From changes in technology to evolving social structures, the business landscape today shifts rapidly. While change can be challenging, it also creates opportunity in every entrepreneurial sector, including sales.
To find industry success, salespeople need to stay up-to-date with current best practices and cutting-edge strategies. To help, we asked 15 members of Forbes Coaches Council to provide their most important advice for modern salespeople to build their client base and maximize their sales numbers.
1. Stay Focused On Relationships
One way to adapt to change is to embrace fundamentals that never change. In sales, that’s relationships. Make sure you maintain older relationships even while you pursue new ones. Never take clients for granted. Have a plan for maintaining personal connections with customers, not just transactional ones. Staying focused on the basics will keep you grounded when inevitable change comes along. – Gary Bradt, Bradt Leadership, Inc.
2. Understand Human Behavior
Although technologies and tools will change over the next years and decades, our profound needs and desires as human beings won’t. So make sure that you understand what drives us: what we want, need, crave, dislike and fear. In addition to that, also work on yourself. The more authentic and “you” you become, the more successful you will be—as a human being and salesperson. – Dr. Natalia Wiechowski, Think Natalia
3. Use Technology To Complement Your Skills
There are many new technologies currently available and under development to support sales. It’s critical that salespeople understand their core strengths, where technology can replace them and how they can use technology to augment their abilities, such as finding prospects, providing virtual reality or augmented reality demonstrations, and much more. What does augmented sales look like for you? – Larry Boyer, Success Rockets LLC
4. Personalize Communication
I advise both young and veteran entrepreneurs who want to become relevant and continue to grow their success that personalized communication is always the most effective strategy. Emails, social media and adverts can never replace a personalized experience. Yes, they are necessary, but if one wants competitive advantage, strong negotiation outcomes and market share, pick up the phone. – Linda Zander, Super Sized Success
5. Change The Approach, Not The Intent
When change is abundant—whether in technology, offerings, systems or otherwise—you can feel the need to change everything. Keep this in mind: The intent of your efforts shouldn’t change with technology. When you find yourself in the midst of change, keep first things first and don’t fall into a trap of changing your intent. Begin with the end in mind and change your approach, not your intent. – Kyle Brost, Spark Policy Institute & Choice Strategy Group
6. Focus On The Customer
It may sound simple, but knowing your customer is still the core of successful sales. However, technology and innovation now require that salespeople not only understand their customer’s business, but where the industry is moving overall. This ensures that you’re not only providing what they need today, but helping them to prepare for what is coming, even if they don’t see it yet themselves. – Tonya Echols, Vigere
7. Always Keep Training
The most important thing a salesperson can do 100 years ago and today is to keep training, both one-on-one and via podcasts, books and seminars. Stay fresh. Tom Brady, one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, has four coaches. We are currently using Sandler Sales Mastery. – Gene Russell, Manex Consulting
8. Make Sure You Know What Your Customer Wants
How many times have we had a conversation with a salesperson who talks and talks and talks about a problem or need that his product solves beautifully, but it’s not my problem? Stop assuming you know what your customer wants, needs or desires. Ask questions, listen and find out specifically what their problems are today. Then look at how you uniquely solve their problem and clearly communicate that. – Debra Russell, Debra Russell Coaching, LLC
9. Don’t Rely Too Much On Technology
Realize that relying too much on today’s technology—email, social media, texting—becomes an enabler. Technology falsely empowers salespeople into thinking they’re creating relationships that will turn into sales. That’s the wrong answer. Humans make buying decisions. Make time for building relationships through phone calls, networking and coffee meetups. Let technology be the means to continue the conversations. – Rick Itzkowich, Vistage Chair San Diego
10. Remember That Sales Is Service
If you sell, you are providing a service or a product to someone to support whatever they are up to. When you keep your eye on your real job, which is to contribute, you will continue to keep up with the technology, the products and the different techniques you can use to sell and provide service to the prospect. It is all in the perspective. Keep your eye on being of service, and your job is simple. – Janet Zaretsky, Empowered Women Enterprisess, LLC dba Janet Zaretsky
11. Explain The Relevance Of Your Product
Given the varied changes and realities within the business world, it’s imperative for those in sales to be able to clearly articulate the relevance of their product or service to the consumer. Be mindful that in sales there is very little that “speaks for itself.” Having a great product simply isn’t enough in changing times. – Lisa Marie Platske, Upside Thinking, Inc.
12. Be A Trusted Partner
In spite of the many changes in technology and business culture, the main ingredient for a successful salesperson hasn’t changed; only the tools have changed. Sales has always been a matter of trust, and no matter what other factors change, the fact that operating as a trusted partner inherently results in easier transactions will remain the same. Be a trusted partner, not a salesperson. – Kamyar Shah, World Consulting Group
13. Tailor Your Approach
Sales is all about building rapport, since people will buy from those they know, like and trust. These days, with different technology and tools facilitating these relationships, the sales approach can become automated and transactional. The key is adaptability, since each person may prefer something different, from texting to calling to using social media channels—there is no one size fits all! – Carolina Caro
14. Make Sure You Create Value
People enjoy feeling like they got more than they paid for. Technology can make it easier to buy directly, but it can’t replace human interaction. Increase value by providing free education in your area of expertise, and let people know you’re there for them after the sale. In addition, use the benefits of technology to find your consumers’ needs and wants to provide even more specific value. – Erik Fredrickson, Erik Fredrickson Coaching
15. Practice Active Listening
As the business world rapidly evolves and changes, today’s modern salesperson must remember that one of their most powerful weapons has always been, and will always be, active listening. Listening for implied needs, as well as expressed ones, helps a salesperson truly understand how they can help their client, so they can in turn recommend appropriate solutions and anticipate future needs. – Karen Dee, Accendo Leadership Advisory Group
Article written by Forbes Coaches Council and originally published on Forbes.com