Being persuasive is at the core of any great salesperson’s skill set. Sales are not just about having the best product, being knowledgeable about it, and following a series of steps and techniques. You have to appeal to human psychology to connect with the prospect and have the emotional impact you want. Persuasion is an art as much as it is a science and requires some instinctive ability, but there are a number of simple yet powerful things you can do to tap into psychology and have the effect you want.
Research has shown that so-called ‘power poses’, which mimic the way you carry yourself when you feel secure and in control, can make you more confident and relaxed in minutes or even seconds. Our emotions impact our body language and the way we come across, but it works in the opposite direction as well. This effect will probably wear off and not be that dramatic, but doing a few quick power poses before an important meeting can get you started on the right foot.
Mirroring is a powerful and well-established idea in psychology. People respond well to those who adopt similar body language, tones of voice, attitudes, etc. to theirs. The key here is to use this sparingly and in certain situations. If your prospect adopts a hostile or closed attitude, for instance, you should not match this! At certain points in the interaction, such as when you are trying to convey your (hopefully) infectious passion for your product, you should adopt an expansive and confident attitude and try to get the prospect to match you, rather than vice versa. But at other points, such as when you are listening or trying to ask discovery questions (link) and get the customer to open up, mirroring their body language and tone can be very effective.
Many salespeople get bogged down in the details about their product and its unique features. But most of the time, your prospect doesn’t care about those things. They care about their own problems, and the value your product might bring to them. So to be persuasive in sales, you should always be focused on the value you can provide and the pain points you are addressing.
One of the most important aspects of communication in sales is listening. Salespeople tend to be chatty, enthusiastic types, but it really pays to be able to step back, observe and listen. This is why studies have shown that the most successful salespeople are not actually the most gregarious ones. Really great reps know when to pause and allow space for the customer to open up and share. Once they feel comfortable and engaged enough to do that, the rest is much easier. Just use the information they give you to get to the core of their problem and connect it with your product.
This goes hand in hand with the previous point. You should develop the ability to pose the right questions in order to tease out information about your prospect’s needs and potential obstacles to the sale. Learn more about the best discovery questions here.
Remember that the person on the other side of the phone or table is, well, human. There are many ways to build a connection with a prospect, but they include simple practices like humor, being friendly, finding shared interests, etc. This helps on a variety of levels, from making the prospect feel more comfortable to making them much more receptive to a sale.
A great communication tip is to keep the general tone of your sales conversations light and friendly. This does not mean you should be cracking jokes and bantering through all your calls, but humor can be an extremely effective way of building a connection with your prospect and getting them to open up. Here, you should take your cue from the customer, adjusting your tone to be a slightly friendlier version of theirs. You can test the waters by getting slightly informal and humorous and seeing how this is received. You can balance this light tone by showing intensity and passion when you are discussing your product. Make sure not to appear too eager to please and inauthentic either, as this can put you in the ‘sleazy salesperson’ category.
One of the most important aspects of sales is to create a sense of collaboration with the prospect, rather than a situation where you are trying to get something from them. If you create a sense that you are on the same team, they will internalize this idea, and closing the sale will seem like a natural step. A great way to get your prospect excited and engaged in the sale is to create the sense of a shared vision or purpose that you are both working towards.
You can make a sales situation as exciting and interesting to your prospect as you want to. People respond well to stories, so rather than presenting the sales process as a dry transaction, you should frame it as an enriching journey. Use bold language, emphasize the problems and challenges involved and give them real significance, and present the solution as something life-changing, a great vision you can build towards. Obviously don’t get too carried away here, but generally the more emotion you can invest a sale with the better. Try to use a narrative structure whenever possible, and involve your prospect as the protagonist of their own story. It may sound cheesy, but if well executed this can be an extremely powerful tactic.
Persuasion skills are the key to closing more sales. Understanding how your customers think and what motivates them will help you build rapport, create a personal connection, and engage in active listening. If you need help training your reps to be more persuasive, try Attention! Our software uses artificial intelligence to track your reps and give feedback on a variety of abilities, including body language, active listening, and many of the other skills discussed above.
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