Sales Techniques: The Most Effective Methods of Selling Today

While sales techniques have been refined and honed by salesmen for hundreds of years, the basic premise of selling remains the same. A sales person is looking to gain a prospect's attention, generate interest and desire, and convince the prospect to take action. There are many ways to accomplish this task. Most sales people use an assortment of approaches depending on their prospect, but all sales techniques tend to have one thing in common. They focus on creating a relationship with the buyer, which is the key to any long-term sales success.

Sell the benefits, not the features:

Before a sale can be made, a qualified prospect must be located. This is the first step in the sales process. Different sales techniques can be employed to find these targeted prospects. Some of the more popular ones include direct mailing, telemarketing, having a retail store front, email marketing, networking, and referrals.

Once you've gotten a prospect's interest, you have to help create a desire for the product and 'sell the sizzle'. You do this through the sales presentation. This is the heart of the sales process. Some of the most popular sales techniques consist of these components:

Sell the benefits, not the features: This is one of the oldest marketing rules, and still the most effective. People buy based on emotion, and then justify their purchase with logic. In other words, they don't buy a product for its features, they buy based on what the product can do for them, or the benefit they will receive. As Ted Levitt, a famous marketer said, "People don't want to buy a quarter-inch drill, they want a quarter-inch hole."

Know your prospect: Try and find out as much about your prospect ahead of time as possible. During the sales presentation, listen much more than you talk. Let the prospect tell you about themselves. You should listen to the client's needs, find their emotional triggers, and then use those in your sales presentation. Mimicking a client's word usage and body language is also very powerful.

Match your sales pitch to the client's needs: Once you find out what the client needs, help them understand how your product or service can work to fulfill that need. Make sure your offer is a good match, and don’t try to 'sell the store'. If you try and convince someone to buy something they don't need, or sell them more than they need, you may damage any chance of a future relationship.

Become a resource for your client: People these days are usually far too savvy to fall for a simple sales pitch. You must show the prospect that not only can your product or service help them achieve their goals, but that you can as well. By showing that you can be a valuable resource for your client, you separate yourself from other sales people who are just looking to make a quick buck. People will usually choose to work with someone they feel genuinely cares about their success, regardless of whether they have the lowest prices or best sales presentation.

Use social proof and statistics to convince the prospect: People typically like to have their decision validated by others. This is where testimonials come in. They also like to have their emotional response backed up with logical proof. This could be statistics based on the product, comparisons between the competitor and your company, or any awards the company or product has won.

Ask for the sale: The salesperson should always ask for the sale. This can be done in a number of ways. Some of the most popular are the direct approach, the either or approach (Would you like the red or green widget?), and the overcoming of objections approach (If I can get you that, would you order today?).

There are many other sales techniques, and variations on the ones listed above. At their core, all sales techniques are about developing and nurturing a relationship with a potential client. Considering the fact that it's five times more expensive to get a new customer than to maintain a current one, sales people who take this process seriously and master the psychology behind selling will have extremely successful sales careers.