Inside sales refer to the sale of goods or services by remote means, such as a phone call, email, or video chat. The practice is being more common, as 92% of all interactions between salespeople and customers now occur over the phone.
We’ve gotten in touch with inside sales professionals with decades of combined experience to provide us with some of the best sales tactics to develop in the year ahead.
Top Sales Skills To Build
Below, we’ve listed some of the best inside sales techniques, as well as general sales tactics you should pick up, in addition to a few dated methods we think are better off left in the past.
Closing With Greater Urgency
Virtually all seasoned salespeople know what it’s like to close a deal with urgency. To master the art of the urgent close, reiterate the time-sensitive benefit or value proposition that your product offers.
These sales tactics should go beyond pushing a limited-time price offer. Instead, mention how a defined benefit, such as a report automation tool, can help assist with the client’s upcoming annual sales reports.
It’s the salesperson’s job first to sell the value of the solution, and then to hammer home the fact that the value can only be fully realized if the deal closes right away.
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Up Your Urgency Game
Whether you’re in the business of inside sales or outside sales, it’s important that you brush up on sales strategies and sales techniques that reinforce a sense of urgency. For starters, you can make your copy more impactful by using selective language, such as:
- “Selling fast”
- “Only X left in stock”
- “For today only”
- “Now or never”
- “Limited time only”
Using the phrases listed above can help make your sales copy create a heightened sense of urgency and time-sensitivity to drive sales. If you do outside sales, consider dressing in colors that tend to capture attention such as red or orange.
These colors can be used on your website or sales pages to highlight key text or can be worn on your body to build confidence and security prior to meeting with a client.
If you can, illustrate to your prospect that there’s only a limited supply of goods in stock. Emphasizing the scarcity of your product is useful for sales calls or meetings because it elevates the urgency of the prospect’s decision. Don’t hesitate to be ambiguous about the remaining inventory you have if it gives off the impression of scarcity.
Enforce Your Deadlines
Every sales team needs to be strict about their deadlines. An enforced deadline creates a sense of urgency and proves that your time is valuable and cannot be wasted.
Changing a deadline once for a prospect might be acceptable if they’re a qualified lead, but repeatedly shifting around deadlines without a clear answer is a recipe for disaster.
Acknowledge Your Competitors
Your product isn’t the only one on the market. The chances are that your prospect has done extensive research on your product and the various alternatives offered by your competitors.
With the advent of social media and information available at their fingertips, it’s best to assume that your customers know about your competitor’s products and their respective features.
Therefore, it’s a good idea to explain to your prospect why your product’s features are superior to your competitor’s, and how they uniquely benefit the prospect’s operations.
- Looking for an example? Check out our Intercom vs Drift sales letter to help folks decide between us vs. a competitor.
Be Honest and Exercise Humility
Don’t be afraid to say something to a prospect or customer that doesn’t directly help you. Unfortunately, salespeople are some of the least-trusted white collar professionals, with only 3% of survey respondents claiming that sales reps are generally trustworthy. Therefore, it’s incumbent on sales pros to go the extra mile to prove that they can be trusted.
Proving trustworthiness is often easier said than done. However, a simple tactic to build trust and rapport with your prospect or client is to shock them with your transparency.
For instance, if there’s a minor defect or unsavory characteristic with your product, be honest about it and even point it out unprompted. This will help instill trust in you and will demonstrate that you’re willing to go out on a limb and veer off the traditional “sales script” to get them a better deal.
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Don’t Put Afraid to Put Down the Phone
If you’re playing a game of cat-and-mouse with your prospect, sometimes it’s better to give it a rest and not call them back. Instead, let them reach out to you when they’re ready to take the discussion more seriously. Although this tactic won’t work for every salesperson, it’s an important maneuver to keep in your back pocket in case your sixth or seventh phone call proves unproductive.
Don’t immediately assume that your client is ready for the cold shoulder after only one or two failed phone calls or meetings. Instead, ensure that your prospect has enough information to make an informed decision about whether the product or service is right for them.
Unless the prospect understands how your product can fulfill their needs, there’s no chance they’re going to call you back to take your sales conversation to the next step.
Client Not a Perfect Match? Tell Them
Remember what we said about exercising humility and building trust with your prospect. The odds are high that not every prospect will be an ideal match for your product or service. If you find that a customer is not perfectly suited for your product, tell them outright that they aren’t the picture perfect candidate for it.
Make it clear that there are solutions available that can help bend the product to suit their needs better.
One of the most critical sales skills required of sales managers and representatives alike is the ability to build trust through transparency and relatability without going overboard. Although it’s important to point out shortcomings in your product if they’re relevant to your client or prospect’s needs, it’s equally important to not show all your cards and reveal where or how your competitors may be superior.
Sales Techniques You Should Abandon
Here are a few sales tactics that have fallen behind the times and have decreased in their effectiveness.
Selling the Product, Not the Solution
Don’t oversell the product. Instead, focus on the value that the product provides in light of the prospect’s individual needs. If you aren’t concentrating on the value proposition of the product (i.e., the solution), then you’re going to have a hard time earning enough trust from your customer to establish long-term rapport.
Without rapport, there’s no relationship, and without a relationship, you can say goodbye to any chance of future sales.
It’s important to keep in mind that your customer often doesn’t care about the product. Usually, your product doesn’t differ much from that of your competitors. Instead, your customers want a solution to their complex and often ever-evolving problems.
Pushing for a Borderline Deal
If your prospect seems like they’re getting cold feet, don’t prolong the process by pushing hard for a questionable deal. Prospects that delay the closure of a deal know that something’s up and they likely have a valid reason to delay the transaction.
Wasting your limited time of a sales proposal that won’t close may not be in your best interest. Don’t slam through a hasty deal. Instead, take the high road and walk away before a rushed or forced deal negatively affects your reputation.
Moving Too Fast
A successful sales process should move at a natural, unrushed rhythm. With sales, you’ve got to play the long game and not focus on short-term gains at the expense of a solid long-term relationship.
Don’t chase a big deal close in a single phone call—instead, take your time and seek out longer sales processes for prospects who seem like a good fit as a long-term customer.
Building All Your Eggs in the Social Media Basket
In today’s market, social media is extremely important for driving connections and brand awareness—but it’s not the only game in town. Posting regular business-related content to social media isn’t enough to drive most sales quotas.
Don’t lose the forest for the trees. While keeping active on social media, keep in mind the importance of making personal connections and reaching out individually to those in your in-person professional network.
Letting Marketing Generate All Your Leads
A skilled salesperson should count on themselves to generate sales leads. Lead flow can’t be determined exclusively by a marketing department. Instead, it’s the salesperson’s job to network, dish out business cards, and contact lost accounts or prospects to stir up sales conversations. In other words, skilled salespeople have to take responsibility for their own success.
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Becoming Stuck in Your Ways
It’s never too late in your career to learn new tactics or techniques to improve your inside or outside sales game.
Even veteran salespeople can learn new ways to streamline their workflow, pick up prospects, or schedule more efficient meetings simply by shadowing a younger or less-experienced colleague.
Taking a sales training workshop, continuing education course, or spending a workday shadowing your peers can help you replace ineffective habits with better ones.
Getting Hung Up on Rejection
You’re not always going to hit. If you find that you’re losing more deals than usual lately, don’t let it get to your head. It’s inevitable that you won’t close big deals you were expecting, or even hit quotas at every point in your sales career.
Many business psychology experts view acts of rejection as critical learning opportunities that drive self-growth and professional development. You should treat your failures with self-compassion and forgiveness, and as proof that you’re pushing your sales tactics to the limit. If you aren’t failing, then you aren’t pushing yourself out of your comfort zone.
Sales Tactics vs. Sales Strategies
Although sales strategies and tactics often go hand-in-hand, they are distinct concepts that sales reps should familiarize themselves with to improve their sales process. To help streamline your sales operations, we’ve defined what sales strategies and sales tactics are below and highlighted their respective differences.
Definition of Sales Strategies
Sales strategies precede tactics. In other words, the sales strategy is the overall game plan that tactics put into action. Your sales strategy should always address the fundamental questions, “what if” and “for what?” Therefore, your sales strategy must provide clear objectives, contingency plans for alternatives outcomes, and should provide relevant information to guide sales professionals through their prospecting and sales experience.
Definition of Sales Tactics
A sales team deploys sales tactics to carry out its overarching sales strategy. Sales tactics are the on-the-ground maneuvers and operations that sales agents use to generate leads and deliver key messages to customers and prospects. Typically, sales tactics are what are commonly referred to as “sales” writ large.
Making cold calls, for example, constitutes a sales tactic. Additionally, creating a website promoting a new product line or limited-time offer is also a selling tactic that is used to fulfill a sales strategy. In short, sales tactics are about messaging, communication, and generating leads.
Key Differences Between Tactics and Strategies
There are a few critical differences that set sales tactics apart from strategies. For instance, strategies are almost always devised by senior management-level employees such as directors.
However, tactics are deployed by larger teams that often consist of individual contractors and diverse marketing and sales personnel such as freelance web designers, graphic artists, copywriters, and business development representatives.
Sales strategies are essential to the long-term success of a company. Without an effective strategy, tactics such as sales scripts, sales conversations, and sales pitches won’t make a lasting difference in the viability of a company or product.
Ultimately, it’s the strategy-level management of the sales process that determines long-term success in sales.
Conclusion & Next Steps
There’s one habit that’s consistently practiced among highly successful salespeople: they’re always striving to up their game, and to learn new sales tactics.
In the year ahead, try incorporating a few of these tried-and-true sales tactics into your strategy while leaving less-effective habits and tactics in the past.
Adding these to your repertoire will help you overcome failure and build trust and rapport with clients to drive long-term sales.
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