Gathering sales leads is tough. Getting in the door. Getting in front of decision makers is tough. But closing the sale? That’s what separates good salespeople from great salespeople.
The following is from Ryan Robinson, a content marketing consultant to the world’s top experts and growing startups.
Whether you’re just getting started or you’ve built a career in sales, you already know first-hand that selling tactics aren’t just learned in the classroom and immediately applied to driving real business results.
While there are certainly a stable of proven sale strategies that are widely applicable to growing your startup regardless of the industry you’re in, it’s not quite as simple as copying, pasting, and kicking back to watch your numbers soar.
Becoming a master at sales takes time, repetition, the willingness to adapt on the fly, and a dedication to improving your craft on a daily basis. For most, that bank of experience and knowledge takes years to accumulate.
However, if you decide to learn from the right people who’ve already put in thousands of hours sending cold emails and picking up the phone to close deals, you can significantly chip away at the inside sales learning curve.
That’s why we’re sharing the best sales tactics from over a dozen inside sales professionals, which have been honed over countless years of experience.
And beyond just the advice these pros are sharing, we’re drilling down into the fundamentals of how to take their tips and implement them as part of your sales process today. Let’s dive in.
1. Develop a deep understanding of your prospect’s business.
Julianne Gsell, director of enterprise sales at Box.com
Starting as the company’s very first sales development representative back in 2009, Julianne Gsell is now the director of sales on the enterprise team at Box. Her work is now largely with a field sales team, so it’s safe to say she’s learned a thing or two about mastering both the art and science behind what it takes to be effective at sales throughout her career.
When asked about the single most effective tactic her inside sales team employs to close more leads, Gsell says, “For my team and me, it’s very important to focus on the business process and relate our value back to how it impacts their business. IT and security today are under a lot of pressure to drive business outcomes, so in order to partner with them, we must deeply understand their business process.”
This selling tactic really cuts to the core of what it means to partner with your customers, as opposed to simply selling them something.
Gsell and her team aren’t just seeing dollar signs, selling widgets, and moving on to the next prospect. They’re investing in the upfront lead qualification that’ll ensure their solution drives real business results for the client after they’ve signed on the dotted line.
Sound too time-consuming for your inside sales team? Well, the alternative–not truly qualifying leads–can be devastating for any business.
To qualify your leads before selling to them, take these four steps:
Build a profile of your ideal customer. Don’t forget–you get to choose who your customers are. Starting with this foundational step will help you eliminate the noise and rule out prospects that aren’t a good fit for you, right away.
Understand their needs. At the end of the day, even in B2B sales, you’re still selling to real people. Therefore, your inside sales team needs to know what kind of downstream results your solution will provide for your ideal customers on all levels within the organization.
Gauge their decision-making process. Depending upon the solution you’re selling, your prospect could need senior executive buy-in on making the purchase. That can take minutes, days, months, or more. Early on in your qualification process, it’s in your best interest to get a clear picture of how long your sales process will be.
Know your competition. To fully understand whether or not you’ll be able to thrive with this prospect, you have to know whom you’re competing against.
When you qualify your leads, turn them into paying customers, and deliver the results they’re expecting, you’re laying the foundation for a referral engine that’ll bring unpredictable numbers of new customers your way.
The best part is, the more great work you deliver, the more referrals you’ll likely bring in.
2. Learn to thrive in the discomfort that is selling.
Lane Caruthers, enterprise account executive at Zendesk
Selling is an inherently uncomfortable activity for many people.
If you’re not careful, it’s easy to allow your own fears, insecurities, and natural desire to be liked to creep into the conversation and ultimately lead you to pay less attention to what your prospect actually needs. And if that discomfort gets in the way of helping the prospect you’re talking to, you’ve already lost the sale.
Lane Caruthers, now an enterprise account executive at Zendesk, has experience working in inside sales for several Bay Area startups, including Cloudera and Box.com. Through his own selling experience, Caruthers has learned how to befriend the variety of uncomfortable activities involved in closing a sale.
Caruthers explains, “You have to be comfortable being uncomfortable. Sales reps go through a lot of uncomfortable things during a sales cycle. For example, taking advantage of silence when you break news about pricing. Let it sink in. Rambling on to justify the cost of your system won’t help.”
If you try to quickly gloss over an important detail like product pricing, that could be a deal-killer for your prospect, because it’s a fast track to losing his or her trust. You’ll only be signing your own death certificate.
Instead, choose to acknowledge the uncomfortable reality that your product comes with a premium price, and use that as an opportunity to explain why it’s significantly better than other options on the market. Lean on your sales scripts if you have them, and justify your cost by showing clear value through case studies.
The world of inside sales is built on clarity. After qualifying a lead, it’s your job to get a definitive yes or no, because when you don’t get a clear answer, and the number of maybes stacks up in your CRM, they’ll bog down your effectiveness. They’ll lead to hopeless optimism, slowing the momentum of your inside sales team, and ambiguity.
3. Treat yourself as a consultant and chief problem-solver.
Megan Dunn, inside sales at Lever
Now as a midmarket account executive at Lever, a leading recruiting software company based in San Francisco, Megan Dunn has worked in inside sales for years–including time spent at both Oracle and Okta.
When asked about her most effective selling tactic, Dunn replies, “I personalize everything and take a very consultative approach to sales. Whether I’m sending an outbound email to a cold account, or getting on a demo with 10 executives, I make sure I know my audience and do my research on the company.”
This makes sense right? Taking this consultative approach to being a true adviser who cares about the challenges her prospects are facing during the inside sales process is what helps Dunn stand out from the pack of other salespeople who are just clamoring to close a deal.
Personalization is the key to showing empathy.
And when you show true empathy to your prospects during the inside sales process, experience shows that you’ll create a range of long-lasting benefits for this new relationship you’re building. Things like
deeper levels of trust and stronger confidence in your solution;
more willingness to experiment, upgrade, and grow into new features and offerings; and
eagerness to offer introductions and referrals to other potential customers.
Dunn adds, “People just like to feel that you took the time to make an email, presentation, or demo about them. No company is the same, no use case is the same, no buyer is the same. It’s my job in inside sales to adapt my presentation or demo to the specific company, use case, and buyer.”
When you can effectively do that during your selling process, it’s only a matter of time until your prospects want to work with you–even more than you need them.
4. Craft a powerful story that builds value and excitement.
Poya Osgouei, inside sales manager at Automile
An experienced inside sales manager at Automile, Poya Osgouei spent several years building his skills at HackerRank, a technical recruiting company in the Bay Area.
Throughout his journey in sales, Osgouei has learned the power of storytelling to help build value, share relatable experiences, and get prospects more invested in the purchase.
When asked about his most effective selling tactic, Osgouei explains, “One selling tactic that’s extremely undervalued is telling a story that can create a powerful perception of value by showing both the before story and the after story in a way that gets the customer excited to partner with your team, and excited about your offering.”
Think this selling tactic is overstated? Well, telling a story sounds pretty simple, but let’s take a closer look.
Humans have been using storytelling as our primary means of communication for more than 40,000 years. From ancient cave paintings in Spain to the war chronicles of Julius Caesar, stories–whether written, visual, or verbal–have long been used to show, tell, and convince.
Moreover, our evolution means we’re literally hardwired to not only want to tell stories ourselves but to more easily consume and understand information that’s communicated through a story format. When structured properly, you can use storytelling at every stage of your sales process.
To bring home the point of what your story is designed to achieve, Osgouei emphasizes, “the best way to really get a customer excited is to talk about how you’ve helped make the lives of your other similar customers easier. More often than not, I’ve seen leveraging this inside sales technique as a great method for earning a prospect’s business and finalizing a partnership.”
5. Be quiet and build trust through listening.
Jill Angelone, account executive at Lyft Corporate Travel Emerging Markets
For more than seven years, Jill Angelone moved her way up in various different inside sales and account management roles within AT&T, bringing in deals that placed her among the top sales managers in the country, had her overseeing a $300 million account with Apple, and more.
Throughout her career in inside sales, Angelone has learned just how powerful a sales strategy it can be to let your prospect talk and fully explain his or her situation.
Angelone explains, “In all honesty, my most effective selling tactic is to just be quiet. When reaching out to prospects, I have a few probing questions designed to gather the information I need to qualify an opportunity. However, the key is to allow your prospect to talk. If you’re talking more than the customer is, you’re doing something wrong. Everyone likes to talk about themselves and an employee of a company is no different.”
There’s a lot of truth to that. In fact, most people spend a whopping 60 percent of conversations talking about themselves. Research has linked the positive feeling we often experience while talking about ourselves to higher levels of activation in areas of the brain associated with reward.
This selling tactic has consistently netted positive results for Angelone over the years.
She adds, “Allowing your prospect time to explain how the business operates shows that you’re just genuinely interested in how their business runs, and by being a shoulder to lean on, you build trust. Once trust is built, it opens up new avenues of opportunity. People will want to refer you to the right decision makers when it doesn’t seem like you’re pushing your agenda, but rather hearing them out and finding ways to optimize their business.”
By taking advantage of our hardwired tendency to talk about ourselves, and allowing your prospects to really express themselves during the sales process, they’re more likely to feel good about the interaction you just had.
Feeling good–becoming comfortable–is the first step to building trust with your prospects.
6. Personalize your conversation around real needs.
Heidi Effenberger, sales development rep at Zenefits
We’ve all gotten those copy and paste cold sales emails that read like a robot wrote them.
When I get the impression that the “person” emailing me hasn’t even taken one minute to look at my website to judge whether or not I’d actually be a good fit for a given solution, the deal is already done before it’s even gotten started. Delete.
With these kinds of cold emails, how many times have you read the full message, let alone actually respond or end up making a purchase from the sender?
My guess is probably zero. Add to that the fact that decision-makers are probably getting a dozen (or more) cold emails each day, and you can’t afford not to personalize your conversation from the moment it starts.
Zenefits sales development rep Heidi Effenberger knows first-hand the importance of personalizing her inside sales conversations when she’s talking to prospects–whether it’s through cold outreach or further along the sales pipeline.
Effenberger says, “Sales gets a bad wrap due to lack of personalization and understanding of customer needs. I’ve found the most important selling tactic is to start by learning about the person, how they work, and their specific challenges.” She continues, “At Zenefits, we often talk to leaders of HR, which is a complex role. There are common challenges, but every workplace is different and our prospects are dealing with competing priorities. I always start by asking questions and listening to make sure Zenefits is a good fit for their needs, which allows me to really tailor the conversation to what matters most.”
This is great advice. Do what you can to research your prospects ahead of your outreach, to try to develop a baseline understanding of both the person and the company–it’ll help you better assess their needs.
Then once you’ve gotten your prospect on the phone, it’s then your job to actively listen, ask the right questions and craft a pitch that truly addresses those needs he or she is telling you about.
7. Never stop following up.
Steli Efti, CEO at Close.io
Steli has been sharpening his teeth in the world of inside sales for over a decade, having grown multiple seven-figure startups, including Close.io. So much of his success with inside sales is due to his philosophy on following up–never considering a deal dead until he’s gotten a very clear no from a prospect.
“I follow up as many times as necessary until I get a response,” Steli explains. “I don’t care what the response is as long as I get one. If someone tells me they need another 14 days to get back to me, I’ll put that in my calendar and ping them again in 14 days. If they tell me they’re busy and they don’t have time right now, I’ll respond and ask them when they feel like a good time would be for me ping them.”
What I like most about this selling tactic is that it’s easy as hell to implement. No complicated tools, tricks, or scripts necessary.
All it requires is a mindset of persistence, and a commitment to see through every single deal until you get a clear answer either way. It’s not about following up to close every single lead all the time; it’s about making sure you’re never in the deathly maybe zone.
“The key here is to actually keep following up,” Steli explains. “If someone tells me they’re not interested, I leave them alone. But here is the kicker–if they don’t respond at all, I’ll keep pinging them until they do. And trust me, they always do.”
What makes something as simple as following up so effective then?
It’s easy to make initial contact with a prospect. Find an email address or phone number, send that cold email, schedule a first meeting, get across your pitch. But right here is where many inside sales reps pause or stop altogether, hoping their prospect is so sold that they’ll be clamoring to sign the contract.
8. Ask, define, and explore.
Arjun Varma, sales manager at Quantcast
Quantcast sales manager Arjun Varma is tasked with driving new business revenue and building strategy to grow the company’s high potential accounts. In his time at Quantcast, he’s contributed over $60 million in revenue, while managing more than 35 sales reps.
When asked about his most effective selling tactic from nearly a decade in sales, Varma says, “My most effective selling tactic can be utilized in a quick exchange or in a big meeting, and has helped me win as both a sales rep and now as a sales manager. Ask, define, and explore.”
Varma explains, “Ask discovery questions to uncover the largest business challenges a prospect is facing. Define the implications of these challenges. Explore a partnership or sale that addresses the defined challenges and helps the customer do more business.”
Let’s break this selling tactic down and take a closer look at each component.
Asking the right questions from the moment you strike up a conversation with your prospect is crucial to qualifying whether or not his or her business is a match for what you’re selling. As we covered earlier, there are four main stages of lead qualification that can be assessed through asking the right questions.
Determining whether a company is an ideal customer. If it’s not abundantly clear up front, it’s your job to ask questions that get to the bottom of whether or not this prospect in question is the right size company, whether or not it’s in one of your target industries, the right geographic location, has the correct use-cases, and so on.
Understanding the company’s needs. This is the big one. Asking your prospect questions that get to the bottom of what it wants to achieve, how it will be measuring these results, and getting a feel for what expectations will be across the organization.
Feeling out the company’s decision-making process. If you’re not dealing with a decision-maker, you need to know that. Asking questions that’ll determine exactly who will be involved in the purchasing and implementation process is crucial to closing the deal. You’ll also want to get a very clear expectation for the timeline on making a buying decision for what you’re selling–if it’ll take a year to go through, you need to know that.
Learning the company’s level of experience. Has it used a similar solution in the past? If so, you’ll want to know exactly what it has tried so that you can compete effectively, set the right expectations, and buffer against upcoming objections.
More often than not, the solution most inside sales reps are selling–whether a physical product, tool or service–has a primary purpose of helping customers to do one (or more) of two things:
do more business, and/or
do business more efficiently.
Don’t assume that your prospects immediately understand how your solution can help with the challenges they have already expressed. Your job in this sales process is to partner with your prospects to develop a clear understanding of their unique challenges and create a convincing plan of action that’s likely to net positive results for their business per the metric they want to achieve.
It’s not always realistic, no matter how much information you already have, to walk into a meeting (or phone call) with a prospect and come up with an immediate game plan for them.
As Varma said, coming up with the right solution is a collaborative process that needs to be done with your prospect, and not in a silo where you’re sitting at your desk strategizing. There could be unforeseen internal organizational requirements, implementation hurdles, hidden challenges, and even obstacles that your prospect hasn’t anticipated yet.
It’s your job to walk through this combined process with your prospect and come to the best solution together.
9. Know when to pause your pitch.
Caitlin Burch, inside sales rep at Universe (a LiveNation company)
At Universe, a Live Nation and Ticketmaster-owned company, Caitlin Burch is responsible for bringing on new clients–event organizers–that will use the Universe platform to create event pages, incentivize their communities to promote events and sell tickets all in one destination.
When asked about the most effective selling tactic she’s learned in inside sales, Caitlin says, “It’s almost silly, because it’s so simple and obvious: Listen. Let me correct that: Really and empathetically listen.”
It does sound pretty obvious, right? Well, research shows that on average, people tend to talk about themselves during 60 percent of a conversation–and when there’s something being sold by one person in the conversation, a less experienced salesperson could be tempted to fill a void of silence with a laundry list of more selling points and value propositions.
Instead, take the time to let your pitch sink in while you’re delivering it. When you see that something might not be connecting, or your prospect starts to sound confused, invite him or her to speak. Encourage questions.
“More often than not, clients will tell you exactly what their needs are and provide the opening for you to offer a solution and seal the deal,” Burch adds. “You’ve just got to pause your auto-pilot long enough to hear it and reply with an assertive but friendly way to quell their needs.”
Not only will your prospects feel that you’re understanding their needs better if you listen intently to what they have to say, rather than rambling on about your features, but, research shows, you’ll actually be more effective at helping them once the deal is closed. Shocker, I know.
10. Be honest and transparent and provide value first.
George Vitko, sales executive at Reply.io
While the first two pieces of sales advice from George Vitko at Reply sound pretty intuitive, figuring out how to provide value first–in the way your prospects want to receive it–is a unique challenge for those less experienced in inside sales.
“In most cases, our prospects are waiting for other vendors to respond for days or weeks, while we’re able to schedule calls with them on the same day or next,” Vitko explains.
By being quick to qualify his leads and get them on the phone shortly after initial contact, his sales team keeps the initial excitement and momentum going right off the bat, which is very valuable to prospects that are ready to move quickly and start testing out their solution.
And due to the nature of Reply’s product, which helps people scale their one-on-one email outreach, this quick-to-reply selling tactic is alive, an in-action case study of how its prospects will be able to use the product to grow their outreach (and sales) once they’re on board. That makes their selling experience all the more crucial.
Provide value through product demos. Some products just need to be test driven before you can fully understand what they do and how they’ll be able to impact your business. Plus, demos are arguably one of the best ways to give your prospects a quick a-ha! moment that helps push them over the edge.
But you can’t just send a cold email asking when your prospect is available for a demo of a product he or she may not be familiar with yet. You need to establish relevancy, build credibility, qualify, and get the prospect excited first.
Here’s how Vitko and his sales team at Reply do just that: “Our script is pretty simple,” he says. “Get people on the phone as soon as possible by sending a few personalized cold emails sent via our platform. We’re advocates of meaningful follow-ups during which you not only ask, but also give something of value during the conversation.” Vitko continues, “From there, our goal is not to pitch the product, but to listen to what challenges they’re facing. Then, only if we’re a good fit, we’ll do a demo and discuss use cases.”
When you’re ready to deliver your demo, keep these four pitching essentials in mind.
A good demo balances business and emotional needs. No matter whom you’re demoing for, you have to hit them on both emotional and business levels. Sure they want to see the quantifiable impact your solution can have on their business, but how about the less obvious benefits like saving countless hours of time each week, helping them over-deliver on their manager’s expectations, and so on.
A good demo is succinct. In most cases, you have only a few seconds to capture someone’s attention at the beginning of your demo and get your most important point across. Focus and momentum are your friends.
A good demo tells a story. Humans have been telling tales for thousands of years, which is why it’s a great idea for the flow of your demo to follow a narrative pattern, whether it’s a live walkthrough of your product or via a slide deck using visually appealing templates from solutions like Slidebean.
A good demo focuses on benefits. Value beats price every single time. Rather than focus on cost or features, your pitch needs to focus on the value you’re going to create for the person you’re pitching.
Remember, your customers care about how you’ll help them. Don’t just tell them how you’re better than the competition; show them.
11. Don’t oversell; know when to ask for their business.
Jennay Golden, sales manager at Yelp
Yelp sales manager Jennay Golden is a true people person. She’s outgoing and can strike up a conversation with someone she’s never met, walking away minutes later with a new friend. That skill has translated directly to supporting her career growth in inside sales over the years.
But not everyone has that ability to build quick camaraderie after getting a prospect on the phone. And for those of us who don’t, it can be a natural response to ramble on during a sales call–highlighting more benefits, listing out every product feature, reiterating the same value props in different words over and over again to our own detriment.
To fight this urge, Golden has trained herself to embrace the silence. She explains, “There’s endless value in asking a pointed question followed by a deliberate, confident pause.”
Why does this selling tactic work so well for her? Well, rather than continuing on ad nauseam after asking an important qualifying question in hopes of nudging your prospect’s answer in a particular direction, you’re letting reality sink in.
“Tech sales has gotten more competitive,” Golden adds. “As such, stressed out sales reps will all too often try to sell and negotiate at the same time by layering questions with value points, or worse, answering their own question on behalf of the prospect.”
Here’s an example of what you don’t want to do: ask “What’s holding you back? Is it the contract?” and then launch straight into negotiating against the barriers you just put in your own way. “If it’s the contract maybe we can negotiate that, but you really don’t have to worry because … oversell, oversell, etc.”
Instead of overselling, Golden suggests, “ask a smart question that’s relevant to their specific pain point. Pause confidently. Acknowledge their response. Negotiate if needed. Ask for the business. Wash, rinse, repeat.”
12. Treat your prospects like real people.
Adam King, director of sales at Vidyard
With the proliferation of undoubtedly useful sales automation tools like Prospect.io and Reply comes a natural trade-off: You gain some in productivity and scale from employing these kinds of services that do automated outreach on your behalf, but you also lose some when it comes to the personal touch that can often make all the difference.
Vidyard director of sales Adam King has mastered the art of building that initial connection with prospects in a way that virtually nobody else has–through video.
King explains, “We love using video as our first outreach tool because it shows our prospects that we are human and that we’re not automating our emails. The video is personal and different, so it increases our initial response rates and saves our team time as they don’t need to go through an entire cadence.”
Here’s a great case study breakdown of how Vidyard customer and inside sales rep Lauren Wadsworth from Dynamic Signal used customized outreach videos to get a massive 200 percent increase in meeting bookings–with an additional lift in conversion rate.
Stand out from the crowd. If recording a customized video for each of your prospects won’t fit into your sales cycle, fear not. As long as you take a few minutes to really personalize your outreach, you can experience a major lift in response rate. Most people just want to know they’re talking to a real person.
Start with these outreach personalization techniques:
Find your prospect on social media and craft a message that highlights a shared interest;
if your prospect has a blog, mention what you liked about a recent post; and
mention a mutual connection you share and establish more relevancy right away.
This personalized selling tactic extends beyond just the prospecting phase, too.
By investing in the upfront creation of guides, video demos, case studies, and walkthroughs that cover the most common questions your prospects have during the selling process, you can deliver much stronger–and time-saving–answers to their questions and objections.
King explains, “We also love to record short two- to three-minute ‘micro demos’ for our most commonly requested feature demonstrations. These micro demos change our game because they free up our solution consultant’s time from doing the same demonstration over and over again.” He continues, “If a prospect won’t take two to three minutes to watch a short demonstration of a feature they expressed interest in, then we start to question their level of readiness to work with our team and prioritize our efforts on our most engaged customers.”
The real effectiveness with this video sales strategy lies in your ability to further qualify leads throughout the buying process.
At first, you’re qualifying leads with a personalized video that’d pique the interest of most people. Then, further down the funnel, if your prospect isn’t willing to dive into a deeper answer to their questions by watching a micro demo, the purchase intent might not really be there.
13. Identify your prospect’s primary motivation.
Christian Keroles, SMB account executive at Reach Analytics
In the world of inside sales, cutting to the core of your prospect’s deepest motivation is the name of the game. Christian Keroles knows this very well.
“Throughout the years, I’ve learned that the most important thing when it comes to selling anything is diagnosing the need first,” Keroles explains. “Before you do anything else, you need to identify what your prospect cares about right now and what’s motivating their actions today.”
If you waste five minutes of your prospect’s time droning on about a product feature or service offering that isn’t going to positively affect the company’s primary business need right now, chances are high that you’ll lose the sale.
You’ll get shot down, ignored, or, even worse, be given the proverbial “maybe later” that leaves you sitting in sales limbo for the coming months. While a clear answer in either direction is better than maybe, it’d be much better to land more yesses in your corner. How will you do that?
Become your prospect’s number one priority. “If you can successfully identify your prospect’s motivation and deepest need, then you can position your product or service in a way that solves that need,” Keroles explains.
No matter the product or service you’re selling, there’s going to be a pretty long list of benefits that span across different potential needs your prospect could have.
Use your early conversations to really probe which of those needs are the highest priority. And don’t just take his or her word for it; do your own homework and ask the right questions to cut through the noise. Start with these five killer sales questions:
How did you hear about us?
What’s the top challenge your team or company is currently facing?
What’s the top challenge you’re personally facing?
What are the results you want to achieve and how do you want to achieve them?
What concerns do you (or would the decision makers) have?
If you’re not able to identify your prospect’s biggest pain point, it’ll be difficult to get your prospect to care–or treat your solution as a must-have.
14. Use social selling to your advantage.
Cole Sutliff, sales operations at LinkedIn
We’ve all seen it. That LinkedIn connection or Facebook friend who’s frequently sharing statistics, insights, and thought leadership pieces on the state of their industry.
Whether you like it or not, social selling is here to stay (and it’s working). Thanks in a large part to professional networks like LinkedIn, any inside sales rep can instantly leverage his or her network to find the right prospects, build relationships, and start conversations that could lead to an uptick in closed deals.
This tactic has a focus on the front end–on helping to improve your lead generation and sales prospecting process–with the goal of eliminating time-intensive cold calling. By positioning yourself as an industry expert (if you are in fact one), you can bring more qualified leads directly to your inbox by regularly showing up on your social platforms.
Cole Sutliff, sales operations associate at LinkedIn, works to empower more than 300 sales development representatives to put social selling to work in building their pipeline of potential members who could benefit from upgrading to LinkedIn’s more advanced selling tools.
“Regardless of sales level, those who engage in social selling win,” explains Sutliff. “Establish your brand, find the right people, and engage with insights to foster organic, rapport building conversation with prospects about your solution.”
Based on LinkedIn data, 51 percent of social selling leaders are more likely to reach quota and 78 percent of social sellers outsell their peers who don’t use social media for selling.
If you’re starting from the ground up with social selling as a sales tactic, prepare for the long haul. While you shouldn’t expect to publish a status update and get a flood of qualified leads in your inbox, the payoff can be huge over time. Show up, be present and engage. Rinse, repeat and the payoff will be there.
15. Mirror your prospects.
Carlos Ballesteros, business development manager at Continu
We’re all familiar with mirroring. You probably do it too, whether you realize it or not. When you’re in a conversation and either you or the person you’re talking to begins to subconsciously imitate the gestures, facial expressions, speech pattern, or attitude of the other, that’s mirroring. Essentially, it’s a subtle form of mimicry.
Mirroring is most common within close groups of friends and family, implying a certain level of understood comfort with each other–which makes it a great potential sales tactic for establishing a closer connection with your prospect (if you can pull it off well).
When you do, our modern psychological understanding suggests that mirroring positively affects the other person’s thoughts and/or feelings about you, which can lead to building quicker rapport with them.
In the context of using mirroring in inside sales, your prospect will feel more like he or she can relate to you on a personal level. Carlos Ballesteros, who works in sales at Continu, is no stranger to this tactic.
“My most effective selling tactic is mirroring my prospects,” Ballesteros explains. “There are two ways in which I go about doing this. The first is a more traditional facet in which I literally match the customer’s nonverbals or tone of voice.” That’s classic mirroring.
But Ballesteros takes his version of mirroring much further than that. He adds, “The other way I apply the concept of mirroring is in understanding where my prospects are coming from. I put myself in the prospect’s shoes and ask myself what the clear value in my solution is to them. Whether this is done via email, phone, or in person, this sales tactic has been very successful for me.”
There’s actually evidence to support this hypothesis too. In a 1974 study conducted by Word, Zanna, and Cooper, job interviewers were asked to follow very specific types of body language over the course of several interviews.
In one condition, the interviewers were asked to show a very distant and uninterested body language. They leaned away and avoided direct eye contact with the interviewee. In the other condition, the interviewers were asked to be more welcoming with their body language–smiling, nodding their heads, and making eye contact.
In both cases, the individuals being interviewed began to mirror the actions of the interviewer. As a result, the individuals in the condition with less friendly body language performed worse during the interview than the individuals in the friendly condition.
The outcome of this study suggests that the initial attitude an interviewer has about the person being interviewed may strongly affect the performance of the interviewee, largely due to mirroring.
Do your best to get started on the right foot and keep the momentum going with mirroring.
16. Customize your pitch for each individual.
Bill Mooney, head of sales at ClickTime
If you want to be successful in inside sales, realize today that you’re selling to people, not to companies. Whenever you pick up the phone to call a prospect, you’ll be talking to a real person on the other end of the line–not just an imaginary entity with deep pockets. You have to understand the individual you’re pitching, which starts with doing your homework ahead of time.
ClickTime head of sales Bill Mooney knows the importance of this sales tactic.
“Put in the work to customize your pitch,” Mooney explains. “Research your prospect. Learn where they’ve worked before, what their social media footprint tells you about them, where they fit in the organizational chart at your prospect company and get a feel for who else will likely be involved in the sales process. Make sure that every interaction you have with a lead reinforces their belief that you understand who they are and exactly what they need to be successful.”
That means positioning your solution not just how you see it working for your prospect’s business, but in a way that solves the problem, they personally care about most too.
Your prospect might be most interested in a particular feature that’ll help him or her perform better in the eyes of their manager than in, say, a feature that could have the biggest net impact on the company’s bottom line. Use your understanding of the position your individual prospect is to your advantage as you sell to them.
Gary Vaynerchuk, entrepreneur, investor, bestselling business author, and CEO of VaynerMedia endorses this tactic.
A couple years ago, Steli interviewed Vaynerchuk about what’s different in his business now that he’s selling his services to Fortune 500 companies instead of mom and pop wine shops.
Vaynerchuk explained, “Nothing has changed other than my having to learn what my new customers care about. As soon as I know what the other person needs, I will sell them that as long as I feel good about what we’re doing.”
You’re selling to people, not companies.
And remember what people buy–they don’t buy products, they buy better versions of themselves.
Sales can be a grind, especially as you’re just getting started and climbing the learning curve every salesperson has to experience for themselves.
Prospecting for potential customers. Sending cold emails and dialing numbers for hours on end. Following up with warm leads. Tracking the status of deals in your pipeline.
Arm yourself with the right technology, sales training, and tools you need to get the job done.
Keep these time-tested sales tactics in the front of your mind and you’ll be well on your way to sales success.