What are Sales Techniques?

To become a true champion of your sales team, a deep understanding of a wide range of sales techniques is necessary. Sales is an art and a science. As a result, the best salespeople can balance a combination of skills, including both the human, emotional side of selling and more data-driven, science-backed techniques.

When we look at the most successful members of our sales team – what do we see? Perhaps they're exceeding their sales targets quarter on quarter. Are their email click-throughs sky-high? Maybe they seem to have an instinctive rapport with all prospects?

sales technique

Great people skills are a vital component here – after all, without a truly empathetic understanding of the prospect, success will always be limited. Don't underestimate the ability to sympathize and connect with your potential customers – only 13% of customers believe a salesperson can understand their needs. Find a way of connecting more authentically, and you'll increase your effectiveness exponentially.

What makes a successful salesperson?

Scratch the surface of these sales superstars a little deeper, beyond the charisma, and you're likely to find the same distinguishing trait – consistency—a set of well-honed, familiar and successful sales techniques, helping them win time and time again.

What exactly is meant by the term sales techniques? Quite simply, the tried and tested strategies used to get sales safely over the line. By coming up with a winning formula here, you'll see sales closing quickly and start to build up not only commissions but also confidence. 

Taking time to teach and learn these selling techniques pays off. More than two-thirds of companies that invest in sales learning and development technology achieve a positive ROI. According to the State Of Sales report, "top performers differ from their peers in the usage of sales tech and in reliance on data."

We're witnessing a shift towards more advanced sales techniques, and there's never been a better time to hone your own set of sales skills.

Understanding Key B2B Sales Techniques

 

As you'd expect, the particular set of selling techniques needed to achieve successful B2B sales differs from a commercial B2C audience. Some of the key factors that support solid B2B sales techniques include:

Accurate identification of the decision-maker.

This may be more opaque when selling to a business. In a typical firm with 100 to 500 employees, an average of seven people is involved in most buying decisions.

The nurturing of longer relationships.

Typically a longer sales process can be expected when selling B2B. As a result, salespeople need to apply sales techniques that establish and maintain a strong connection with the prospect.

You understand the unique motivation of your buyer.

Research shows that more than 70% of B2B buyers fully define their needs before engaging with a sales representative. Almost 50% identify specific solutions before actively reaching out to a rep.

Understanding B2C Sales Techniques

 

When selling directly to the potential consumer, a different set of sales techniques is required because it typically revolves around a shorter sales cycle. Some of the most helpful B2C sales techniques include:

Creating an emotional response

You're aiming to leverage techniques that lean on a more emotional connection with your product, encourage a more spontaneous sale in the short term, and increase brand loyalty and referrals in the longer term.

Targeting a wider audience

Typically when making cold calls in B2C, your source pool is much wider – you're looking to sell to a bigger, less specialized audience than if you were selling a particular B2C solution.

Keeping sales cycles short and efficient

B2C buyers are much more fickle than their B2B counterparts – you need to be persuasive in the short term, to convince them away from a competitor or to stop them running to one!

Key Differences: B2C and B2B Sales Techniques

b2c and b2b sales techniques

What is Science-based Selling?

 

Science-based selling combines a number of modern, scientific disciplines to apply a rigorous and data-driven approach to successful selling techniques and strategies.

Neuroscience, social psychology and behavioral economics all combine to supercharge the performance of the salesperson, as a result of a much deeper and more accurate understanding the most important element of the process – the buyer themselves.

What might some of these techniques look like? How about knowing the perfect window of time in which to contact your lead? Research by Lead Response Management found that you are 100 times more likely to succeed if you contact a lead if you respond within 5 minutes, and 21 times more likely to qualify that lead!

Do you currently bad mouth the competition? Science says you should stop! More specifically, the phenomenon of spontaneous trait transference suggests that we are perceived as possessing the very traits that we describe in others!

These are just a couple of examples of science-based selling techniques. As new research is being conducted and published every day, this is an area in which all salespeople should stay engaged and connected - the opportunity is proven, significant and always increasing!

4 Approaches to Selling Techniques

 

When it comes to how your team approaches their sales strategy, you can consider a range of different approaches. The best selling technique for your business will be dependent upon a range of unique factors 

  • Who are you selling to
  • How are your competitors selling
  • What is the average sales cycle for your particular product

1. Traditional Selling

They are commonly applied to B2C businesses, low-value items, impulsive purchases.

Traditional selling gets a hard rap. When we think of the phrase "salesperson" or "sales," it's likely that many minds go immediately to this form of high-pressure sales tactics.

Traditional selling is often thought of as the "hard sell" sales pitch. Pressure is applied, and the buyer often ends up feeling coerced into their purchase. What else helps to define traditional selling?

  • A focus on the product and less so on the needs of the buyer
  • Cold outreach – typically via unsolicited calls, emails, etc
  • A scripted, more generic approach applied to high volume outbound reach
sales techniques

Perhaps the biggest issue with traditional sales techniques is the fact that your customers have seen it all before. While they may be familiar with this approach, it doesn't mean they'll appreciate it, and as a result, you may be met with a defensive response.


2. Consultative Selling

Commonly applied to: B2B Businesses, service or solution-based industries. 

If the focus on traditional selling is the product, consultative selling flips this approach on its head. A consultative sales technique is tuned towards collaborating with customers and showing empathy towards their specific needs.

Some of the core selling techniques associated with consultative selling involve 

  • Connection (setting the tone of the sales call or meeting to build credibility)
  • Understanding (actively listening to the buyer's problem)
  • Recommendation (the ability to confidently position your product as the perfect solution to their issue.)
sales techniques

3. Soft Selling

Commonly applied to: B2C and B2B Businesses, brand retailers, heritage brands.

While consultative selling places a strong focus on the relationship between the salesperson and the buyer, soft-selling sees a much more "back seat" approach. The focus is to build trust. The art of the soft sell lies in its subtlety. Instead of actively pursuing your prospect, all pressure is taken off.

Techniques that work well for businesses putting soft selling into action include letting existing clients do some of the selling for you via the smart use of testimonials. Sales pitches are simply conversations. Stories are told through engaging case studies. Relationships are developed slowly and organically.

Crucially, much of the "hard work" of this sales technique lies in the background research. While soft selling appears to be an extremely hands-off approach on the surface, the secret of its success lies in knowing exactly what will appeal to your ideal customer and making sure they stumble upon it organically.

soft selling sales technique

 Stories are told through engaging case studies. Relationships are developed slowly and organically.

Crucially, much of the "hard work" of this sales technique lies in the background research. While soft selling appears to be an extremely hands-off approach on the surface, the secret of its success lies in knowing exactly what will appeal to your ideal customer and making sure they stumble upon it organically.

 

4. Value Selling

Commonly applied to: B2B businesses, professional solutions, SaaS products.

In terms of focus, value selling walks a fine line between focus on customer and product.

This particular sales approach is about more than pushing the value of your solution.

A good salesperson leveraging this particular technique will also help the buyer recognize the value that lies in solving their problem (or the consequence of not resolving it!)

value selling technique

When employing a value selling approach, you're looking to add value at every touchpoint, from the first email through to even the shortest of telephone conversations. Interactions should be purposeful and productive - each one should have a tangible impact and be mutually beneficial. This means having clear answers to questions that help buyers come to an informed decision efficiently.

Typically, the buyer who'll benefit from a value selling approach is a busy decision-maker who needs to see real results and ROI. They're focused on the equation of "resources in / value out," so this type of practical, results-focused selling can prove highly appealing if applied in the right circumstances. 

5 Key Types of Sales Methods

Beyond the four main sales approaches outlined above, many more nuanced and specific methods exist, and these can help to provide a helpful framework for sales professionals seeking to build up their own range of successful sales techniques.

SPIN Selling

 

This particular method is based upon Neil Rackham's 1988 iconic sales book, Spin Selling. You can typically integrate some of the principles of SPIN selling alongside an existing sales process, as the strategy primarily focuses on the introduction of carefully considered questions.

SPIN is an acronym applying to the four steps of this questioning sequence: situation, problem, implication, need a payoff. At each stage of this process, the buyer is asked specific questions that help them relate their own situation more closely to the solutions being presented and help in decision-making. For example, at the "Situation" stage, a salesperson may ask questions such as, "Which solution are you currently using? Is there anything about it that frustrates you or slows you down?"

spin selling technique

2. Sandler Sales

This method is based upon the Sandler Selling System, developed by David Sandler in 1967. The system is popular and when you look at the statistics they boast, you get an idea of why this might be: 50% more salespeople hit quotas than those without Sandler and 88% of salespeople said their sales strategy improved.

The method places emphasis on creating trust between buyer and seller. It puts the sales rep into the role of an advisor, focusing on identifying any roadblocks that might come up in the qualification stage.

The full process comprises seven steps:

  • Bonding and rapport building
  • Up-front contracts
  • Pain
  • Budget decision
  • Fulfilment
  • Post-sell

Each stage strengthens the relationship as well as building up the level of perceived qualification, leading to successful sales closures.

sandler sales technique

3. Aida Selling

The AIDA selling technique is over 120 years old. Developed in 1898 by advertising pioneer E. St. Elmo Lewis, the acronym stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action. The fact that many successful salespeople still keep this method at the forefront of their minds is a testament to its simplicity and effectiveness.

By breaking the sales process down into four distinct stages, AIDA selling helps keep a clear focus on what's important at every buyer journey stage. Let's look at that progression.

  • Attention: From making the customer aware of the product
  • Interest: Positioning it as potentially beneficial
  • Desire: Convincing them that the product is a great fit for their needs
  • Action: Obtaining the desired result of a sale
aida selling technique

4. Challenger Selling

Challenger selling relates to a book written by Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson, which argues that relationship-building is no longer the most effective approach to selling. In the publication, they define five key personas that sales reps fall into - of which the "challenger" is the most successful.

The basic premise of the method lies in the fact that most modern customers are well-informed about a product or service before they have direct contact with a salesperson. They spend a good amount of time researching the product and category before taking action. In fact, Gartner research found that prospects are typically more than halfway through the purchase journey before they have meaningful contact with a seller.

"Sales organizations can increase business by challenging customers — delivering customer interactions specifically designed to disrupt their current thinking and teach them something new. It's not just about selling something anymore," says co-author Brent Adamson.

challenger selling

5. Social Selling

As the name would suggest, social selling is all about creating relationships with your customers - and in today's modern world, much of this is done via social media channels that represent almost limitless opportunities for contact.

Social selling is growing in popularity, and with 78% of salespeople engaged in social selling outselling their peers who aren't, it's not hard to see why. 

Examples of techniques used in social selling  include 

  • Sharing of topical content
  • Social listening
  • Direct one on one interactions with potential buyers through Linkedin

Crucially social selling focuses on the individual - this isn't the same as social media marketing, the process is much more direct and human, speaking to individuals rather than a mass following.

social selling

10 Selling Strategies to Close More Sales 

Here are ten ways to ensure you're getting the most of the full spectrum of selling techniques, laying solid foundations for sales success.

Build Rapport

Without a genuine and authentic connection with your customer, you're building the whole sales process on unstable ground. Take time to create a reliable rapport with your buyer - getting to know more about them is essential. Not only will you strengthen your relationship, you'll also get a deeper understanding of their motivations and pain points. A little small talk can go a long way – we're all human, don't be afraid to show this side of yourself.

Work on people and presentation skills

Never underestimate the power of your people skills. Take time to fully appraise your manner and attitude when it comes to interactions. 

  • Are you too forceful? 

  • Do you sound as though you lack confidence? 

Focus on the way you hold an engaging conversation, remembering to practice active listening. Work on the way that you introduce yourself – first impressions count for a lot. If you hate leaving a voicemail, you aren't alone - but working on these small details can improve the way that your character is assessed, especially at the early stages of the sales cycle.

Listen, don't just hear prospects.

So many of the sales techniques that we've highlighted in this article are focused on the two-way dialogue that a good sales process should represent. Don't forget to listen – and really listen – to your potential customer's needs. The cumulative effect of actively paying attention to what your customers are telling you – both positive and negative – is one of the most valuable and direct sources of intelligence you have access to.

Understand your market and prospect's market well

When it comes to the market that you're operating within, things won't be standing still for long. Take time to explore new opportunities, fresh competition and trending topics before a sales meeting. This applies for the market that your target audience operates within as well – inform yourself to help build that all important rapport. A good understanding of the challenges that they face will help you to build a much stronger and more authentic relationship over time.

Rely on data

We know that science-based selling works. Put your trust in the data generated by your customers' behaviour and your ongoing interactions with them. Your CRM is a rich source of this kind of practical insight. Make more informed, metrics backed decisions, throughout all stages of your selling process. As salespeople, we've never been in a more advantageous position when it comes to having access to rich sources of incredibly valuable information. Learn into this, and take full advantage of all it has to offer.

Focus on problem-solving, not the sale

The successful modern salesperson is a problem solver. Pair your solution with the perfect problems, acting as a matchmaker for the customers you serve by removing impediments and adding real value. By focusing on the areas where you know you can make a real and tangible difference, you'll be able to sell with much more confidence and authenticity. You're not selling coffee; you're selling a way for your customers to fight that feeling of mid-morning fatigue!

Spot non-verbal cues

Learn to pay attention to the tell-tale signs that signal how a sale might be headed – people communicate in many more ways than with words alone. Body language plays a key role in sales meetings. Even on a video call, you can be mindful of eye contact. 

  • facial expressions
  • posture
  • level of distraction
  • tone of voice. 

By noticing these cues and responding to them, you can turn a conversation around

Kindle unknown needs

The ultimate salesperson fixes a problem their customer didn't even realize they had. For example, employees wasting time switching between multiple software solutions when they could be working more efficiently from a "single source of truth." Identifying a pain point that the customer recognizes the real value in solving shows a deep and empathetic understanding of your buyer, and this alone is incredibly appealing.

6 Resources and Tools for Developing Your Sales Techniques

 

Let's explore some of the essential resources that your sales team can benefit from as they perfect their selling techniques.

1. CRM

A CRM solution streamlines your customer relationship management. Time and time again, a deep understanding of your customer has been shown to be the key to a successful selling strategy, and by working with an advanced CRM solution, you can obtain a complete insightful picture of your buyers on an individual level. What does this look like? A full 360 view of each buyer's interaction with your business. This might include:

  • Recent communication, including email, phone calls, and chat sessions
  • A chronological view of their recent activities
  • Any upcoming appointments, reminders, and notes relating to the customer
  • Their engagement activities; web pages visited, marketing resources downloaded
  • Any current deals in progress (as well as the status of the deal
crm sales technique

Looking to truly enable your sales team to increase their productivity and proactively pursue sales? Choosing a product like Freshsales CRM gives a clear competitive advantage. AI is the key to effectiveness and efficiency, providing deep insight into customer behavior by 

  • Scoring and ranking to highlight the prospects expressing the most interest in your business
  • Categorizing deals by status, applying tags such as "Likely to close", "At-risk", "Gone cold
  • Keeping up momentum by providing suggestions to your salespeople on the next best action to take

Beyond this, your team will be able to automate many of the manual tasks that would otherwise take up much of their valuable time and see a clear visible overview of their sales pipeline, enabling much easier management.

2. Email Templates

Working with email templates in tandem with a CRM can help to streamline your sales outreach dramatically. Templates are easily populated with data pulled from your CRM to create engaging and personalized emails in a matter of seconds – perfect for reaching out to decision makers, or reheating cold leads.

If you're looking to get started with email templates, these free email templates from FreshWorks will get you off to a solid start – offering options for every stage of the process.

3. Voicemail Scripts

As we mentioned earlier in the article, not many people are thrilled by the prospect of leaving a voicemail. And yet, with around 97% of sales calls ending in this manner, it's about time sales teams perfected the art!

For a deep dive into how to make voicemail work hard for you, we've created a thorough guide to the best way to approach this as an opportunity, not a roadblock.

4. Cold Calling Templates

Cold calling has something of a poor reputation within the sales world, but it doesn’t need to be this way! Cold calling, when done correctly and with the right goals in mind, can be a really effective sales technique.

If you’re still skeptical about cold calling, here are 25 tips for success that we think will help to change your mind.

5. Linkedin Sales Navigator

When it comes to social selling, LinkedIn represents an enormous opportunity for sales teams, especially those pursuing B2B custom. LinkedIn Sales Navigator Is a social selling platform that enables you to narrow the search for your perfectly targeted prospect, and then facilitates the start of a trusted relationship.

To learn more about how this powerful tool could help facilitate your social selling efforts, head to our expert guide.