People.ai

Sales technique is not something taught in school, it’s learned through experience.

The techniques deployed by your reps were either brought from their previous experience or learned on the job through training and ramp or through sales coaching and mentorship. Ultimately, however, most of this technique is supported with anecdotal evidence, not data.

In this article, we highlight some of the sales techniques that have been derived from the data as well as backed by books written—and practiced—by experts in sales. 

1. Use the Law of Reciprocity During Sales Process

The law of reciprocity is when someone does something in return for a similar act or benefit they’ve received, in other words, people tend to return the favor. It’s like the quid pro quo of sales because as a sales rep, you can use it to your advantage, expecting the gesture to be reciprocated in one way or another.

In Robert Cialdini’s bestselling book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, the law of reciprocity was covered extensively. In one experiment, a professor sent holiday cards to strangers and received many holiday cards in response, proving the theory of reciprocity.

Throughout the sales process, look for opportunities to take advantage of the law of reciprocity and the sense of future obligation it can instill in the minds of prospective customers. For example, when you meet with a prospect (even virtually), offer to buy them a coffee, lunch, or have something delivered before the call.

Reciprocation doesn’t necessarily need to be a physical gift but could be any favor or offer the prospect would find value in. This could be a free consultation or free access to a product, the basic theorem of the freemium model. 

2. Mirror Prospects in Meetings

In negotiations and sales, mirroring the other person’s tone, body language, or even their exact words can be a powerful method to extract information, build trust, and close deals faster. It’s great if you can recite what the prospect said in your own words, but it turns out that reciting in their own words can be even more effective. 

In one study by Richard Wiseman, the average tip of the waiters who mirrored guests was 70 percent more than of those who used only positive reinforcement.

3. Move Fast and Sell Things

Being responsive and showing agility during the sales process can show potential buyers that their requests and needs will be addressed urgently once the deal is won. While it’s pretty obvious that deals worth more take longer to close (i.e. your sales cycle is correlated to ACV) closed-won deals move faster than closed-lost deals. 

This is an important distinction of deals to understand. You can push for more meetings sooner and prioritize responsiveness to emails and calls from prospects further along in the funnel and approaching their expiration date.

Data from thousands of deals ranging from less than $1 thousand to more than $1 million in size indicates that the average deal takes about 150 days to win. As your deals move towards the “Close Chasm,” increase your sense of urgency without putting undue pressure on the prospect.

4. Steer Sales Based on Signal

One technique for selling is to rely on the buying signals, both overt and covert, to guide the sales process. 

Overt buying signals are those that you can recognize in a meeting or on a call, whether it be the tone of voice, inflection, body language, or otherwise, you should be able to get a good sense for how the prospect feels about your product or service. 

Covert buying signals, on the other hand, are those that take place in isolation such as research on a third-party site, exploring your website, or downloading your sell sheet

Deploying ABM strategies can help your team monitor and track prospects displaying covert buying signals. Understanding a prospect’s visit to your site, duration, activity, and more can help you prioritize qualified deals with the most interest from prospects. 

Account-based selling also helps you move towards a multi-threaded sales technique where you can envelope more stakeholders into your deals.

5. Benchmark Techniques Against Performance Data 

Our final sales technique of this article is to incorporate a continuous feedback loop for experimenting with new techniques and benchmarking against actual performance data. If you have a hypothesis for a new sales technique, split test with an experimental group of reps and see how it measures up to the current status quo — the control group. 

You can also work backward from your sales performance data to reveal trends in what drives sales to end in closed-won and closed-lost. Using AI-augmentation from People.ai, these insights are surfaced through real-time machine learning modeling and predictive capabilities. 

In an easy to visualize dashboard, you’ll be able to quickly recognize which techniques are driving deals to closed-won and therefore should be reinforced and coached among your team. 

Tips to Make Sales Techniques Habit Forming

It’s not enough to simply read about these sales techniques — you must incorporate them into your workflow. Here are some tips to turn these sales techniques into habits: 

  1. Reciprocity: Establish a monthly reciprocity budget and measure expenses against it.
  2. Mirroring: Write a personal agenda for every meeting with a mirroring checklist.
  3. Sell Fast: Set automatic notifications for rotting deals, or those that have been idle or open for too long. 
  4. Use Sell Signals: Incorporate an account-based marketing strategy where you can follow leads through the funnel and measure open interest. 
  5. Benchmark: Utilize software to measure the success of new and existing sales techniques against performance data.

Use Tech in Your Sales Techniques

The real winning sales technique in any organization is moving towards a data-driven approach, where results can be deductively credited to certain actions. Once the data has been analyzed retroactively, it can be used proactively to measure leading indicators and guide your sales team to a higher win rate. 
One such technique that sales executives and reps instinctively know, but has more recently been backed by data, is that multi-threaded deals have higher win rates than those with only a single stakeholder. A powerful tool to take advantage of this information is relationship mapping, which allows you to visualize each account and understand where your champions and detractors are.

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