Close the sale by opening the lines of communication
I’m not sure why interpersonal communications strengths are often called “soft skills.” It implies that these are easy or unimportant, when sales success through interpersonal skills can be the toughest abilities to develop. And can make the difference between a sale and a “no,” it’s also one of the most important.
So let’s review what skills you have developed, honestly and authentically so you
can come across as “real” to your customers. Effectively communicating, building
rapport and relating well to all kinds of people will make your life, and the sale, that
Strive for self-awareness.
People do things that they aren’t even aware they are doing all the time. That can be a real problem in sales, especially if it sends the wrong or completely opposite message that you are trying to convey. Self awareness asks you to stop and really think about what you are doing and what you are saying before you even begin.
Because we’re all so busy, and frankly we operate on autopilot many times, we rarely take a breath to think about our own behavior. I’ve been guilty of it, because it’s tough to remember to assess myself while I’m also assessing my customer. Here’s an example of how not doing so can turn away a client.
Let’s say you’re listening to a client, and you have a habit of checking your phone or your watch. Just the act of glancing at either communicated to the client you aren’t interested in them, even though you hear and understand their questions fully. Self-awareness skills include deliberately reviewing what you will do and say, and avoiding personal habits that might sink your sale.
If you need to, practice in front of a mirror, or video yourself with someone. It isn’t easy to watch. What you see can help you learn to adjust your behavior without being uncomfortable.
Demonstrate sincere interest in others, and treats all people with respect, courtesy and consideration.
It seems so simple, yet being “real” and authentic with clients can be tough, especially if you have a busy schedule and your client wants to talk. In these times, it key to remember it’s not about you, it’s about them, and you need to connect with them on a personal level in order to build their trust. There’s no better way to do that than to listen with genuine interest, and there’s no more important part of your job than the person sitting across from you during a sales call.
While you’re managing your time and there are only so many hours in the day, think of this skill, as the additional time it may take with each customer could yield a higher sale.
Respect differences in the attitudes and perspectives of others.
Of course, not every client will be someone you want to invite to your house for dinner. We don’t all agree on everything, all the time. This is where you’ll learn that listening first comes in handy, and can completely save you from saying something that might create disagreement. On a first meeting, realize your customer is interviewing you while you are hoping to make a sale. Don’t sink your chances by entering a debate on an issue you might disagree with; everyone has their opinion, and nodding and saying, “I know many who would agree with you.” Then move on to another subject quickly.
One exception I will give to this rule, and it is if you believe your customer is involved in unethical behavior, or has such a vehement stand on an issue that makes you uncomfortable. They aren’t worth sacrificing your own principles.
Communicate effectively by listening, observing and striving to gain understanding of others.
It’s a good practice to do your homework on a customer, even those you’ve known for years. Take a look on their website or social media for any news or events they’ve been a part of. It’s a good conversation starter, and it shows you’ve been paying attention to them.
And while you’re in their office, look around as well and see what’s on their walls or on their desk. These are usually big hints to tell you what’s important to them, and if you’re smart you will comment on them. When people see that you’re actively trying to understand them, they will give you their trust. And likely a sale.
Develop and maintain relationships with many different kinds of people regardless of cultural differences by exhibiting sensitivity to diversity issues
As I mentioned earlier, everyone is different, and these days how we act socially is a big deal. As someone who is Jewish, I completely understand that there are stereotypes and bias out there. As someone who is a sales professional and spent time working and experiencing many countries and cultures, I can tell you stereotypes and bias have no place in your business.
Of course, you may not be aware of cultural differences when you first meet a prospective customer, but let them be the first to speak of it, rather than you making a comment that might come off as insensitive or upsetting. If your clients practice certain religions, understand as well that it can impact when they can talk with you or conduct business. Respect for their observances tells them you value them far beyond a sale.
So, by all means, develop your sales skills and abilities. Hone your product knowledge, and sharpen your organization skills. Realize, however, that nothing will speak louder to a client than how you speak with them.