How Does Consultative Selling Work?

Jeff Cochran


Customers need a reason to pick you for their purchase over all the other options available, which has become an ever tougher challenge thanks to the internet, changes in marketing strategies, and the rise of social media. The convenience of the online marketplace mixed, combined with the many options out there makes the world of sales a more complicated place. As a result, the trend toward building relationships with clients continues to gain more traction.


What Is Consultative Sales?

Consultative sales is the practice of putting the customer’s needs before your own. Designing your sales model based on what your customer is looking for increases the chance of a customer actually purchasing your product. You may have a fabulous product, but if it does not solve a fairly common problem, your “peddling” it will only cost your credibility.


It’s All About Authenticity

To be true to consultative sales, you have to truly believe the client’s needs are important. It’s not something you can fake. It’s important to believe in what you are selling and how it has the power to truly change someone’s life or impact their business. When you really believe in your product or service, it’s easy to market it in the best light possible and to show others how it can change their lives.


Ask Open-Ended Questions

The only way to find out more about your potential customer is to ask questions. Lots and lots of questions. But not just any questions will do. You need to ask open-ended questions that leave room for as much information as possible. Open-ended questions lead to more questions and bring you to the heart of the customer’s problem. The client will eventually reveal the reason he or she needs your product in their life and how you can help them solve the problem. Start broad and then dig in, and don’t make assumptions!


The Customer Composes the Pitch

If consultative sales happen in the correct way, the customer actually ends up pitching the salesperson on why he or she need the product in their life. A consultative sales presentation allows the customer to lead the salesperson in the direction they want to go instead of the salesperson centering the presentation on the product. Finding a solution to the problem should feel like a team effort in which both parties contribute information. The entire experience feels more personal when the customer has input toward the solution. It no longer feels like a cookie-cutter pitch that everyone gets to hear. You spend time more building a relationship, which results in a better experience.


Drive the Plan

It’s important to listen to what the customer is telling you, but it’s also important not to waste everyone’s time letting the conversation wander. Your job is to keep the meeting on track. Offering a plan will help everyone see you came prepared, and you are ready to listen and build a relationship to serve their needs in the best way possible. Keep the conversation to the topics relating to the sale. Don’t end up talking about someone’s family picnic six years ago when Aunt Alice really needed to clean her house. If the conversation starts taking a turn in that direction, rein it in and bring it back to the topic at hand. Quick tip: Don’t just set agendas for meetings, be strategic about what is included, and prepare you will start meetings in order to set the desired tone and direction.


Make Them See the Value

The difference between product-based sales and a consultative sales approach is that you are not focusing your pitch on the product itself. A sale can be defined as the transfer of ownership of, and title to, property from one person to another for a price. People don’t want to pay that price for an item of no value. They want to know their purchase is going to offer them something and that it is going to be a smart buy. A values-based selling approach gives people the opportunity to see how your product makes sense for their life, which will make them much more likely to purchase. Deeper Thought: People don’t typically buy the specific item or service as a means in itself, they buy it as a means to an end. They buy a desired outcome – i.e. when someone goes into a hardware store and asks for a ¼ inch drill bit, what is that they want? They may be asking for a drill bit, but they really want the holes they are going to make with it. Don’t forget the result the other side is looking for.

If you are looking to improve your sales technique, sign up for SNI’s Influence & Persuasion Training course. SNI offers techniques to give you more confidence, improve your skills and to stay cool under pressure. Check out all the details here:




Solution Selling: How It Impacts the Selling Process

Jeff Cochran


The sales idea known as solution selling started in 1975 when Frank Watts used his experiences in the real world to design his sales pitch toward what his buyer actually needed and not the product he was selling. It caught on and is still used today in sales techniques and classes. How can you use solution selling to benefit your business?


Stop Wasting Everyone’s Time

If you’ve done your homework prior to a sales meeting, you should have an understanding of your buyer’s needs and wants. Instead of planning a broad pitch that may include products for which your client has no need, tailor your pitch to include things that actually apply to their business. Would you walk into a horse ranch and try to sell cattle feed? They wouldn’t make a purchase, you would waste the time of the ranch manager, and everyone would walk away unhappy. No one enjoys a meeting that just wastes time, so don’t be that salesperson.


Become a Resource

It’s your job to fix things when a client has a problem. Your knowledge of the products and services you offer will help both of you get to the solution. The more information you have, the better you can help solve the problem. Knowing every possible use for your product or service will allow you to pull out the correct answer when a question arises. Consult your sales team for any outside-of-the-box solutions you may not have previously considered. Keep information available on products not included in your original pitch during your meeting in case a new problem arises. Impress your client with your preparedness and he or she will trust your solution is the best fit for the problem.


Create a Custom Bundle

If you have a product with a broad range of uses, create several different selling solution models that cover each type of customer. For example, we’ll take the classic vacuum cleaner salesperson. You have a couple different models of vacuums to sell, but a large client base that needs to clean:

  • A business interested in purchasing cleaning supplies. To market vacuums to a large business, you would include the larger models that clean more floor space and have industrial strength suction for dirt tracked in by customers. Your presentation could address how the larger model can clean more square footage in a shorter amount of time, equaling money saved in the long run by paying the employees less time to clean up at the end of the day. Depending on the size of the business, you can suggest different package deals for the number of tools the company will need to clean their space. There may also be tools for everyday cleanings and tools for less-frequent deep-cleans.
  • For a family looking to clean their home. The pitch to the family would include information on ease of storage with a smaller unit and extra tools for detailing furniture, corners, and more. You should have information available on a second hand-held model for smaller spills, offering a package deal for families interested in purchasing both models.
  • For someone living alone in a small house. You would market the smallest model possible and emphasize how it can clean small spaces with a lot of power. Emphasize ease of use, lightweight features, and suction power. Show why purchasing a high-end model for such a small space will save money in the long run because the client will not have to replace parts frequently or hire a cleaning service.

You are still selling the same products from the same company, but you are creating a bundle for your customer base that speaks to their individual problems. If your buyer believes you truly have their best interest at heart, they will be more likely to do business with you now and again in the future.


How to Develop a Solution Selling Pitch

How do you decide which products to offer your client? A little research before your meeting goes a long way. Here is a list of things to consider when creating the solution selling pitch for your next client:

  • Identify your buyer’s common problems. What exactly is the problem they are looking to solve?
  • Think about what won over your past buyers and made them decide to purchase the product. Take notes from your previous buying process and use them in your pitch.
  • Develop open-ended questions to ask your prospective customers at the beginning of the presentation. This will focus your recommendations on their actual needs and open up the conversation.
  • Be sure to show off the product’s value and how your customer can’t live without it. If you prove how much easier the product will make life for your client, he or she will be more likely to pay whatever the price.
  • Show how much money the product will save in the long run. It may be a large price tag right this minute, but if the product has a guarantee to last, or can help to accrue savings over time, buyers are more likely to consider purchasing it.

All these points together will paint a picture to your potential customer of why he or she should purchase your product. Be sure to ask open-ended questions as often as possible, and really listen to the answers.


Impact on Your Sales Career

Showing someone why they need your particular product is a great way to convince them to purchase, which will increase your sales. A well-constructed solution selling pitch factors in the client’s needs, which strengthens the relationship between salesperson and client. When your client feels you are taking care of their needs, they will be more likely to return to you in the future for the solution to their problem. Don’t just sell them the product, but check in with them after they purchase it to see how it is working for their problem. Offer any additional guidance needed to cement the relationship, and enjoy the trust that begins to develop. Positive salesperson-client relationships lead to positive business results, which helps keep your career on track.


Word of Mouth

Word of mouth is the best form of advertisement. When someone needs a solution to a problem, they ask a friend. When that friend remembers this great salesperson who helped them solve their own problem they will be likely to recommend that salesperson to their friends and family. Your business will grow and flourish as word gets out that you have the perfect solution to the problem. Cultivating relationships will take you everywhere in the sales world.

Interested in taking your business to the next level? Consider investing in your future with sales training. SNI offers a comprehensive training about Influence & Authority, and how you can use it to your advantage while in the sales world today.


How is Negotiating Skills Training Relevant to Your Sales Career?

Jeff Cochran


Advanced negotiation skills are essential when working in a sales environment The tension can sometimes rise in situations in which parties feel they are not being heard, or they are not getting the best deal. In 2018, good communication skills are sometimes forgotten due to connections via technology. Sometimes it is important to get back to basics and revisit your negotiation skills.


Everyone Needs Negotiation Skills

The world of sales is not just black and white. Being able to negotiate with different parties will produce a better outcome when offering a pitch. Advanced negotiation skills mean you have more to offer a client in terms of empathy and understanding. Negotiation skills benefit all parties during a discussion and can sometimes help to defuse any tension. A discussion without tension feels much more relaxed for everyone and usually produces a better end result. Of course, there is a huge difference between feeling relaxed and being a pushover during the negotiation process. Be ready to stand your ground when the need arises, and to know the difference between backing down and giving up.


Close the Deal with a Win-Win

A good negotiator knows both parties need to feel as though they have won at the end of a sales agreement. You are more likely to gain a repeat customer if your client feels he or she walked away with a good deal. Being aggressive while closing a deal might get you what you want, but it can really hurt a future relationship with a client. Taking a small loss during the negotiation might actually lead to a bigger win later. A win-win situation comes with advanced negotiation skills and patience.


Give Profit Margins a Boost

By negotiating your contracts, you may find the extra profit margins end up right in your pocket. Drug companies will go to great lengths to make sure the largest margin of profit stays in their pockets. These companies often reward sales reps with advanced negotiation skills by padding their paychecks. Other industries do the same. Obtaining savings for your company is the mark of an advanced sales representative and requires training in negotiation. Paying for negotiation training now could mean a bigger return on your investment in the future.


Build Confidence

There is nothing more intimidating than heading into a high-pressure business meeting. The anticipation may weigh you down, but if you have negotiation skills to lean on, you can feel confident you will be ready to handle whatever comes your way. Training to develop your advanced negotiation skills focuses on how to view the situation from all sides. Instead of just throwing out a sales pitch, learn to listen to your client and apply what he or she is telling you about the presentation. Answer their questions and be ready with facts to back up your side of the story. You will feel more confident inside, and you will look more confident and give a more polished presentation. We like to say – Nothing convinces like conviction.


Work to Gain Mutual Respect

Listen to your clients, because you will learn things about their businesses that can help you to respect their positions. Tailor your presentation to the products that would help their particular situation. You will gain the respect of your clients by not wasting their time pitching something they have no interest in purchasing. When your client respects you, and you respect their business, you gain a mutual understanding. Be sure to make notes immediately upon leaving your presentation so the next time you visit you will not have to start from square one. Review your notes for each client before attending your next meeting with them to continue the feeling of respect. Customers appreciate a personalized sales experience and will continue coming back if they feel you gave them what they were want.

To brush up on your advanced negotiation skills, sign up for our next negotiation training. SNI has more than 20 years of negotiation experience and more than 250,000 participants. Expect to see an immediate positive impact for your business.

How to Succeed in Pharmaceutical Sales

Jeff Cochran


The world of pharmaceutical sales is competitive. There are numerous sales representatives who would love to have the same job and a great sales career. How can you be sure you have what it takes to get the job? Let’s take a look at some of the top skills recruiters want to see in a candidate.


Good People Skills

You need to have good people skills when going out to market a product. Get to know your client before you step foot in the door in order to have a leg up. Do they like a friendly, personal tone? Or are they strictly business? Good sales reps do their homework.

Active listening is an important part of having good people skills. Don’t just talk at your client and pitch the sale. Be sure to take a step back and listen to what potential clients are saying: They just might be giving you the clues you need to close the sale. With a bit of sales experience, you’ll learn how to listen and use what you hear to create an end game.

Sharp problem-solving skills are also key to a good sales presentation. You may be ready to pitch your product in one way, but being flexible allows you to adjust to your client’s needs as you go. By listening to what your client is saying and using your knowledge of your field, you can adjust the pitch and work together on a solution that fits everyone’s needs.


Strong Product Knowledge

The pharmaceutical industry is constantly changing. Technology and science are rapidly evolving, and it is important to stay on the top of these updates. You must demonstrate a strong knowledge of the product you are selling in order to answer questions and show the product in a positive light. No one will take you seriously at the entry level if you don’t sound knowledgeable in your field. Check this list for some ways to read the latest news in your field:

  • Have a list of reputable websites bookmarked for easy reading.
  • Subscribe to magazines with the latest information in your field.
  • Follow relevant drug companies and professionals on social media for updates.
  • Find podcasts that discuss relevant information.
  • Know the FDA guidelines and regulations.
  • Sign up for sales training courses to help you become a better sales representative.

Consider investing in a tablet for on-the-go reading opportunities. Magazines are now delivered digitally, and your bookmarks are available on any device. Grab your tablet when you have time to read and you’ll be ready for any upcoming meeting.


Comfortable with Public Speaking

Pitching a new drug usually requires a presentation. People considering pharmaceutical sales, even at an entry level, will need to be comfortable speaking in a public setting. Whether it be one-on-one with a doctor, or to a purchasing committee, clear articulation is important, especially when using industry jargon. Prepping your pitch before you get to your presentation will help you to stay calm and focus on the information. Be sure to know the proper pronunciation of drug names to avoid looking foolish. It doesn’t take much to accidentally convince someone you are clueless.

If you have prepared a PowerPoint presentation to accompany your pitch, be sure everything is ready to go before your meeting. There is nothing more embarrassing than making a client watch you fumble with your device to get it working. Arrive at the location a few minutes early and ask the receptionist for help getting connected to the Wi-Fi network. If you hit the ground running, your presentation will make an even bigger impression.


Manage Your Own Time

You need to be your own project manager as a pharmaceutical rep. Figuring out how to manage your time can be tricky, so it’s important to have good time-management skills:

  • Set goals. Make your goals manageable so you can be sure to meet them step by step. Don’t forget to set both short-term and long-term goals for yourself.
  • Plan ahead. Use a planner to record deadlines. Having it written down in one place you can refer to as needed is helpful for getting things done on time.
  • Put tasks in order of importance on your to-do list. Do highest the priority tasks first and early in the day while your concentration level is at its peak.
  • Know your strengths. No two people work in the same way, so know yourself and how you are the most productive.
  • Self-motivation. One of the hardest things about managing your own time is motivation to reach your goals. Work out a system of rewards for when you reach your goals. Reward yourself with something small, like your favorite drink or a brain break for small goals, and a larger reward like a weekend shopping trip or dinner at a favorite restaurant for meeting larger goals. Having something to look forward to will make reaching your goals a lot more fun.


Industry-Specific Skills

It pays to know what you are talking about. Brush up on your industry-specific skills and language. If you are working with a drug for a certain illness, know about the other treatment options why this one will help patients in a different way. Having the knowledge to back up the information will be the key to landing the deal over someone else who didn’t do his or her homework.


Be Ready to Travel Anytime

The more you are willing to travel as a sales representative, the more jobs you will land. Leaving room for as much travel as possible in your schedule will expand your client base. Traveling may seem tedious, but it actually gives you a chance to catch up on your reading or listening to podcasts. Bring your tablet on the plane and make a plan of action for your meeting. This will keep everything fresh for when you arrive. If you are driving, download a podcast or two to play on your drive. Travel time is a great opportunity to absorb new information.


Get Your CNPR Training

One of the best ways to stand out as a sales representative is by having your CNPR Pharmaceutical Training Program certificate. This certifies you have the proper training to have a pharmaceutical sales career. Employers are going to check your industry knowledge during the application process, so being able to show you passed the industry standard test means you’ll have a leg up on other candidates. The course is self-paced, and students must pass a 160-question exam in 120 minutes.

Want to give yourself the boost to stand out at your next interview? SNI offers a variety of trainings to take your sales career to the next level. Our Influence and Persuasion training will help you to make your pitch and explain why your product is the one the doctor should be prescribing.

The Best Sales Training Programs: What to Look For

Jeff Cochran


Training employees and salespeople to be high-quality sales experts is not a simple task. While there is never a one-size-fits-all solution to equipping individuals with the desired sales skills, there are several aspects that are always incorporated into the most thriving sales training programs. Here are the top six qualities of the most prosperous sales training courses and programs to look out for when selecting a sales training program.


1.  Active Direction

An outstanding training program begins with a person dedicated to the cause. Known as a program leader, this person is usually the director of professional development, a business growth specialist, or a training organizer in the company. No matter what position the person holds, this individual is spearheading the training and development of his or her fellow employees.

Training managers are responsible for organizing, designing, and implementing all training actions within the company. An excellent training program director is open-minded and committed to helping fellow employees develop the skills necessary to help them achieve their professional potential. These individuals are also eager to learn how to become better employees themselves and consistently work to enhance their own skillsets and abilities in their field.


2. In-Depth Company Needs Evaluation

The success of all sales training programs depends on the introduction of necessary skills and ideas to employees. When beginning the process of sales training, the program leader must have the capacity to determine the essential needs of the company. At this point, a training manager must demonstrate the ability to take the time needed to comprehend the past, present, and the projected future development of his or her company.

An individual can execute a needs evaluation with comprehensive research, interviews, and distribution of surveys. This will allow the training manager to determine the defining points of the program and identify vital company needs.

A break between existing performance and necessary or optimal performance is known as a training gap. The ideal training program can help organizations determine their deficiencies and better adhere to their obligations in the future.


3. Arrangement in Accordance With Company Goals

When the company’s needs are known, the training manager must organize a plan concentrated on addressing issues within the business and assisting with organizational objectives. When adhering to this approach, employees and managers are far more likely to comprehend the purpose of the sales training as it relates to the prosperity of the organization.

Because no one wants to do something without understanding the purpose behind it, the influence of the training on the company is an important part of an effective sales training program. Establishing and communicating a clear purpose will make all the difference when it comes to inciting motivation and increasing productivity levels.


4. Prioritize Adhering to Consumer Needs

These days, consumers are more skeptical and advanced than ever before, meaning sales professionals and program trainers need to come up with more innovative solutions to being persuasive and selling products. This entails the establishment of high-quality, customizable sales solutions to meet a plethora of consumer’s needs. To flourish in the modern competitive environment, outstanding sales programs teach employees to adjust to a customer-focused perspective, meaning that selling is not simply about prospecting, persuading consumers, and closing a deal. Rather, it is about attending to the needs of consumers as a whole.

The best training programs teach employees to operate based on consumer needs with an approach centered on truly listening to input and providing a program in accordance with those desires. Advanced sales training programs focus on the importance of communication and listening to obtain vital insight into consumer desires and establish the credibility between an organization and its consumers. State of the art training programs will also encourage employees to think of themselves as professional consultants who provide potential clients with ample information and offer solutions to problems the client has yet to encounter.


5. Encourage Expertise

A major element feeding the growing refinement of modern consumers is the easy access they have to research items and solutions themselves. To be successful in this sophisticated environment, sales professionals must understand that potential clients have probably Googled his or her organization prior to the first meeting, along with the organization’s competition. Modern sales training programs must make their employees into experts to adapt to this increasingly advanced environment. The optimal sales training programs will give participants the skills and strategies instrumental to conducting research to gain essential insights into consumer profiles. This will give them the tools they need to properly prepare for business meetings and maintain a confident demeanor when engaging with potential clients.


6. Training Reinforcement

Thriving sales training programs not only teach new sales skills and techniques, they reinforce the lessons over time. Leading sales training programs involve immersive activities throughout the process of training and an intricate aftermath plan to help strengthen the skills taught.

Successful Sales Personnel Share Personality Types

Jeff Cochran


If you could determine the likelihood of a prospective employee to succeed at your company, would you? More companies are turning to assessments like the Meyers-Briggs personality inventory during the interview process to see if an employee will be a good fit. Certain personality types are said to have natural talent for sales. Here are the main personality types that seem to bring sales talent to the table: ESFP

  • Extroverted people like being around others and prefer social interaction to solo time, while introverts prefer to be alone. Extroversion is essential to sales, as people with this trait tend to be outgoing and have natural social skills.


  • A person with a “sensing” focus tend to process information that’s occurring in the moment, and don’t overlook the details. Sensing individuals appreciate the practicality of ideas, while intuitive people appreciate their possibilities.


  • People who are “feeling” make their decisions based on emotions and their value system. Feeling individuals are more likely to consider the feelings of other people, which is essential for sales and negotiations.


  • A perceptive person is flexible and adapts readily to change. The motto of a perceiving person could be “the beauty is in the journey.” A judging person, by contrast, likes the destination over the journey.
  • ENFJs are extroverted and feeling, which seem to be two of the main important traits for sales. These traits imply that candidates are good at social interaction, and they readily show empathy for others. These traits are essential in understanding a person’s wants and needs, and active listening forms the basis for effective negotiation. However, intuitive personality types can also be well-suited for sales. An intuitive personality type appreciates the possibilities of ideas, and he or she can see multiple paths to a favorable outcome. This can be especially beneficial for sales, a discipline that often requires quick thinking.


  • Judging personalities tend to value end goals over the process of achieving them. This, too, can be well-suited for sales. Judging personalities tend to set goals and stick to them, so they can be hard-working members of your team. On the other hand, they may need some training in learning how to adapt to certain situations, as some “judgers” can be rigid in their decision-making process.

Some personality types seem to be better suited than others when it comes to sales success. If you plan on using a Meyer’s Briggs inventory in your hiring process, look for one of these personalities.


6 Things You Should Know About Medical Device Sales Training

Jeff Cochran


Medical device sales are a complex concept by their very nature. Medical devices utilize the latest cutting-edge technology and contain highly technical aspects that a sales representative may have to condense into digestible sound bites. A medical device sales rep must also have some industry expertise and be able to provide intelligent answers to questions. While it would be ideal for each representative to be fully immersed in the multiple aspects of the business, this is rarely feasible. As a result, most trainers have to rely on a set of best practices when it comes to medical device sales training.


  1. Create Short, Easy-to-Digest Modules

Today’s sales reps are highly mobile, which means they can access modules and additional training when they’re in the field. This presents a huge opportunity to maximize productivity, but you can’t squander it. It’s unrealistic, for example, to expect reps to watch hour-long modules while they’re in the field. Instead, medical sales training should be broken into chunks that are easy to digest between sales calls. Scale content in accordance with the devices you use and the amount of downtime your rep has in a given day.


  1. Don’t Skimp on Product Documentation

Medical devices have some of the most demanding standards in the industry. Your sales reps must have exact and in-depth knowledge not only of the products they sell, but the regulations that apply to them. An encyclopedic knowledge of the product is not only invaluable to the sales process, but also in the event a product is subject to recall and you must provide documentation that you followed all the applicable regulations.


  1. Dodge the “Hard Sell”

Medical device sales are unique in that they don’t require a hard sell; in fact, this could come off as condescending. Sales professionals don’t need to harp on the benefits of a given medical device, especially when speaking with members of a health care system. Most of these individuals know what an oxygen monitor does, for example, so medical device sales trainers should teach reps to be aware of this risk.


  1. Be as Honest and Transparent as Possible

Honesty and transparency are essential tenets of any corporate sales training program, but this especially applies to medical sales training. When reps sell high-tech tools such as biotechnology, they can rest assured that their customers are smart, knowledgeable, and capable of seeing through any gimmicks. Medical device sales reps must learn that transparency and honesty play integral roles in getting customers the information they need to make a decision.


  1. Long-Term Training Initiatives

Medical device sales is an industry in which technology can have a short half-life. This means that sales skills and technical expertise can go stale faster than other businesses. While all sales disciplines benefit from ongoing training, this holds especially true for medical device sales training. Medical best practices evolve, technology changes, and the laws and regulations evolve right with them. This makes medical sales training a long-term commitment.


  1. Respect For the Client’s Time

Health care is a busy industry and professionals are often running short on time. Sales reps must make the most of every phone call and presentation, more so than for other fields. While teaching preparation is always important, medical device sales reps must take extra steps to avoid time wasters such as failing to avoid institutional policy.

Medical device sales is a highly specialized discipline, so the training be tailored. Sales reps in this industry must undergo more extensive and technical training than others. This training should be mobile and broken into easy to digest “bites.” It should also address unique product regulations and the importance of documentation. Unlike some other sales disciplines, it should avoid the hard sell and requires frequent refreshers and tune-ups. Medical device sales training is a continuous and long-term effort that requires the help of a professional.

18 Proven Sales Tactics That Work in Any Industry

Jeff Cochran


Developing a strong sales program is the most critical aspect of any business. Without effective sales strategies, companies will not be able to compete and grow. Sales professionals must learn how to implement proven sales tactics that work. These sorts of sales tactics do more than just help them to close individual sales; they help to generate additional prospects for future sales.

As a sales team manager, one of your responsibilities is to provide your team with effective sales training and sales strategies that will increase your company’s profits. Effective sales processes are not just about working hard and putting in long hours. In fact, many sales teams work long and hard without experiencing results.

Effective sales strategies involve employing the best strategies in the right situations. Here are 18 sales tactics that can work for sales teams in every industry.

  1. Be persistent with leads and develop the habit of following up with each customer.

    According to the latest sales research, 80 percent of sales transactions require 5 interactions after the first contact with a customer. Many salespeople are primarily concerned with immediate sales. If they do not get the sale at the first meeting, they silently give up and continue their hunt for the next immediate sale. However, savvy sales professionals understand that they must nurture viable leads until an action is taken. These ‘rock star’ sales professionals send emails, direct mail, make phone calls or send brochures to customers at designated intervals. By taking this action, your customers will think of you when it is time to make their next purchases.

  2. Solve your customers’ problems.

    Successful businesses thrive in competitive industries because they provide solutions to meet their customers’ needs. There are many sales professionals who do not fully understand their roles in the transaction. Consider this fact. As many as 70 percent of your leads are reaching out to you to solve their problems. When customers contact your sales team, your sales professionals must be able to demonstrate to them how they can quickly and easily solve their problems.

  3. Develop the ability to actively listen to customers.

    Customers have access to pages of information on the internet. In many instances, they may be as knowledgeable as your sales team. When sales professionals interact with knowledgeable customers, they might be tempted to talk constantly to show them that they are qualified. It is important to remind your salespeople that they should never get into a knowledge power struggle with customers. Sales professionals should always listen more than they talk. Simply listening to customers’ answers can be one of the most effective sales tactics in your team’s arsenal. They should ask questions that probe into their clients’ thought processes and carefully consider the responses. The goal is to make customers feel as if they are respected throughout the sales process.

  4. Use polite terms when you discuss the competition.

    Your sales team should always strive to present themselves in a positive light and use professional language. There is nothing that screams unprofessional like using derogatory terms to discuss other people or companies. Although customers may participate in the negative conversation, bad mouthing any person or company is never a good sales tactic. If a competitor does not have a good reputation, the members of your sales team should remain neutral.

  5. Earn your referrals before you ask for them.

    Sales professionals know that referrals are the proverbial ‘holy grail’ of marketing. In fact, 91 percent of customers will provide a referral contact to a salesperson that they like. Before you think about asking your customers for referrals, you should focus on providing them with a quality customer service experience. During the transaction, your goal is to develop positive relationships with your customers. After you have determined that they are happy with your services, it is a good idea to pursue the referrals. When it comes to soliciting referrals, timing is important.

  6. Ask for referrals from your customers.

    You might not believe it, but only 11 percent of sales professionals ask clients for referrals. According to this data, the majority of salespeople are leaving money on the table. Most customers are generous, and they would happily share your good customer service with friends, family members and colleagues, but you have to ask. If your sales team waits for their customers to initiate a conversation about referrals, it might never happen. Teach your sales team how to integrate referral conversations into the sales process at the appropriate time.

  7. Adhere to strict deadlines with your customers.

    Sales professionals must create a sense of urgency with customers, or the deals will take much longer than necessary. Changing deadlines according to the whims of each customer makes sales professionals lose credibility. The old adage, where there is a will there is a way, applies here. If customers want to meet the obligations of a transaction by the deadline, they will definitely find a way to make it happen.

  8. Develop relationships with your customers.

    Without customer relationships, it can seem as if you are always in the vicious cycle of trying to ‘drum up’ new business. Your past customers can be an excellent source of new transactions for years to come. When your initial transaction is completed, you do not have to end the relationship at that point. Find creative ways to keep in contact with your customers even after you close the deal.

  9. Identify your customers’ needs and meet them.

    Sales professionals should never lose sight that the only purpose of the sales transaction is to help customers. Since transactions are closely associated with money, it is easy to lose sight of this fact. Create a list of questions that you can use to pinpoint exactly what the customer needs from the transaction. These questions will enable you to save time with customers and get to the heart of the matter. Once customers believe that you understand their predicament, they will work with you to meet their needs.

  10. Be able to distinguish a lead from a customer and act accordingly.

    Brace yourself for this disheartening fact. According to a report by Gleanster Research, only 25 percent of all leads are legitimate and ready to complete a transaction. Leads are potential transactions, and you cannot bank your future on potential. You should categorize your leads and create campaigns to interact with each type. For example, warm leads should have a different marketing strategy than cold calls. Time is a limited resource. It is best to use it wisely.

  11. Solicit targeted leads.

    A difficult lesson for many sales professionals to learn is that every person with a pulse will not be a customer. Since this is the case, sales professionals must create a strategic plan to attract customers that fit their target markets. One way to do this is to make good use of technology to find leads that could use your services. For example, credit professionals who are targeting people who are recovering from bankruptcy can use the public record to find people who fit this profile. Once you have found your potential customers, create a customized sales pitch that will appeal to each demographic.

  12. Learn to uncover each customer’s pain points.

    Television advertisements are known for pushing the viewer’s hot buttons in order to get them to take action. Fear of loss is the most common pain points that advertisers address. The primary mission of every sale professional, as emphasized in our negotiation training courses, is to find a customer’s pain points and use them to their advantage. Ron Shapiro said it best when he stated, “In order to get what you want, help them get what they want.” Sales professionals can start the search for pain points by asking closed-ended questions that only require a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. As the customer begins to feel comfortable, the salesperson should ask open-ended questions that will prompt customers to reveal additional information. Once the vital information is discovered, salespeople can use it to help their customers take action.

  13. Master the art of storytelling.

    When sales professionals meet with customers, they are usually armed with all sorts of facts and data. Although data may seem important, studies suggest that only 5 percent of people remember statistics after a presentation. However, an impressive 63 percent of people remember stories after a presentation. Sales professionals need to arm themselves with stories about relevant experiences of people who have received favorable results after using their products and services.

  14. Stand by your product or service and offer some type of guarantee.

    If your customers are willing to part with their cash, your company should at least be willing to offer a guarantee on the product or service. The guarantee can be a refund or replacement. If you are afraid of most of your customers taking you up on a money back guarantee policy, you should not be. Less than 10 percent of customers return items each year. A product or service guarantee provides your customers with peace of mind that lets them know that they are protected in the event that something goes awry.

  15. Find prospects who want the things you have to sell.

    The best way to navigate through water is to go with the current instead of swimming against it. In sales, going with the current means that if you are selling chicken, your leads are people who like chicken. If your prospects are vegan, then it will be nearly impossible to sell your chicken products to them. If you want to be certain that your clients need the items you are selling, you should pre-qualify them before you actively market to them.

  16. Develop compelling goals and an actionable plan.

    Successful people know where they want to go, and they develop an action plan to help them propel toward their destination. Goal-setting and planning are critical to any sales team’s success. According to a study conducted by Inc. Magazine, sales teams that set goals realized a 28 percent increase in sales. Teaching goal-setting strategies should be a mandatory part of every organization’s corporate sales training manual.

  17. Show customers proof that your product or service actually works.

    When you look at infomercials for weight loss products, they often show ‘before and after’ pictures of previous users of the products. They understand that new customers are motivated by social proof. Sales professionals should keep customer testimonials in a binder or in their laptops to share with customers. When customers are able to view the visible proof, they will be more likely to invest in your product or service.

  18. Maintain a positive mindset.

    This may seem like a no-brainer, but you might be surprised by the number of sales professionals who develop a jaded outlook because of sales slumps. Sales professionals must make every effort to remain positive in good and tough times. Developing a positive attitude has many benefits. Customers can tell when you are not in a good mood, and it will affect the transaction. A positive outlook helps sales professionals look for solutions to pending problems. When your sales professionals are positive, they will be able to handle stressful situations.

The above list isn’t just a collection of interesting tips—these are proven sales strategies that work. In this competitive business environment, sales professionals need to learn all the tricks of the trade in order to close a deal. By using these sales tactics that work, your sales team can learn to thrive in any economic climate.

To learn more about our sales, negotiation, or influence training for your organization please click here.

What Science Can Teach You About Sales

Andres Lares


Selling has traditionally been an area that is conducted based on the instincts of the best salespeople. Not surprisingly, in an era of big data and the ability to analyze techniques on a massive scale, we can learn a lot about what makes those instincts right or wrong. Science can provide some important insights on what makes sales.


Offering Multiple Options

Research has shown that offering a single product for sale leads to about a 10% sales rate. However, offering two products to choose from leads to a 66% sales rate of identical items. The psychology of choosing whether to buy one item assigns a higher level of risk to the purchase. However, when two options are presented, the psychology shifts from asking “Should I buy?” to “Which one should I buy?” Take advantage of this fact to increase sales, but don’t go crazy with it! Too many options to choose from leads to decision paralysis that could kill the sale.


Mirroring Body Language

Regardless of that you are selling, your actual product is trust. Trust in the product, but more important, trust in the person selling the product. Mirroring a customer’s body language creates a subconscious rapport that inspires a feeling of trust that goes beyond the customer’s belief in the product you are selling.

A study in 2009 showed those who mirror their partner’s speech and posture were able to reach agreement 67% of the time, while those who did not only succeeded in reaching an agreement 12.5% of the time. Use this to your advantage by subtly mirroring your customer’s gestures and expressions. Again, be careful that you don’t cross the line to mimicry or come off as insincere. The subtle use of mirroring is what builds a sense of trust.


Relentlessly Improve

Stanford University conducted a study that showed those who have a mindset that they can improve their skills through hard work are more likely to be successful. The top performers have a commitment to relentlessly improve their skills, continuing even after they were at the top of their game. Embrace a way of thinking that sees failure as merely feedback guiding you to a better way of approaching a problem and commit to continuously improving your skills to take your success to the next level.

You may not have been born with the gut instincts of a top performer, but with work and insights from science, you can achieve the results of a top salesperson.

Business Lessons From Elon Musk

Jeff Cochran


Elon Musk has radically disrupted three major industries. Just a few years ago, his plan for SpaceX to land and reuse rockets was deemed impossible by most experts. Tesla’s mission to start a new American car company focused solely on electric vehicles was considered laughable as well. Musk’s plans to dramatically transform the electric storage industry with his Gigafactory was derided as a dangerously risky scheme. Yet despite his vocal critics, Musk is making waves and effecting change.

The principles outlined below that drive Musk’s success can drive yours as well.

Dare to Attempt a Unique Solution

In every business Elon Musk has been involved with, he has brought a vision of a new way of doing things that transformed the industry. It takes courage to do more than talk about thinking outside the box. It is a lot easier to present a slightly different spin on a tried-and-true sales pitch than to dare to try something unique. Great success often comes from those willing to put in the effort demanded to make such ideas succeed.

Align Your Goals with a Higher Purpose

Elon Musk works more hours in a week than many people work in a month. Tesla and Musk’s home power packs factory are driven by his conviction that we must take drastic action to stop pollution. SpaceX was founded on the belief that we must have a sustained presence on Mars to avoid potential disaster on earth. If meeting your sales goals is just a matter of keeping the manager happy or getting a bigger paycheck, those motivations will rarely push anyone to put in the effort needed to be truly successful. When you find the higher purpose in your life and see your sales goals as a way of achieving that purpose, you will find yourself working harder and succeeding more.

Embrace Your Failures

SpaceX’s first three rocket launches ended in disaster, and Tesla almost failed as setbacks mounted. Yet Elon Musk did not just move on from failure. Rather, he openly embraced it and owned up to it. Owning up to failure is a difficult and humbling process. We often experience the most growth because of what we learn from failure. Embrace your failures and make them a part of your success in the future.

While few people have the drive and ingenuity to succeed to the extent Elon Musk has, by drawing from his approach, anyone can enjoy greater success, meet sales goals, and find new ways to expand their business.