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11 sales tactics proven to fill your pipeline and close deals

Sales tactics
1Listen and solve a problem
2Warm up your sales calls and emails
3Use social media to find leads
4Ask for referrals
5Create sales enablement content
6Audit client conversations
7Offer upgrade incentives to existing customers
8Learn new things
9Follow up with each prospect
10Keep in touch with past clients
11Invest in automation tools
Final Thoughts

The sales landscape and the buyer journey have changed. Prospects no longer need to source product information from sales reps, as they can go online and find most of what they need themselves.

These days, what your company represents (and who represents it) is just as important as your products or services.

In this article, we’ll introduce you to a sales techniques list full of powerful modern sales tactics that will help your team better qualify prospects, nurture leads more effectively and close more deals.

1. Listen and solve a problem

However, if you skip this step and jump right into selling, you’ll just be shooting in the dark. It’s risky to make assumptions about your customers as one wrong move can have them running off to your competitors.

It’s also important to remember that no one wants to be sold to. People pay attention to solutions and benefits, not features. So, how do you explain the benefits of your product?

Let’s say you’re working in the sales department of a bank and your company has recently launched a mobile app.

Instead of telling prospective customers about the app and its features, focus on how it can make a positive difference in their lives. Explain to them how they’ll be able to pay their bills on the go or make international bank transfers from the comfort of their home. This simple tactic will help you avoid a salesy tone and make potential customers trust you more.

Putting this sales tactic into practice takes time and effort. You need to fully understand your customer so you can genuinely add value to their lives. When prospecting, conduct thorough research on your buyer persona and their decision-making process. To do this:

  • Survey your existing customers

  • Collaborate with other teams

  • Survey your online communities

Here they are in more detail:

Survey your existing customers

You can do this via email, phone calls or in-person meetings. Your customers are your best resource as they’ll often provide honest, straightforward feedback. Ask them specifically why they wanted or needed your product and how they feel since making a purchase.

What were their biggest pain points before the purchase and why did they choose your product as the solution? How has it helped them specifically solve their problem?

These answers will help you to build relationships that move prospects along the buying journey, as you’ll have a deeper understanding of your target market’s demographics and your ideal customer profile (ICP) goals.

Use their responses to guide your sales pitch, better address your target prospects’ needs and position your product as the ultimate solution.

Collaborate with other teams

You can also learn more about your existing customers by talking to customer success or account management teams, for example. They work with the clients post-purchase and have first-hand experience with customer feedback.

Without needing to investigate further, they can easily relay commonalities between their clients to shed light on their behavior and intent.

Survey your online communities

Go online and read the community engagement. Your customers most likely talk to each other on your social pages, such as LinkedIn, Facebook groups or Instagram.

Read through their comments to decipher common threads. What are they discussing the most? What do they like, or dislike, about your product and what does that tell you about their needs?

If you’re selling to businesses, make sure you study their industry, processes and competitors.

You can do that via online forums or by reaching out directly to ask one-on-one questions. They may not divulge information, but it’s worth asking.

With data in hand, you can reevaluate your customer personas. From there, make any necessary shifts to how you approach prospects and present your solution.

2. Warm up your sales calls and emails

Cold calling is still an effective selling technique if done right. You need to conduct thorough research so that you can personalize the call and provide value right off the bat.

Naturally, this means you have to do your homework first. In effect, you are warming up the cold call.

Before you contact a prospect, you must fully understand who your ideal customer is. Find out if there are any common traits between your existing clients. This will help you understand what to look for in a prospect.

You should also know which of your customers have the highest lifetime value (LTV), and which ones make smaller yet frequent purchases.

Once you’ve identified best-fit customers, do some research on who you’ll be contacting. Find out who the decision-makers are. If you’re pitching enterprise accounts, reaching out to the CEO may not be a good idea, as the problem you solve is likely to be another decision-maker’s priority.

Reach out to a manager or head of a department instead. Make sure you find out as much as you can about them before making the call. For example, if you’re selling CRM software, identify the head of sales or chief revenue officer (CRO).

Look them up on LinkedIn, dig into any of their published work and peruse their online profiles to uncover their interests. Treat this information as ammunition to help you connect.

In the first 15-20 seconds, introduce yourself and drop a personalized statement that builds up to why you called. For example, you could begin with:

I was reading your blog post on the new HR system you’ve implemented in your company, and I was wondering if you could tell me more about it.

An opening line like this can spark conversation, and when a prospect starts talking, you listen. Now that your contact is familiar with who you are, they’ll be more likely to read your email and pay attention to what you’re saying.

Sales trick: You can warm up your cold calls and emails even more with actionable resources. Cold calling scripts help you stay prepared for any situation or response you may face. Similarly, cold email templates help you personalize your communication and drive meaningful interactions.

9 steps to creating the perfect sales strategy (with free template)

In this handbook, we’ll walk you through what your sales strategy needs, plus there’s a free strategy template to get you started!

3. Use social media to find leads

Social media can be a game-changer for your sales.

Why? Because many of the people involved in business decision-making (millennials) also happen to make up the largest customer base of most social media platforms. According to Sprout Social, 75% of millennials note they use social to interact with brands and companies.

This is why using social media to find leads, engage in conversations and educate potential customers about your brand is a foolproof sales tactic.

But social selling is more than simply posting updates. Here are a few ways to use social media strategically to ramp up your sales:

  • Join LinkedIn groups

  • Connect with prospective buyers

  • Engage in relevant conversations

Let’s explore each in more detail:

Join LinkedIn groups

LinkedIn groups offer a huge networking opportunity. You can participate in conversations, discover thought leaders and decision-makers in your industry, or simply listen to and learn from discussions relevant to your business.

For example, if you’re selling an HR software and your ideal customers are small business owners, you can join groups related to small business marketing or growth.

Connect with prospective buyers

Proactively look for executives and decision-makers who could be your potential customers and reach out on LinkedIn with a personalized message.

Stay away from the standard messaging when sending a connection request. Instead, add a personalized note introducing yourself and why you would like to connect.

Engage in relevant conversations

The best part about social media is that you can actively search for relevant conversations using a simple hashtag. Use this opportunity to find potential customers looking for answers or advice. Offer them value and mention how your product could help them solve their problems by taking part in the conversation.

Let’s say you’re selling a productivity tool. Try typing “productivity tool suggestions” into Twitter and looking for someone that is asking for suggestions using the social media platform.

One of the sales tricks you could try is to contribute to this conversation and shed light on your product and its benefits.

It’s a great way to connect directly with potential buyers and generate qualified leads.

4. Ask for referrals

Word of mouth referrals can generate some of your most successful and valuable leads. That’s because a reference from somebody that you already know and trust helps break down barriers and warm up the conversation.

In fact, word of mouth is the most common way that people get news from family and friends. Further, 83% of Americans say that recommendations from friends and family influence their buying decisions.

A 2020 study from Saasquatch found that referred customers are 18% more loyal, have a 16% higher lifetime value and spend 13% more than non-referred new customers. Additionally, referral clients have shorter sales cycles and higher conversion rates. Asking for referrals is a powerful sales technique in every sales professional’s arsenal.

When it comes to referrals, it’s important to set the expectation early on. Once you close the deal, let your client know that there may come a time where you’ll ask to be recommended to a friend or peer who might find value in what you offer.

By appropriately setting expectations, you set yourself up for success down the line. Your client won’t be surprised or confused by the question and as a bonus may even have somebody in mind already.

If you struggle to grab organic referrals, try offering an incentive.

However, this sales tactic isn’t for everyone. Referral programs only work when they motivate customers with a worthwhile reward and are strategically executed. Great referral programs provide structure and predictability.

The best way to gain referrals is by making sure your products or services are good enough to be recommended. A great product and delightful experience will inspire people to spread the word about your brand.

5. Create sales enablement content

When evaluating complex solutions, buyers need careful nurturing and education on your product in order to establish trust. This is where sales enablement comes in. These resources arm you with on-brand, data-driven tools to better nurture leads through the buying journey.

The best sales enablement content comes from cross-team collaboration. Working together, you can share and compile valuable customer insights about problems, pain points and needs.

With data in hand, you can then produce compelling content and share it via an effective and collaborative marketing and sales strategy. This content will help to significantly boost sales conversions. One of the sales tricks great salespeople routinely in their sales presentations is handing out related sales enablement content at the same time.

Here are some effective types of content that you can use:

  • Case studies. Provide real-life, detailed examples of how your business has helped other customers achieve similar goals in the past. Load them up with data points and quotes to provide social proof.
  • Whitepapers. These text-heavy informational papers help you to validate your claims with statistics and research about how your business solved a similar problem.
  • Product sheets. Having a document or web page with detailed product information is a convenient way to explain specifications, features and benefits to potential customers. If well-designed, a product sheet also offers the advantage of being more visually engaging than a simple email.
  • Demos. Demos can be a great way to educate prospective buyers about your product. If you’re a SaaS business, you can create video demos or even webinars to help interested prospects learn more about how your software works.
  • Reviews and testimonials. Product reviews and customer testimonials are miniature versions of case studies in that they provide social proof that can help convert prospects.
  • Comparison charts. Competitor comparisons that show how your product is better in terms of pricing and features, often in the form of easy-to-digest tables.

Great sales enablement content will help you and your team deliver on-brand, professionally-executed content to nurture prospects through the sales pipeline.

6. Audit client conversations

Earlier, we touched on how important customer feedback is in reevaluating customer personas and understanding pain points. Now, let’s evaluate how you can review your client communications to identify areas of improvement.

For example, many sales teams use SaaS tools that record emails and/or calls. But, how often do you actually review these recorded transcripts?

Auditing your client communications can be an invaluable process. As you comb through past conversations, look for repeated problem areas, pain points and needs that were raised. Similarly, look for common desires and hopes for solutions to fix these ongoing issues.

Once complete, your sales manager will collect and categorize all of the feedback into buckets. From there, they’ll identify any inefficiencies in your team’s process.

Note what responses and selling tactics worked well to diffuse a problem, position your product or service as the solution and ultimately helped to close sales. Conversely, what pathways led to dead ends or missed opportunities?

Your sales manager may use these findings to update your sales processes or retrain your team on the selling practices that worked best in various situations and update the sales playbook so that everybody can easily refer back.

There’s no one size fits all solution, but auditing your client conversations and identifying the most effective approaches will help you narrow down a winning sales strategy.

Sales Tactics offer incentives

7. Offer upgrade incentives to existing customers

Consistently checking in with past clients to see how they’re doing is an important part of a salesperson’s role. There’s always a chance that the client has a new problem that your product can solve, or that you have a new solution that they may benefit from.

These follow-ups are most effective when coupled with an incentive. For example, incentives are a highly effective sales tactic for SaaS businesses with several pricing plans or tiers.

To encourage your existing customers to upgrade their plan, you can offer them discounts or time-sensitive promotions. Incentives are most effective when offered for a limited time, as a sense of urgency is a powerful purchasing motivator.

Naturally, these communications are more effective when you understand your customer’s needs. Why did they choose X plan or tier when they first signed up? What factor(s) would qualify them to benefit from a different plan or tier?

This involves research. You should keep tabs on your existing clients to see how their company is doing. Have they grown? Have they launched a new product or service that vastly differs from a previous one?

Using the latter example, you can begin your email by mentioning the new product or service launch. This helps to personalize the messaging and shows that you care enough to have stayed up to date with the customer’s business.

You can then promote the new plan or tier idea by explaining how it will benefit their new service. By explaining the value, you can begin to tie the pricing to the desired outcome.

To seal the deal, throw in an incentive at the end. Perhaps give them half off of the upgraded subscription for the first three months as they become acquainted with the new features, or if it’s the holiday season, you can offer a holiday discount as a token of your appreciation.

No matter what incentive you choose, weave it into the narrative rather than presenting it as a standalone solution. It should be more than simply, “upgrade because it’s 25% off”. Show them what they’re missing without the upgrade and then reward them for their decision when they’re ready to commit.

8. Learn new things

The best salespeople do not rely solely on their initial sales training, they are always learning new things and trying new selling tactics. They know that no matter how good they are, they can always do better.

That drive is what makes a sales superstar. Sales superstars don’t settle for the middle of the pack. They push above and beyond what is expected of them because they enjoy reaching their quotas and surpassing goals.

One of the best ways to consistently improve is to gain industry and product knowledge. You’ll have a much easier time selling and closing deals when you are intimately familiar with the products and services you’re touting.

Moreover, sales superstars are proud of what they’re selling. They truly believe that their product or service will solve problems. This confidence fuels their drive.

Also, the more you know about how a product works, the better you’ll be able to position it as the answer to a problem. If a prospect has an uncommon need, for example, and you’re only semi-familiar with the product you may not see how it can help. But if you’re thoroughly versed in the ins and outs of the product you will immediately be able to present the desired outcome.

As mentioned at the start of this article, most customers do product research on their own. While they may have specific questions about why your product is better than the competitor, they want to understand why your brand is the best.

Superstar reps make brands look and sound good because they are authorities in their field.

9. Follow up with each prospect

Reaching out to prospects can be frustrating. You may not get a response, or you may face an immediate objection.

This happens for many reasons, maybe they were attending a meeting or you just caught them at a bad time, or perhaps their inbox was flooded that day and they simply missed your email.

This is why following up consistently with each prospect and constructively overcoming objections is a must-do sales tactic.

Email is a great tool for follow-ups. Timing is everything, so make sure you reach out in planned intervals. You don't want to bombard them with phone calls and emails, or you’ll risk getting blocked or relegated to spam, but you don’t want to wait too long either, or your contact might forget about you.

Generally, the rule of thumb is to follow up one or two days after your first touch to stay top of mind, but do your research to better understand your prospects’ average buying cycle to see if there is an ideal outreach moment.

The more you know, the better prepared you will be to generate meaningful follow-up communication and combat potential objections.

10. Keep in touch with past clients

Past clients are already loyal, trusting customers. With a little effort, you may be able to build on your existing relationship and persuade them to buy from you again.

In fact, 90% of real estate customers are willing to consult the same realtor again in the future. Why? Because they already feel comfortable working with you. Getting to know somebody new takes a ton of time and effort. When customer’s find a sales rep they trust and enjoy talking to, they often want to give them future business.

Getting in touch with past clients, therefore, should never be perceived as a business interaction. You’ve worked hard on cultivating a meaningful relationship, so use that information in your outreach.

For example, you may have learned their birthday or anniversary date during past conversations. If you are reaching out around one of those milestones, mention it. This will help to personalize the conversation and make the customer feel special.

The fact that you cared enough to note down these milestones can be the reason they choose to work with you again. It may also be the reason why they offer up a referral if they don’t have the need, time or budget to work with you right now.

Once a conversation is underway, introduce a new product or recent service updates that may be useful to them. As mentioned earlier, if your company offers an incentive program, now is a great time to inject that discount or reward into the conversation.

Most importantly, use your previous history to add depth to the conversation.

11. Invest in automation tools

If you’re not automating most of your manual sales tasks, know that your competitors probably are. To keep up with them and focus more on strategizing, consider investing in good automation software to help you out – it’s one of the best sales tips out there.

CRM: Pipedrive

Pipedrive is a sales-focused CRM platform that can help you manage leads, track communication and view in-depth analytics with ease.

Some other features include sales reporting and forecasting, a customizable chatbot and an AI-powered sales assistant to help boost your performance with personalized tips.

Email automation: Mailigen

You can also use email automation software like Mailigen to automate your outreach emails and newsletters. Mailigen offers tailored solutions for different industries and can help you put together beautiful emails using an intelligent drag-and-drop editor.

Sales intelligence: Leadfeeder

Sales intelligence tools, such as Leadfeeder enable you to identify your website visitors using insights from Google Analytics, which can help with lead generation.

Business messenger: Intercom

Intercom is a modern business messenger that helps you build better and stronger customer relationships through its interactive chatbots. It makes use of real-time insights that help you generate leads and engage with customers in a meaningful way.

PR & outreach: Respona

Respona is an all-in-one PR and link building tool that helps you connect with influencers and bloggers in your own specific industry to promote your content.

You can also use this AI-powered tool to find contact details of journalists, authors and influencers, as well as create personalized outreach emails that get a response.

Final Thoughts

Using the best sales tactics for your business is key to closing deals and filling your sales pipeline.

Instead of blasting salesy pitches in hopes of finding a lead, you should focus on engaging prospects in personalized sales conversations that are meaningful and mutually beneficial.

Use this effective sales techniques list to enhance your outreach efforts, build meaningful relationships and have a much more powerful impact.

9 steps to creating the perfect sales strategy (with free template)

In this handbook, we’ll walk you through what your sales strategy needs, plus there’s a free strategy template to get you started!

Driving business growth