection, that relationship, then you can knock them out with the right hook: your sales pitch.
There are many ways to be helpful to prospective buyers, such as;
- Introducing prospects to people in your network.
- Forward interesting articles that might help them solve a pain point (even if it's not written by your company).
- Connect them with opportunities to promote their own brand.
- Refer others to their business, or leave reviews for their products that you use and love.
5. Momentum closes deals.
People are busy. Without momentum, deals will drop to the bottom of priority lists for prospects, stakeholders, and even sales reps. But with momentum, there’s always a next step ready to be worked on and energy to get the deal closed.
At all steps of the sales process, keep the momentum moving forward. Set up workflows in your CRM to notify reps when leads need follow-ups. Use sales tie-downs in presentations to keep the conversation moving and work towards an agreement. Uncover what needs to happen on the prospect’s side in order to close the deal, and be proactive to get them what they need.
6. Persistence pays off.
You’ve probably heard all the stats before:
- It takes an average of 18 calls to actually connect with a buyer.
- Only 24% of sales emails are opened.
- 80% of sales require at least 5 follow-up calls.
- But, sadly, 44% of salespeople give up after only one follow-up call.
One of the fundamental truths of being in sales is that you can’t give up easily. Getting your messages in front of prospects takes time and persistence. Using a sales tracking platform like HubSpot can help you by logging all of the calls and emails you make, plus queue up your list of prospects to reach out to each day. HubSpot tracks all of the actions of your prospects, including website visits, email opens, and content downloads so even if you’re not connecting with the buyer, you’ll still know they are listening.
A caveat though: don’t be that salesperson that doesn’t know how to back off. Persistence doesn’t give you an excuse to be relentless. When someone tells you to stop contacting them, or they aren’t interested, then it’s time to move on.
7. Selling is all about relationships.
"If you're in business, first and foremost, you have to be nice. Show your customers that you care."
Sales reps with a short-term mindset probably don’t care much about forming relationships with their prospects. But they probably don’t have a lot of repeat customers either. Without building a long-term relationship with your prospect, you’ll be unlikely to see many referrals, achieve upselling targets, or increase your customers’ lifetime value.
Being nice to people isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s also an essential business principle. Taking the time to care (such as being flexible with meeting times, checking in on how things are going with them, sending thoughtful gifts) will mean that your customers will stick with you for the long run.
Sales Strategies for Customer-centric Companies
Sales principles help you develop better sales strategies. Keeping the basics in mind when you’re building workflows, designing presentations, and writing scripts will ensure that you’re heading in the right direction: towards long-lasting, profitable customer relationships.
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