It’s happened to the best of us: you feel like you’re doing everything right, but your numbers aren’t where they should be. You might have the best product on the market, but you’re still striking out when it comes to making (and keeping) new client relationships.
So where is the missing link here? You can ace your sales presentation and have all the right answers, but these alone won’t be enough for sales success. If you really want to boost those numbers, you need that extra something to close your sales: interpersonal skills.
It sounds simple enough, but many sales professionals are still missing this part of their strategy. Studies have shown a notable positive correlation between interpersonal skills and sales numbers, so we know that client relationships require nurturing. Yet a lot of us are still falling short.
If you’re not focusing on your interpersonal skills towards your clients, now is the time to do it. Keep reading to learn why interpersonal skills are a crucial part of your sales success, and how to harness this power in the field.
A Look at Sales Psychology
Behavioural psychology tells a lot about consumer buying behaviour. Consumers are heavily influenced by a number of biases, including their emotions and environmental cues. So how do you tap into that as their sales consultant?
The psychology of the sales and buying process dictates that the seller must think about these motivations. They have to figure out how to appeal to the primary needs of the buyer that lead them to make their buying decisions.
Here are some major motivators for customers:
- Will it save time?
- Will it make their lives more convenient?
- Will it speed up a particular process to increase time and efficacy?
- Does the product or service offer an increased feeling of prestige, status, or beauty (personally or materially)?
Customers are also strongly motivated by ego. Ego is a major buying motivator, especially when your product or service will make them feel better than others.
People buy products largely based upon how they anticipate they will feel. Are they going to feel happier, be thinner, feel prouder, or be more admired?
This anticipated emotional change is going to affect their buying decision. You don’t need to be the best in the world, but you do need to be the best for them at that time, all things considered.
Why Is Interpersonal Communication Crucial to Sales Success?
Before we delve into the “how” here, let’s take a look at the “why”: why are interpersonal skills so important for sales success?
The psychology of interpersonal relationships shows that the behaviour of each person will influence the outcome of the other in these relationships. When you’re in a sales setting, this type of personal influence is crucial.
Now more than ever, trying to “sell” to someone just doesn’t work anymore. If you want to close the deal and score a lifelong client, you’ll need to take things a step further. You’ll need to really understand your client’s needs rather than trying to push something they might not want.
Without a thorough understanding of what the prospect or client needs (and wants), you simply can’t sell to them as successfully as you would otherwise. This understanding is referred to as psychographics, and it’s crucial to your sales success.
How to Improve Your Communication Skills in the Field
Research has shown that people typically make decisions based on emotion rather than logic, and what better way is there to appeal to your prospect’s emotional side than by creating a rapport? If you want to see your numbers grow, focusing on your communication skills is a must.
This is one of the most important elements of communicating for sales success: in your mind and heart, you need to be confident of what you’re selling. You should know the product or service inside and out, including all the features and how those will benefit the prospect. Whether it’s an online or face-to-face meeting, you need to be fully versed in these areas of your sales pitch.
Build your confidence by doing your homework in your chosen field. Become an expert on the product you’re selling. Moreover, you’ll need to understand how it fits into the needs, desires, and concerns of your potential buyer.
Understand Your Buyer
It’s astounding the number of sales professionals who pitch their product or service without having any idea what the buyer actually does. When you do this, you’re communicating to that buyer that you only care about closing the sale and getting your commission. This isn’t a good look for you or your company, and it’s definitely not going to help your sales success.
So, how do you understand your buyer? The following are your key steps to gain some needed perspective.
1. Pay very close attention, observe, and listen.
As pointed out by Harvard Business Review, empathy starts with curiosity. You can practice empathetic listening by being curious about what people have to share. Be genuinely interested in what others have to say and watch what you can learn.
Research found that the top 5% of listeners don’t just listen silently. They ask questions and add in interactions to build the other person’s self-esteem. If you want the prospect’s trust, you’ll need to exhibit these communication strategies during your interactions.
You’ll also need to look for the prospect’s nonverbal cues to learn how they are feeling. For example, voice fluctuations might indicate doubt or a lack of certainty. If they say “yes” but their voice cracks, then this might not really mean “yes.”
Active listening also helps you avoid making incorrect assumptions about prospective customers, preventing potentially awkward situations within the sales process. It gives valuable clues about the customer’s needs, desires, and problems. Without this vital information, you’ll have a hard time making a sale.
If you want to improve your active listening abilities, practice your everyday communication skills. Observe your daily conversations and teach yourself to slow down, listen, and engage with the person you’re talking to.
2. Ask the right questions.
They say you can judge a person based on their questions, so learning to ask good questions is another crucial component of interpersonal skills in the sales process. Learn what questions to ask, when to ask them, and in what order to ask them.
How do you ask good questions? Well, that’s a good question!
You start by learning to listen and empathise with the other person’s experiences. Then, you use this information to see how you might be able to help them. Put yourself in their shoes and really try to see things from that person’s perspective.
As you’re speaking with your client or prospect, you should find out the following information about them:
- What are their concerns and fears?
- What pain might they be experiencing?
- What is their desired outcome?
- What pleasure are they seeking?
Your questions should identify why you’re sitting in front of that client or prospect. Do they need relief from a problem, or do they simply fancy a better life in some way? How can your product or service achieve that for them?
Listening actively and asking the right questions can also help you identify whatever concerns or objections your buyer might have. By knowing how to obtain the right information, you can prevent any doubts before they can stall the sales process.
3. Take an interest in your client.
As Dale Carnegie said, “To be interesting, be interested.”
This all boils down to being curious and interested in other people. It provides you, their sales consultant, with all the information you need in order to best serve them.
This might be difficult to learn for those “rugged individualists” out there, but if you honestly want to excel in sales long-term, it’s a mandatory ingredient. You can’t be self-centric or heavily focused on your own agenda. You’ll miss important details that can make or break the sale.
4. Identify your prospect’s pain points.
As you interview your client or prospect, try to identify their pain points. What is the desired outcome they are hoping your product or service will help them achieve? How, specifically, will they be better off by using your product or service?
Prospects will only take action if they feel they will be better off as a result. By focusing on those pain points and how your product or service will address them, you’ll have a much better chance of making the sale.
5. Ask yourself: “How will my product make my client’s life better?”
Buyers seek a benefit, outcome, and result. They’ll ask themselves whether your product or service is a good fit, and whether their return or benefit will be worth the initial investment.
A really good active listener should be able to laser in on what problem the customer is trying to solve. Many times, the prospective customer doesn’t know the exact solution to their problem. As an expert salesperson, you’ll help them figure that out.
Offer your buyer a benefit or a transformation. They will grow to trust you, respect you, and ideally recommend you to others.
Communicating Effectively for Sales Success
In today’s business climate, blindly pushing product simply isn’t enough. In order to appeal to your target market, you’ll need to learn about them and actively listen. Then, and only then, you can enjoy true sales success.
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