In academic terms, the sales process generally consists of:

  1. Lead Generation
  2. Lead Qualification
  3. Features
  4. Cost
  5. Value Proposition
  6. Competitive Advantage

All of this plays a part in landing the deal – but none of it speaks to the intangible attributes that great salespeople use to effectively navigate these steps.

Today’s post is the first in a four-part series of digging deep into the sales process. In this post, we discuss the highly effective sales skills of Active Listening, Effective Communication, and Product Expertise.

Active Listening

Most business owners and sales reps feel comfortable talking to prospects. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for listening. Becoming an active listener requires listening with a strict focus and asking intelligent follow-up questions. Try not to anticipate what the prospect is going to say next. When you do this, there is a good chance you won’t let the prospect finish his/her thought and will respond with a half-baked answer that does not add value to the conversation. Active listening gives you the ability to empathize with the prospect and gain appreciation for their pain points.

Effective Communication

We have all heard, “It’s not what you say, but how you say it.” According to Sandler Sales Training, only 7% of communication relies on the content of what is said, whereas 38% of communication relies on other attributes. Good communication depends on your ability to observe your surroundings. Pay attention to the prospect’s body language, tone, eye contact and other non-content communication. This begins the process of building rapport and trust, which are both key to moving the the prospect to the next stage of the deal.

Product Expertise

Would you ever take a medical prescription from a car sales rep? Of course not! No prospect wants to buy from someone who has no knowledge or expertise in what they are selling – the risk is too high. Be prepared to explain how each product works, its value proposition, and how it solves the prospect’s pain points. Know where the industry is going and how your product will keep the ideal client ahead of the curve. Understand the product so well that there isn’t a question about it you can’t answer. Deep product expertise can separate you from the rest of the pack.

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