5 Tips to Improving Your “Sales Game”

by Joe Sesso on May 31, 2018

In my last blog post, I discussed the connection between sports and sales, and how athletes and salespeople share more than a few things in common when it comes to their profession. But one area where athletes excel is at practice, where they have the opportunity to “work on their game.” While salespeople acknowledge the importance of practice in sports, they don’t put much value in practicing their own profession and working on “their game.” What’s crazy is that many salespeople make the same mistakes over and over again because they ignore their play-by-play review of previous sales calls. The very best salespeople learn from their mistakes, and work hard on and off the phone at being the best salespeople they can be through practice, review, research and application. So what can you do to work on your game? Here are 5 tips that will improve your sales performance by leaps and bounds.

  1. Use a sales script: Scripts are essential to sales success, yet I’m shocked at how few salespeople actually use them. The reasons why they don’t vary, but the main one is that they feel that they believe that scripts are for amateurs and that a professional shouldn’t need one. Wrong! Using a script will keep you on point with your message, ensure that you will not forget the various features and benefits of your product/service, and help you avoid the use of filler words and other statements that can derail your sales presentation. If your company offers scripts, use them. If they don’t, write your own script that includes all of the key components to a successful presentation, such as a co-brand, a key statistic about your company, features and benefits of your product/service, and a trial and slot close. What if you’re on outside salesperson that closes deals face-to-face? Obviously you won’t be reading from a script in front of the customer, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t use one. Practice your script over and over and record yourself giving a presentation. This way you can review your performance and improve where needed. The more you practice, the better you’ll be when it’s game time!
  2. Know the Difference between a Feature and a Benefit: In his bestselling book The Conversion Code, Chris Smith says that the difference between average salespeople and great salespeople is that great salespeople use both Features and Benefits (along with a tie down question) when presenting their product/service whereas average salespeople only discuss features without describing the benefit to the customer. A feature is what your product does. A benefit is how your product or service can help the customer. For example, you might buy a new car with anti-lock brakes. That’s the feature. Don’t assume that the customer knows what anti-lock brakes are. The benefit of having anti-lock brakes is that they won’t lock up if you have to slam on your brakes, thus greatly reducing your risk of an accident. Another benefit is that having them on your car will lower your insurance premium. Do you see the difference? Go over the products and services that you sell. Identify the Features for each one and then think about how these features can help the customer. Those would be the benefits. Once you come up with about 4-5 features and benefits for your product, be sure to infuse them into your sales script.
  3. Prospect with Intent: Most salespeople hate cold calls, but yet they refuse to spend a couple of minutes learning a thing or two about the person they are about to call? This makes no sense to me. If I can find even one thing that I have in common with my prospect (same university, interests, etc.) it will greatly improve my chances of building a solid rapport with them. We have a saying at our office that is hanging from the ceiling. It reads, “Make a friend, make a sale.” If I can build a rapport with a prospect, they will like me. If they like me, they can trust me. If they can trust me, they will buy from me. Facebook, Google, Linked IN and other social media and search sites make it easier than ever today to quickly learn about somebody or their company. Knowing something about the person you are calling can help you uncover pain points, business needs and common interests that can help build your business relationship with them. This is how you truly get to zero cold calls.
  4. Overcome Objections: If you really thought hard about the objections you receive on a daily basis, I bet there are about 10 that you hear 85% of the time. If you could come up with solid rebuttals to those 10 objections, you would greatly increase your chances of closing the deal. Most salespeople give up too easy or they don’t know what to say when they hear an objection. Break up your rebuttal into 3 parts:
    1. Acknowledge the objection: repeat the objection back to them to verify that this is indeed their objection
    2. Respond: You might ask them to tell you more about their objection or you can empathize with them here, followed by a reason why they should move forward. “I understand. I always ask for the price right away as well. But we have many different solutions that can help our customers with their business, which is why I need to learn a bit more about your business before I can give you an accurate price.”
    3. Pivot/Close: You will pivot if you are in the early stage of a call (using the above situation: “So tell me, what is the size of your average sale?”) and close if you are in the later stages (after the demo).
  5. Assume the close: It never ceases to amaze me. A salesperson executes a great demo but they fumble the close because they get nervous or unsure of what to say. They end up saying something like, “So what do you think?” This is not a confident close. If you want to improve your closing ratio try this: At the conclusion of your demo, don’t ask them what they think. Tell them the next steps. Tell them how the onboarding process works and how your team will be there to support them all the way. Then ask them for a day and time that works best for them to secure the onboarding appointment. This is your trial close. If they give you a date, they are ready to buy. Then come in with your slot close. “So will that be debit or credit?” Do you see the difference. I never asked for the sale here. Once I created the value for them, I helped them take action. This makes all the difference in the world.

So now do you see how you can work on your sales game? Practice the five tips listed above. They may be uncomfortable to you at first, because they are new and you are not used to using them in your presentation. That’s why you have to practice so that you can work them into your presentation. It’s like the old saying goes, “you get out what you put in.” If you put the time in and work on your sales game, you will be more successful than you ever have been. The best salespeople use the techniques listed above. Average salespeople don’t (or don’t use them correctly).


Joe Sesso is the Executive Sales Director and National Speaker for Homes.com and is the author of the best-selling book, Secrets of Top Selling Agents.

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