Have you ever thought to yourself, “I feel like I’m stuck in a sales rut. How can I shape up my selling routine and improve to become a better salesperson?”
If this sounds familiar, there are simple steps you can take today to start improving in every facet of your selling career.
In fact, there are several small changes you can make right now to begin your journey to becoming a better salesperson.
These changes might seem tiny at first, but when you implement them all together, everything will change for you.
In this video, I’m going to show you 9 changes you need to make right now to become a better salesperson. Check it out:
1. Drop the enthusiasm.
I say this all the time, and I cannot emphasize it enough. Enthusiastic selling just doesn’t work.
I can prove it to you. Imagine you meet a salesperson, you shake hands, and the salesperson immediately declares, “It’s so great to meet you! Gosh, I cannot wait to show you all the amazing things I’m going to do to improve the quality of your life!”
What’s your reaction? Immediately you recoil and just want to get away.
Even when enthusiasm is done in a clean, sharp, professional way, it still comes across as cheesy and inauthentic. When we drop that enthusiasm and instead just behave in a way that’s relatable, we become so much more effective at selling.
If you want to become a better salesperson, start thinking and talking like a good doctor rather than a cheerful salesperson. Be calm, measured, and authentic. Focus on the prospect and drop the enthusiasm.
2. Pitching is old-school.
I always cringe when I hear the word “pitch.” I hear clients say it all the time. Sophisticated sales organizations with thousands of salespeople say things like, “We really want to get better at pitching to our clients.”
I immediately think to myself, “I can’t believe these successful, well-known companies are still using the antiquated term pitching.”
We don’t want to pitch to our clients. Instead, we want to engage them in a conversation. We want to understand what’s going on in their world.
Don’t walk into a client’s office with a 45-slide pitch deck. Walk in with nothing but a notebook and a pen in that initial discovery meeting with the singular goal of finding out what’s going on in their world, what they care about, and what concerns they have.
If you have something you want to share with them early on, that’s fine. Just make sure you share it in a way that’s meant to spark conversation and get them talking.
To become a better salesperson, you must realize that you’re not there to pitch. You’re there to engage the prospect in a conversation to understand what’s going on.
3. No need to persuade.
Just as you don’t need to pitch, you don’t need to persuade prospects to do business with you.
Prospects are smart. They don’t need to be persuaded. They don’t need to be convinced. What they need is to determine whether there’s a fit. They want to see that you’re the right fit for them.
I like to use the analogy of behaving like a doctor who’s not trying to persuade patients to do surgery, but instead focusing on determining whether surgery is the right fit for the patient.
This is key to becoming a better salesperson. When you stop trying to persuade, you take all the pressure off of the prospect and set an environment where they can make a comfortable, informed decision.
Remember, it’s not about persuading, but rather engaging them in a conversation and asking questions to help you understand exactly where they are hurting, what’s going on, and what they really care about.
4. Don’t focus on the close.
Sales managers tell me all the time, “We really want to help our salespeople close the sale better. They’re okay up front, but when it’s time to close they get really weak.” When I hear language like this, I instantly think the person has no clue what they’re talking about.
Sales is not about the close—it’s about everything leading up to the point of the close. What you say in the close is almost inconsequential. It’s what you’re saying at the beginning of the interaction, during the discovery, and during the presentation that matters.
Here’s the key if you want to know how to become a better salesperson: By the time the close comes along, if you’ve done a good job up until that point, you should never have to use a fancy close technique. All you need is to be strong early on, and then the close is an inconsequential next step.
5. Know your discovery questions.
Knowing your discovery questions up front is so important. When you’re actually face to face with a prospect, or you’re on the phone, or you’re on that Zoom meeting, you should know exactly what your discovery questions are going to be.
You should never be thinking while they’re talking, “What am I going to ask next? What will my next question be?”
When you know your discovery questions, you’re focused 100% on the prospect. This is absolutely crucial if you want to know how to become a better salesperson. You should know your discovery questions every single time—and by the way, these really shouldn’t change.
Knowing your questions allows you to go from focusing on yourself, what you’re saying, and what you’re going to say next, to instead focusing on what the prospect is saying right now.
That way, if they say something that doesn’t really make sense or that you should really dig deeper into, you’re ready to take advantage of it. Know your discovery questions so that you’re totally focused on prospects.
6. Establish budget.
It’s amazing how contentious this idea is in today’s world of selling. Salespeople push back on on this all the time, saying, “Oh, you can’t ask for a budget. Prospects simply aren’t going to give you a budget.”
While not all prospects will give you their budget right away, that doesn’t mean you can’t ultimately establish a budget with every single prospect before you give the presentation.
If you’re revealing price at some point in your conversations without having established a budget, you’re doing things wrong. What you want to do is establish a budget with a prospect up front, so that you don’t waste all your time presenting an offering to an unqualified prospect.
By establishing budget, you’re also establishing value before you’ve even shown them the solution.
But how, exactly, do you establish budget? I’ve made a ton of videos about this, but here’s the rundown: You just want to make sure you’re on the same page with money before you present.
So, you might say something like, “Before I go back to my office and put together a proposal, I just want to have a quick conversation about money to make sure that we’re on the same page. Does that sound okay?” Inevitably they’ll say, “Sure,” and you’ll say, “Okay, so I can tell you right now, a project like this is going to range anywhere from X to Y. Is there anywhere within that range where you could see investing to solve the challenges that you’ve mentioned?”
And then they give you their answer, and you go right into establishing budget.
7. Learn their decision-making process.
Not understanding a prospect’s decision-making process is one of the most common traps that salespeople fall into. You’ve probably been there before.
You might think you have a great prospect, spend tons of time and resources putting together a big presentation, and then at the end the prospect says, “This was great, but now I need to run it by my team and get their buy-in,” or, “I just need to run this by my boss and make sure she’s on the same page with this.”
Whoa. How did that happen? You didn’t know about this magical boss or team of people who held all the decision-making power.
If you want to know how to become a better salesperson, you need to commit to learning your prospect’s decision-making process early on, every single time. By determining their decision-making process before the presentation, you stay in control of the sales process. Almost every prospect will run their decision by someone at some point. It’s your job to find out who.
Even in a consumer example, if it’s a big enough purchase, they’re likely to be running the decision by someone else in the organization. And even if you’re selling to the CEO, oftentimes they have a team they want to get buy-in from, and they want to have a collaborative process. So you want to learn that decision-making process early on in the conversation, not after you’ve presented.
Simply say something like, “Tell me a little bit about your decision-making process.” If they respond with something like, “I actually have a team of people that are going to be involved in this process,” then say, “Okay, so tell me a little bit more about who those people are, and what are their roles.” Get all that information, and then say something like, “Well, in our next conversation where I present my ideas, would it make sense to bring everyone together into the same place so that everyone can really see what this solution looks like?” And now you have everyone there and you’re taking control of the buying process.
8. Always have a next step.
This is one of my biggest passions in sales. I find that so many salespeople go through a solid sales process, but then they end one interaction without a clear next step—and the whole sale falls apart.
We always want to have a scheduled next step coming out of any interaction with a prospect. To become a better salesperson, you need to become completely militant about this. Never let a prospect out of your sight (or off the phone) without scheduling a next step. If it’s moving forward, there should always be a clear next step.
Never say something wishy-washy like, “Oh yeah, I’ll send over the proposal to you on Wednesday and then how about I follow up on on Thursday?” No. Get it on the schedule by sending a calendar invite and wait until they accept before ending the meeting or hanging up the phone.
Say, “Do you have your calendar in front of you?” When the prospect says yes (because everybody does), then say, “Great. I can get you the proposal by the middle of next week. Is there a time at the end of next week that might work for you so we can review and discuss any questions that you have?” The prospect will say, “Sure, I can talk on Thursday morning.” Then lock it in. Always have a next step.
9. Be willing to make mistakes.
If you really want to know how to become a better salesperson, it’s important that you’re willing to make mistakes. Be willing to mess things up. That willingness to mess things up actually liberates you from doing things that are timid and tentative—and those things never serve you in sales.
I want you to take risks the next time you’re in front of a prospect and it’s time to ask that budget question. Don’t be worried about messing it up. If you mess it up, so what? Chances are they won’t even notice. Be willing to make those mistakes. You’re going to find that you improve dramatically as a salesperson once you stop being afraid of making mistakes.
So there you have it. Now you know 9 changes you need to make right now to become a better salesperson. Which of these ideas did you find most useful? Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments section below to join the conversation.
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About the Author Marc Wayshak
Marc is is the best-selling author of three books on sales and leadership, including the highly acclaimed titles Game Plan Selling, The High-Velocity Sales Organization and his forthcoming book, Sales Conversations, Mastered.
Marc is a contributor to Inc, HubSpot, Fast Company, Entrepreneur Magazine, and Huffington Post Business. He also hosts a popular YouTube channel on sales strategy with over 103,000 subscribers.
Marc helps thousands of people his data-driven, science-based approach to selling that utilizes all the best tools available to sales organizations today.