Sales Tips that Don’t Feel Sales-y

One of the secrets to great selling is to perfect a sales presentation or interaction that doesn’t feel “sales-y.” Prospective clients are far more receptive to a conversation focused on them and on their needs than a rapid-fire list of all of the benefits of a product or service. It takes expertise and finesse, but with practice and the following tips, practically anyone can elevate their sales games and improve their conversion rates.

Stay Client-Focused

When you’re conversing with potential clients, keep the conversation personal. Ask a lot of questions, but don’t be scary. Find out what their weekend has been like, what their hobbies are and if they have or want kids. Poke around a little and you will “hit” on a topic that you have in common, or that excites them and makes the overall conversation much easier and more natural.

Ask Questions

Did you realize that by asking the right questions, prospects will actually tell you what you need to do to get their business? Try inquiring about what they do, whom they use now or have used in the past, and how they felt about their experiences. Clients are not bashful. They have the information you need and want to share it with you; they just need an opening.

Listen very carefully for this key information and use it to customize your value proposition and secure the sale.

Third Parties and Examples

When you need to touch on a difficult subject, using a third party helps you sound authentic without being overly critical or offensive. The proverbial “other” people can then be wrong or misguided instead of your actual client, and you can run through many different scenarios without hurting anyone’s feelings.

You can also create examples of situations to help illustrate your reasoning in a practical way. This helps present your ideas as expertise instead of just opinions. It’s also more interesting and understandable than citing a ton of boring facts.

Use Their Language

My favorite example of using lingo or academic speak unnecessarily comes from an episode of Modern Family, wherein a character warns, “Tread lightly before you assiduously malign the veracity of my etymological prowess.” If you can use real, every day words to describe it, do it. Unless your prospective clients happen to be university professors who enjoy the use of incomprehensible six-syllable words, you’ll not only demonstrate that you’re easy to connect with, but they’ll have a real shot at understanding what you mean.

Communicate on Their Terms

As you’re working through the steps of a sale, be sure that your prospective client receives your communication in the most effective manner to them. This includes any updates, approvals, questions, responses, recommendations and solutions. Ask how they prefer to be contacted, via email, by phone, text, or other form. It is good service connect with them the way that works best for them and not the other way around.

Create a loose template or worksheet to gather information that you will need for your estimate and indicate on that worksheet the way the client wants to be contacted. Outline on your initial plan the minimum instances when they can expect you to be in touch and when that will be. Always allow yourself sufficient time and deliver your responses early.

Other best practices include exceeding what you’ve promised – going above and beyond, and managing expectations by giving an accurate timeline for anything deliverable.  During the planning process, set specific dates and times for regular check-ins, either in person or via phone or virtual meetings. And don’t rely exclusively on email. An occasional phone call or a handwritten note goes a long way towards personalizing your service, especially for older generations.

Things to Avoid

Don’t waste time chasing a prospect who just doesn’t want what you are offering. It is much better that you spend that time working on how you can best serve a great match than trying to make one work that wasn’t meant to be.

 Always stay away from politics and religion in your sales conversations!

If you are an established company, avoid people with whom you know you don’t want to work. This is a luxury some newer companies won’t enjoy at the beginning, but dealing with clients who “get you” not only makes the experience better for you, it makes it far more likely you will please them in the end.

 Never compromise who you are. If an opportunity requires you to do something you don’t believe in or contradicts your principles to make something happen, it’s not worth it for you in the long run. You can always offer to refer to another business, but there are rare times when the sacrifice is not worth the possible rewards.

Ensuring Repeat Business

The single greatest incentive for repeat business is doing the job right the first time. If you make them happy and they have a chance to use you again, they will. Focus most of your energy on your product and repeat business will take care of itself.

Assuming you’ve done that, there are other ways to stay top of mind. Reach out to your past clients regularly and show them that you value your relationship. If you only call when you want to sell them something, they will know. If you simply stay in touch, you can ask them if they have any upcoming needs for catering services or if they have any leads they might share with you, and it won’t put them off.

When you follow up on an event, ask a lot of questions and be open to suggestions or critique. Don’t respond defensively. Be grateful for any improvements your clients might recommend as they can help you make your services even better. If a client writes a great review or gives you a shout out on social media, be sure to thank them for the mention.

Your sales process, from beginning to end, should be client-focused and each step should help establish a trusting relationship. The clients you do sign will be the very people you can make most happy – a win-win situation for all.