Entrepreneurs wear a lot of hats: lead product designer, head of marketing, director of customer service, and salesperson.
Keeping up with it all can feel overwhelming, especially if any of these areas don’t speak to your strengths. But when you're just starting out, sales is essential. Without consistent sales, none of the rest really matters.
There are dozens of tried and true sales techniques that are staples of any entrepreneur’s arsenal. Cold calling is still an effective way to build awareness and find leads. Cold email still does the trick too. Yet, how you use these tactics is just as important.
Every entrepreneur needs a few tricks up their sleeves, and we’ve got five sales techniques that’ll help you on your journey.
Storytelling is arguably the oldest selling technique out there. In the book, ‘Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die,’ brothers Dan and Chip Heath called out a study that showed that 63% of attendees remember stories during a presentation, while only 5% remember statistics.
Before you jump right into telling tall tales, it’s important to define your core message. Are people less stressed after buying your product? Do they have more free time to spend with their kids? Are they in a better position to make more money?
Once you know that, you can paint the picture. Talk to real clients and figure out what your product or service did for them. Sometimes your product is a means to an end. People buy landscaping services not because it’s tough work but because they’d rather use that time in other ways. Tell that story.
Alternately, tell stories that tell people about yourself or your ultimate goals. If people identify with you, your product, and your overall mission, they’re more likely to listen and make a purchase. Try to evoke emotion — people don’t remember exactly what you say, but they do remember how you make them feel.
“Challenger Selling” is a concept that Brent Adamson dreamed up that revolves around the salesperson teaching the customer, tailoring the sales process, and controlling the conversation. It virtually eliminates the feeling of a pushy, impersonal salesperson, who’s looking for a quick sale.
Challenger sales-people thrive on creative tension and focus on fully understanding that their prospects are busy individuals that need guidance from a knowledgeable industry professional.
Challengers' ultimate goal is understanding what drives their prospect’s decision-making process. What’s their budget? What are their pain points? What’s holding them back from pulling the trigger?
Following these prompts helps tailor the sales process and ultimately control the narrative. If you know exactly what drives people or keeps them up at night, then you can speak a language that evokes emotion and action.
A big part of sales enablement is providing your customers with a transparent view of the value your product or service provides. Lots of companies these days conceal their pricing and focus on selling. High-dollar products and services may require such an approach, but it’ll only take you so far.
These days, savvy customers are doing their own research, comparing prices online, reading reviews, and wanting to customize their purchase to maximize value and minimize their cost.
Rather than letting others control the SEO rankings or YouTube results, try creating your own content comparing your prices and features to competitors.
Show exactly what you get at each price point and offer three options whenever possible: one for people who aren’t ready to commit but want more features, another that suits most people, and some sort of enterprise or premium level for those who are fully sold and want more users and features.
Doing things this way gives people options versus pushing them down a specific path. Plus, it’s transparent, which people value.
The beauty of owning your own business is that you’re not chained to corporate “best practices.” You can do things big companies can’t or won’t. Big companies only do things that scale. They try hard not to contradict themselves and end up with a consistent but mediocre experience.
As an entrepreneur, you don’t have to adhere to such lackluster standards. You can send prospective customers gifts. You can answer the phone after hours. If you wanted, you could even make up discounts on the spot and break all the “rules.” This level of detail and personal attention just can’t be replicated with service automation, and it’s a great way to stand out from other brands.
You can empower your team to do anything in their power to improve a customer experience or close the deal as long as it costs $50 or less to do so. You make up the number, the rules, and how enjoyable the experience can be.
The secret to boosting your close rate is in the follow-up. It’s widely believed that people are more likely to buy from you if you follow up. You can follow up with a phone call using a cheap business phone service or an email, or you can get creative and connect on LinkedIn, send them a tweet, or send something to their office.
Connecting isn’t limited to one channel, and sometimes people just need a reminder that you still exist and that the offer is on the table. Connecting on LinkedIn or Twitter can even build more of a connection because they can scroll through your profile or history to get more context.
Ultimately, people appreciate and value persistence. Resiliency is an admirable quality, and if you continue to follow up by providing value, they’ll see that you’re not just out to make a quick buck but hopefully see you as a long-term partner.
Innovative entrepreneurs and top salespeople both know that testing is the key to success. If you keep using the same bag of tricks forever, they’ll eventually lose their appeal. Now that you know what works, it’s your turn to get creative and have a little fun during the sales process.
Luke Fitzpatrick has been published in Forbes, Yahoo! News and Influencive. He is also a guest lecturer at the University of Sydney, lecturing in Cross-Cultural Management and the Pre-MBA Program. You can connect with him on LinkedIn.