Originally published on Forbes.com on December 28, 2017.
For many sales professionals, it’s easy to get caught up in the numbers – quotas, commissions, order size, etc. But when it comes down to it, your customers are people, not just numbers, and they don’t want to be treated as another name to cross off your list.
That’s why is imperative to take special care when communicating with your prospects, from the initial pitch call to post-sale follow up. You want to speak with them in such a way that cultivates trust and respect – a lasting relationship that will make them want to continue buying from your company.
Twelve members of Forbes Coaches Council each shared their best communication tip that will help you land the sale with an ideal lead.
All images courtesy of Forbes Councils members.
1. Create A Relationship First
Too often, salespeople do not take the time to create a relationship with the potential sales prospect first, and just go straight in for the sale. This immediately turns me off. When a salesperson takes the time to get to know me and my needs and then offers a solution, I am 100% more likely to make a purchase from that person. Ask questions and get to know the person, and you will win. – Kerissa Kuis, The University of Wellness
2. Be Empathetic
Place yourself in the shoes of the person on the other side of the communication. This means disciplining yourself to be quiet and allowing the other person to tell you about what their needs are. It may mean walking away from the sale, but the exchange will be more meaningful for both of you. When the sale does come, it won’t come from spin. –Billy Williams, Archegos
3. Identify The End Result They Desire
When communicating with an ideal prospect, keep in mind that they may be coming to you for relief from a specific problem, but they may be unaware of the long term result they desire most. Helping them identify this will assist you in creating a solution they are deeply satisfied with. – Monique Alvarez, Monique Alvarez Enterprises
4. Think Like Your Prospect
Instead of selling your service or product, think like your prospect. What’s their primary business need and how can you help them? Look and listen for opportunities to save your client money, improve efficiencies and solve their overarching needs. Putting yourself in your client’s shoes will force you to understand their perspective, rather than simply selling to them. – Jeanna McGinnis, ReResumeMe®
5. Focus On Service Above All Else
Sales are about service. If you are concerned about how a sale will benefit you, you are going about it all wrong. Shift your perspective to really service the client, and making sure they have the right tools to solve their problem or achieve their goals. All you need to do is be curious. Ask questions to understand their true needs. Then, demonstrate the solution you could provide. – Hanna Hermanson, Dream Life is Real Life
6. Speak To Their Heart
Fail-proof tip for selling without being sales-y: Speak to the heart of the ideal customer. Know who they are and what they need, intimately. Know their pain points, struggles and dreams. Get to know them. What is the outcome they actually desire to achieve? How will this purchase help them get there? Be clear on those things, connect with them, and share freely. – Amanda Frances, Amanda Frances Inc
7. Say ‘Yes’ Instead Of ‘But’
You need to “yes” your ideal prospect and not greet their concerns with an argumentative “but.” If someone says your services are too expensive, you’ll simply start an argument by saying, “But they are worth it!” Instead, say, “Yes, I understand you think the services are too expensive, and I think they are worth it. Let’s talk about making this happen!” –Jennifer Oleniczak Brown, The Engaging Educator
8. Adapt Your Approach To The Prospect’s Preferences
Stop trying to sell the way you like to be sold to. Not everyone wants to have a beer with you, just like not everyone wants to hear facts and figures. We all have our preferences. When a sales call goes bad, don’t do more of the same. Ask to understand, “What is it you really need?” and adapt your approach to their way of thinking. Put yourself in their shoes instead of staying in your own. – David Butlein, Ph.D., BLUECASE Strategic Partners
9. Be The Solution
At the end of the day, our clients need to feel as if what we offer can solve their problems. The most skilled salesperson will hit a wall with a discerning customer when trying to sell a service that doesn’t solve that customer’s problem. So focus on understanding the customer’s problem, being the solution and communicating that solution. – Amanda Miller Littlejohn, Package Your Genius Academy
10. Ignore the Sale… For Now
If this is your ideal prospect, then you’ve done your research. Take the time to discuss the client’s business, pain points and benchmarks. The more information you can get, the better; it can be used at a later time. Discuss your product or service as it relates to their current pain points and goals for the coming years. Slow down. Going for the sale too early can stop you before you start. – Niya Allen-Vatel, Career Global
11. Show How Your Solution Integrates With Their Current Routine
When I am looking at purchasing a new product or service, I want to know that the salesperson understands how their product can be integrated with my current workflow. Just explaining how the product functions will make it less likely that I will pull the trigger to purchase. Don’t make me have to visualize how I can make the product work in my existing systems. – LaKesha Womack, Womack Consulting Group
12. Find Common Ground
One of the easiest ways to close a sale is to find common ground with your prospect. Do a simple Google search to find articles they’ve written, tweets about sports teams, or anything that can be a mutual interest, and start there. Adding this personal touch lets the person know that you care and you’ve done your research. It humanizes both of you in the process. – Erika Ashley Couto, It’s Erika Ashley, Inc.