Before the internet, sales training was somewhat of a niche market. Once blogs and social media became mainstream, however, there was no longer a shortage of sales advice, for better or worse.
One of the most interesting bits of advice to emerge from the sales trainer renaissance has been the idea of a sales hack: a “trick” that, when implemented, could practically guarantee that a prospect would agree to buy whatever it is you were selling.
Sales hacks, however, are mostly a myth, and usually don’t work in practice. And while there aren’t any simple tricks that can make you a top performer overnight, the following tips, if you want to consider them hacks, are the ones that will actually get results:
1. Sell to the right people
Screening prospects effectively is one of the best ways to maximize your time. Instead of selling indiscriminately, make sure to ask questions up front to ensure that your prospect is qualified and has interest. Too many salespeople are afraid to take steps to weed out unqualified buyers, but that fear can cost you time, money, and lots of frustration.
Becoming an excellent listener is one of the best sales hacks of all, and it’s surprisingly difficult in our fast-paced, low-attention world. By learning how to listen, salespeople make the prospect feel heard (and important), and also create an opportunity for the prospect to paint a picture of exactly what it will take to earn their business.
3. Understand the buyer’s problems/needs
Listening is difficult, but truly understanding what you’re listening to is even harder. When speaking with a prospect, pay special attention when they explain their problems and what they’re looking for. In fact, try to put yourself in their shoes to gain a true understanding of their situation. If you spend most of your time thinking about what you’re offering and why you need somebody to buy your product, you’ll never get as far as you will when you pretend that the roles have been reversed.
4. Build relationships
One of the best hacks is not a hack at all: building a relationship. Things have, of course, changed, and most salespeople aren’t taking their prospects out to ballgames or fancy restaurants to earn their business these days. But the fundamentals remain the same; a relationship built on trust can make up for a higher price, and sometimes even an inferior product. Strive to go beyond the transactional, and to truly connect with your prospects. It’s not always easy, but it will usually ensure success.
5. Strike while the iron is hot
“Always be closing,” is silly advice, but so is taking things too slow. A successful salesperson can read the situation, and if a prospect expresses interest, they won’t hesitate to ask for the business, whether it’s early in the process or not. The fact is, different people buy differently, and not everybody needs weeks or months to make a decision. Learn how to read people and never be afraid to ask for the business. After all, fortune favors the bold.
6. Be consistent
Sales is a marathon, but too many of us are sprinters — going from feast to famine with each new month or quarter. Consistency in effort is one of the most difficult things to master, especially because a consistent input doesn’t always translate to a consistent outcome. There is, however, no other choice if you want to become your best. Put your blinders on, show up everyday and work hard, and over time, you’ll see your baseline results start to improve. Before you know it, you’ll become the salesperson you know you can be.