Top-Shelf Tip No. 229:

"I never dreamed about success. I worked for it."

Estée Lauder

Five Sales Skills Of Successful Salespeople

It takes talent to turn a prospect into a loyal customer. Successful salespeople know that to win clients, they must hone specific skills to deliver a fan-worthy experience. It starts with the very first interaction. As a sales professional, you set the tone from the beginning.

Brittany Hodak, co-founder of The Superfan Company, says that to make the first impression count, you must learn to work efficiently and communicate effectively. In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we share Hodak's five important sales skills.

1. Prioritization. Salespeople are busy. So why do some seem stressed and disorganized while others manage to stay cool through anything? Because the latter group has learned to prioritize, says Hodak. Prioritization allows salespeople to separate what's important from the tasks that would merely be nice to tackle.

2. Negotiation. Whether selling enterprise software or used cars, salespeople need to know how to negotiate. Hodak encourages sales reps to get a sense early in the sales process of who their buyer is. Rather than send them a personality test, use cues to guess at their personality type and tailor your pitch to that. For example:

  • Introversion vs. extroversion: Introverts think before responding to questions, while extroverts tend to answer immediately. Periodically ask introverts during presentations if they have any questions; expect extroverts to ask them freely.
  • Intuition vs. sensing: If they focus on the here and now, they likely prefer sensing to intuition, which causes people to focus on the future. Spend extra time showing sensing prospects you understand their challenge, while giving 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, says Hodak.
  • 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 judging types.

3. Responsiveness. Companies rise and fall on their customer experience. Salespeople must be responsive not just in terms of time, but emotionally as well, notes Hodak. Factors such as response speed, flexibility in communication channels, empathy and positivity make prospects want to work with the salesperson and, by extension, the company they represent. Be there when their prospect is ready to take the next step.

4. Writing. Hodak says that while salespeople don't have to be the next J.K. Rowling, they should be competent and warm in their written communications. Prospects won't trust someone who can't string a sentence together to understand stakeholder 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 model the conversational-yet-professional style of authors you admire. Hodak advises focusing on creating emotional connection without using superlatives, which can make sales pitches seem pushy or overblown.

5. Non-verbal communication. Body language is a big part of the message conveyed during a sales conversation. Salespeople can convey anxiety and confusion or confidence and ease through their body language. Learn to control the signals you send.

You won't magically acquire a pipeline of superfans. It takes the right skills to give prospects a remarkable experience—the kind that turns them into loyal customers.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers

Source: Brittany Hodak is co-founder of The Superfan Company, an entertainment agency that helps brands and celebrities identify, engage and retain their most important customers. She's been mentioned as one of the top sales motivational speakers in the industry.

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