Here are five great ways to help develop your influencing skills to make you a better sales person:
1: Build Rapport
Do you need rapport before you can influence someone? No, but it’s better if people do like you. Creating strong connections with other people is important. You can foster those connections though identifying areas of shared interest – the more unique, specific or unusual the better. Use social media tools (Facebook and LinkedIn, for example) to uncover those areas of shared interest and build genuine connections.
The upshot of this rapport building is that when you ask your prospect to do something e.g. read your proposal or take an action from your email they will be more likely to do it because you have a connection. In fact when the content of initial conversations is about shared connections then the overall sales success is greater.
2: Don’t Just Focus on Your Words
The biggest misconception about influence is that it’s all about the words i.e. what you say. Context and the physical environment are important too.
In terms of timing, the first half of the week is better for hosting sales meetings than the second half as this is when people are most alert and receptive. However, avoid the first couple of hours on Monday morning (when most emergencies happen).
Early in the month is also a good time to host meetings. Towards the end of the month people are stressed as they have deadlines looming over them.
When it comes to where to host your sales meetings, it’s ideal for the prospect to make the call as they’ll be in the place where they feel most comfortable. If you have to choose yourself then go for somewhere where you think your prospect will feel most at home. To avoid your prospect getting distracted try to seat yourself so that they can only look at the wall behind you, rather than the whole room.
When thinking about the words you use avoid cliché sales questions such as: “Don’t you think?” They have become so popular that your prospect will know you’re using a formula. Be authentic and use your own vocabulary.
3: Put People at Ease
It can sometimes be hard for prospects to open up. In those instances it’s good to get people to start talking about what their greatest successes have been – in whatever aspect of their life that they want to share.
This could be something they are most proud of or something they are good at – people generally like talking about those things so it helps to put them at ease. Once they have relaxed into the conversation you can move onto asking them why they’re organisation is so successful (in comparison with their competitors).
4: Have Belief
Belief is the silent killer in sales. You have to believe in your product / service. Take a tip from method acting to help develop your confidence. When an actor needs to feel a particular emotion e.g. sad or happy they put their mind back to a moment when they last felt that emotion. If you can apply this technique in your sales role you can deliver real belief to your prospects.
5: Ask Questions
Generally speaking, the more a prospect talks the more they will respond favourably to you. Use smart open-ended questions that stimulate real conversation rather than a string of interrogation-style questions. Quality not quantity is far more important. Think about whether your questions are adding real value to the conversation.
Creating a sense of urgency can help your prospect come to a conclusion (and take action) more quickly.
Here’s a useful line of questioning:
- Identify the problem
- Ask the prospect what concerns they have about the problem. For example, if you are selling surgical devices you might ask about patient safety concerns in relation to the current devices they use.
- Ask probing questions e.g. what funds have they set aside to solve the problem? What have they tried already? What is their legal obligation to solve the problem? Go deep and problem solve the client.
- Ask the prospect whether they want to fix the problem or not.
The number one reason people don’t want to buy from you is fear of change. However, if you can lead your prospect to uncover and then fix their own problem you will be far more successful in your sales role. Do bear in mind that conversations with your prospects are a two-way street. Your product / service won’t be right for everyone so make sure you conversations allow you to work out whether what you have to offer is a good fit for your prospect