Some sales secrets never go out of style. If you are looking for sales tips and tricks to help you get ahead in 2021, there are some tried and true words of sales wisdom that are still very useful today. Plus, in the current ever-evolving digital landscape of business, sales technology becomes part of the mix of effective tips for reps.
In this article, we’ve pulled together some of the best sales tips to help you stay ahead of the competition, broken down by category of use case. Some may seem simple, but they are shockingly effective! Read on to see which techniques you can take action on today.
Inside Sales Tips
Tip #1: Capitalize on the Best Times to Call
As you know, with inside sales, trying to connect with your prospects and customers over the phone proves to be one of the most challenging aspects of the job. To increase your effectiveness in this, focus on using your time wisely. This means capitalizing on the days and times of day that data has proven to have the highest chance of your prospect picking up the phone.
According to a study by Salesmate, Wednesday is the best day to call, and between 4pm and 5pm is the block of time with the highest probability of answer. Strategize your calling efforts and focus on the most important/high value targets at the best times.
Tip #2: Know When to Pause While Pitching
With inside sales and selling over the phone, you do not have the opportunity to gauge your prospect by their body language and time your pitch. While talking with your prospect on the call, it can sometimes be very tempting to fill a void of silence by listing more features or value propositions of your offering. After all, studies show that on average, people spend 60% of their conversations talking about themselves.
So, one of the most valuable inside sales tips, which may sound incredibly simple, is to listen. Stop talking and really listen to your prospects and customers.
Specifically, it is important to know when to pause while you are going through your pitch and let it sink in for your prospect. Listen for their concerns, their needs, and take the time to ask open-ended questions. Let them feel that you are truly interested in meeting their needs. Doing this will help you close more deals and create a stronger customer relationship for the long term.
Tip #3: Stick to a Schedule When Remote Selling
The sales environment through most of 2020 and into the start of 2021 looks much different than in the past, with many inside sales teams switching to a remote sales environment. Working from home can bring a new set of challenges when you are not used to it. One of these is a sense of added flexibility during the day.
Working inside sales, especially on a team, much of your day is structured the minute you step into the office. This promotes an environment of maximizing productivity. As a remote sales rep, continuing on a set schedule will often be the difference between failure and exceptional effectiveness.
If you’re working remotely for the very first time, it can be tempting to slide more flexibility into your schedule. Especially since you’re not physically surrounded by your teammates who are all on the same schedule. But this quickly becomes a highly inefficient way to work.
So, set a defined yet manageable daily schedule and stick to it. Before your day begins, establish when you will be starting, plan your breaks, and pinpoint when you’ll sign off for the day. Your productivity and sales numbers will thank you.
Outside Sales Tips
Tip #1: Automate Daily Administrative Tasks
There’s a scary statistic out there that only 36% of the average salesperson’s day is spent selling. This is mainly due to the amount of tedious and time-consuming administrative/data entry tasks that have to be done daily. While that number seems pretty bleak, it also means that if you automate those non-selling tasks away, you can have up to 300X more time selling without changing any other habits.
While both inside and outside sales reps have to deal with daily administrative duties and can benefit from sales automation, outside field sales reps are already at a time disadvantage when you factor in travel time to each prospect or customer. So, utilizing automation as an outside sales rep can free up a significant amount of time for you to focus on closing more deals.
So, embrace automation technology to save time, money, and headache. You can utilize tools to automate all kinds of everyday sales tasks. Everything from data entry to prospecting to route planning and more.
Tip #2: Get Confident With Your Pitch
You won’t ever have the perfect pitch. If there was a formula you could read out loud and close any deal, then most of us would be out of a job. The truth is, the “right” pitch for one given situation will never be the “right” pitch for another.
So, rather than aiming perfection, aim for confidence.
This is especially important in outside sales where you are meeting prospects face to face. Coming across confident in what you are saying will show, and might just be what helps your prospect trust in what you are saying. Instead of memorizing a spiel from beginning to end, get to know your offering inside and out. Understand the benefits it offers to your customers so you can capitalize on their unique needs.
One specific tip for staying confident is knowing that you can utilize a powerful close, no matter where your pitch has taken you. For that, study empathy-driven sale closing techniques and have a few go-to options in your pocket.
Tip #3: Truly Understand Your Product
A big part of being confident in the field is truly understanding your product or service better than anyone else. To be as effective as possible, it won’t be enough to just know the name of your product, a few features, and some tag-lines the marketing department gave you.
You need to drill down deeper and familiarize yourself with specifications, metrics, and value-adds that separate your offerings from those of your competitors. If you are selling tangible products, don’t be afraid to reach out and talk to people in your company’s product development, engineering, or even assembly departments to get an even deeper view before you head out on the road.
Knowing your product or service inside and out will also enable you to more effectively sell solutions that truly meet the needs of each of your prospects. (See more on solution-selling below)
Closing Sales Tips
Tip #1: Perfect Your Follow-Up Routine
Did you know, studies have found that 80% of sales require five follow-ups after the initial point of contact… but 44% of salespeople give up after only one follow-up?
To consistently close deals, you are going to need to be checking in on your prospects and customers regularly with follow-ups. Follow-ups, simply put, are anytime you check back in with a prospect after your last communication. It can be an email nudge, a reminder phone call, an in-person coffee, or even sharing a new piece of content that you think would be valuable to them—whatever it takes to stay on your prospects’ radar.
If it seems overly simple… it’s because it is! By just making the effort, you put yourself head and shoulders above the competition and increase your chances of closing deals.
Tip #2: Focus on Closing the Right Leads
Effective prospecting leads to better chances of closing. (See more on this below) Not all leads are created equal—and not everybody at a target company can actually make the big decisions. Close more deals faster by focusing your energy on only those companies and people that are an excellent fit for your product or service.
Similarly, it takes a lot of time, energy, and money to pitch seven individual people at a target company when you could’ve just pitched one. Ask for the gatekeeper or decision-maker early in your communications to streamline your efforts—that way, you will be able to close a sale and not just get passed up the food chain.
Targeting a specific person within a specific niche allows you to really dig into pain points and needs unique to their situation, make them feel like your offering was tailored just for them, and sell more effectively.
Tip #3: Be a Sales Consultant — Not Just a Salesperson
It is important to understand that solutions sell. You want to sell benefits, not just features—that is, you don’t sell the drill, you sell the hole in the wall. Incorporate this concept into your entire sales cycle by thinking of yourself as a sales consultant rather than a salesperson and provide solutions that truly benefit your prospect.
Instead of just pushing products at people, when you become a consultant, you become all about helping customers find solutions to achieve the results they want and need.
To gauge how well you are doing this, keep track of KPIs that are not just related to usual sales data. For example, consider measuring customer happiness and success through data like:
- Customer business growth
- Percentage of repeat customers
- Excellent testimonials
Sales Prospecting Tips
Tip #1: Leave Effective Voicemails
Cold calling can be one of the toughest parts of the prospecting process. Especially when you consider the fact that cold calls result in a voicemail over 90% of the time on average. It is rare that a prospect actually picks up the phone, especially on the first contact attempt. This is where mastering the art of leaving an effective voicemail becomes so valuable.
The goal is not to immediately start selling in your message. You want to pique your prospect’s interest enough to call you back for more. This should be done concisely (20 seconds or less) and in an upbeat manner. Ideally, your prospect will be excited to call you back.
Try out a couple of different strategies/scripts and then keep track of what works the best. Even if that is several of them. Utilizing call tracking software can help you do this and you can even use some of these tools to automate your voicemails.
Tip #2: Utilize Your Current Customers
Acquiring new customers costs your business somewhere between 5 and 25 times more money than selling to established ones. In several ways, your current customers are one of your most valuable aspects when it comes to prospecting and selling. This is where you will generate the vast majority of your revenue. As the Pareto Principle says, 80% of your revenue will come from 20% of your customers.
One of the ways your current customers can be so valuable is through upselling and cross-sell opportunities. Upselling is when you get a client to upgrade their purchase for a more premium (and expensive) offering. Cross-selling is when you get a client to add-on a complimentary purchase for an additional cost.
Upselling and cross-selling are both effective because the labor of convincing the client to trust you and invest their money in your offering is already done—they’ve already committed. The trick here is to think critically about what upsells and cross-sells are going to be appealing, realistic, and beneficial to your clients. Effective upsells and cross-sells follow the logic of the customer’s intent behind their purchase.
Your current customers can also be a great source of new prospects through referrals. If you have become a trusted consultant to your client and have provided them a valuable solution, they will often happily do much of the selling to their network for you. Especially other people who may have the same type of needs they did.
Tip #3: Utilize the Power of Social Selling
One thing that is becoming more and more evident in today’s sales environment, social selling works, especially for B2B selling, and it’s here to stay. This is due in large part to LinkedIn and other professional networks.
Through LinkedIn, you can leverage the power of your network to pinpoint more qualified prospects, foster relationships, and start meaningful conversations that can generate an increase in the number of closed deals.
This sales tactic can be a very powerful lead-generating tool, helping to improve your sales prospecting process while reducing time-intensive cold calling. You can passively bring targeted leads directly to your inbox by regularly showing up on social platforms and positioning yourself as an industry expert.
Sales Effectiveness Tips
Tip #1: Set SMART Sales Goals
Establishing defined goals helps sales reps continue to focus on success. But, setting the right type of goals is a very important aspect of this. You always want to set intelligent sales goals for yourself. To do that, your objectives need to be SMART. That is:
- Specific - The goal has a specific number to reach. For example, instead of saying “sell more,” you’re saying “sell x-amount more than last quarter.”
- Measurable - The goal is reasonably quantifiable. For example, “make customers happier” is not measurable while “increase repeat business” is.
- Attainable - The goal is realistic. Of course, push yourself, but make sure the goal is reasonable enough that you feel motivated to pursue it.
- Relevant - The goal matters to your business and also aligns with your customers’ goals, wants, and needs.
- Time-based - The goal has a defined deadline. As a salesperson, you know what a great motivator urgency is—so give yourself some!
Tip #2: Practice Time Management Skills
Time is money. We already talked about the importance of automating daily tasks, but automation aside, there are dozens of ways you can save time throughout your day.
Time management skills are one of those things that we tend to assume will be intuitive or obvious but isn’t. Odds are good that you’re losing precious minutes in places throughout your day that you don’t even realize. The secret to time management is not cramming even more tasks into your day, but using the time you do have more efficiently. If you’re doing it right, you should end each day with more energy—not less.
Try working in one or two time management techniques at a time and see how they go for you!
Tip #3: Embrace Email Best Practices (and Templates)
You don’t need to reinvent the wheel with every single email message. Fall back on handy email templates and then customize them as needed to fit your current situation and recipient. Whether that is referencing their transaction history, discussing past conversations, etc.
Also, having a working knowledge of email best practices will take you a long way. For example, did you know that personalized subject lines (even for promotional emails) have a 29% higher unique open rate and a 41% higher unique open rate than non-personalized ones?
Another great way to email better is to keep your emails tight. Show your recipients that you respect their time by taking an extra moment to make your email concise. Hubspot reported that emails between only 50 and 125 words had the highest response rate at 50%. One great way to do this is to always strive to put the most important information first.
Tip #4: Try Out New Technologies (But Don’t Force It)
There are tons of incredible applications and software out there to help you stay organized, become more efficient, and maximize your sales. Don’t be afraid to try them!
A variety of awesome technology is now available to help sales reps and management with everything under the sun, like:
- Expense management
- Customer management
- Sales data analysis
- Time management
- Social media marketing
- Email automation
- Route mapping
Try out different tools and technology but be careful not to overdo it. You don’t want to overwhelm yourself with too many different tools all at once. Only adopt the tools you really need.
Similarly, you’re always going to see write-ups about new sales techniques, like different closing strategies or pitch materials. Let yourself try new things in these instances too. When you are open to an environment of experimentation rather than rigid tradition, you give yourself a chance to find awesome things that work more effectively.
Utilize Proven Sales Tips To Increase Your Success
As you can see, there are some tried and true sales tips and tricks that are still valuable today. As well as new things that have proven effective in today’s digital environment. Even though we separated the tips, many of them can be applicable across several of the categories.
Help yourself get ahead by implementing some of the things we’ve covered today. Being open to new techniques and tools can help you optimize your sales effectiveness and have you closing more deals. Remember, above all else, utilize the technology available to you, think of how you can truly help your customers, and prioritize effectively focusing your resources!