The best sales techniques to use in non-sales roles

07 January 2020 -

Business meetingSales techniques aren’t just for salespeople. Whatever role you’re in, by carefully deploying ‘sales techniques’ you could boost your chances of success

Mark Rowland

Whether you’ve worked in sales or not, there’s a lot you can learn from common sales techniques. Good sales is all about human psychology – understanding how people respond to certain questions or actions – which is useful when developing your influencing skills. These widely used sales techniques can create an image of confidence, push you to think on your feet, and help you to communicate with a range of people in different styles – by transferring these techniques and practices to your own working life, you could find that your people and persuasion skills improve dramatically.

Consultative selling

Consultative selling is about spending time with customers to identify their needs and offering solutions in order to meet that need. It’s about building a lasting, trusting relationship that develops over time. This is useful when persuading team members to embrace change, or pitching a new idea to your superiors. It’s also useful when negotiating your salary. It’s an emotionally intelligent approach to sales that puts all the focus on helping another person, rather than meeting your own sales quota.

To apply this technique, you need to do a bit of preparation first. Who is your target audience? Your team? Your superiors? People outside of the organisation? What’s driving them? What problems might they have? How are you solving, or have you solved, those problems? Think about how that audience communicates – if they’re very numbers-focused, for example, make sure you bring data and figures into the conversation.

Once in the room with your audience, make sure you aren’t just presenting at them – it should be a two-way conversation. Ask lots of questions to get them talking about their needs. The focus should be on helping them. If they raise objections, ask more questions. ‘What do you think could make it work?’ or ‘How about we try it on a smaller scale, and see how it goes?’

If you don’t get a definitive answer then, arrange a follow-up meeting. You can then take time to offer solutions or responses to any hesitations.

If you’d like to find out more, there’s an excellent paper by Philip Atkinson called Selling yourself magically: persuasion strategies for personal and organisational change (available to CMI members through ManagementDirect). It’s well worth checking it out. In it, Atkinson describes consultative selling like this: “This activity is about the needs and wants of the clients - so keep quiet, and focus all your attention on the client. Persuading is about listening and refining differences - listening to concerns and objections and then dealing realistically with them. If you have done a good job in building rapport, then this stage of questioning is a natural follow on.”

Put the customer/colleague first

Salespeople are trained to treat each customer as if they’re the most important person in their customer base. This can easily apply to your colleagues or team members. If you take the time to really get to know everyone on your team, you’re likely to have a more engaged team. You might like some more than others, but don’t let that be known – treat everyone as if they’re your favourite. That positivity and interest will result in better work, and greater influence from you. The same goes when managing up – take a real interest in your superiors, and they’ll be more open and amenable with you.

Quick responses

A study by Velocify found that a person contacted within three minutes of making an enquiry increased their chances of converting by 98%, compared with 17% if they were contacted 24 hours after making the query. If they received a call within a minute, the chance of them converting increased by 391%. That’s why those chat helpers pop up so quickly when you start trawling around most websites.

The lesson here, whatever role you’re in, is: it pays to respond swiftly. That’s true of any issue or query you might get in your day-to-day work. If they’re responding to an idea of yours, go back to them immediately with the answer to their questions. The closer your idea, issue or pitch is to that person’s front of mind when you speak to them, the more amenable they’re likely to me to hearing you out.

There are some great, exclusive resources on ManagementDirect. Karen Hough’s video called ‘It’s not what you say’ gives a quick reminder of the impact that great body language and voice modulation can make. Here’s Karen showing how it’s done…

For more insight into your colleagues’ body language, read our tips on how to give and give metacommunication cues.

Image: Shutterstock

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