Written by: Elliot Roazen. Edited by: Carter Hoffman.

At Leadscore, we are always looking for ways to improve our sales skills. As a result, we have put together a list of 34 sales tips that will help you become a sales machine.

Bookmark this page, because we will be updating it as time goes by.

1. The early bird gets the worm.

What better way to begin than by talking about how you start your day?

Junior salespeople often complain that they aren’t meeting their objectives because of a lack of time. But everyone is running on the same 24-hour clock.

The trick to getting more done? The best salespeople are early risers: 76% of them are up before 7am, while 35% are up before 6am.

Being awake before your prospect means you can invest more hours into planning and research. An extra hour or two in the morning can give exponential returns. Hit the ground running when you reach the office and your productivity will reach new heights.

2. Read, watch, study. Learn from the best.

All successful salespeople are standing on the shoulders of giants. Fortunately for us, there has never been better access to sales education.

For readers out there, here is an awesome definitive list of the best sales books prepared by the lovely people over at Apttus. PersistIQ also has a great list posted on their sales blog here.

For the more visually inclined, there are dozens of awesome YouTube channels to help accelerate your learning. Here’s a starter list to help you reach the top

  • Jill Konrath—one of the most influential voices in sales strategy, Jill has authored numerous best-selling books and runs an award-winning blog. Her channel covers such topics as SNAP Selling, productivity hacks, and more.
  • Dr. Robert Cialdini—the same author of Influence fame conducts a YouTube Channel called Influence at Work. A must-see series for junior salespeople to learn about the psychology of selling, and how to use influence to leverage their sales.
  • Art Sobczak—Art pioneered the art of smart calling, which is sales calling minus the “cold”. His videos will help you better understand how to research prospects so your sales calls stand out. Best of all, you’re sure to come out of them being more confident selling over the phone.

Lastly, and my personal favourite medium, is podcasts.

  • Ultimate Sales Hustle Podcast—this playlist on Soundcloud is run by Steli Efto. Steli shares sales wisdom that have helped the best Silicon Valley startups smash their sales objectives.
  • B2B Growth Show—another podcast dedicated to helping B2B marketers achieve explosive growth from the people at Sweet Fish Media.
  • In the Arena Podcast—hosted by acclaimed international sales coach Anthony Iannarino, this podcast will help you learn the most current and powerful sales techniques and mindsets from the top professionals in the business.

3. Stay personal.

Personal selling is key to retaining customers.

To create opportunities for long-term revenue, successful reps use personal selling skills to develop genuine relationships with customers.

Fact: marketing and sales teams have quickly become members of the customer service department of any growing company.

It’s as easy as contacting your customers with a personal note after they make a purchase. The single interaction can reinforce your position as a company that offers high levels of customer service, and establish a true point of contact if they have any questions.

And don’t stop there. Maintain contact with your customers to guarantee that they consider you for their next purchase. Let them know about new product releases and how they can benefit from them.

Without a CRM platform, you can easily lose track of all the intricate relationships you’re building. If you’re a growing company, consider Leadscore: it’s simple, affordable, and powerful.

4. Stay responsive.

As a sales person, how many times have you been discouraged by silent telephones and empty inboxes?

It helps to flip the board every once in a while and place yourself in the shoes of your prospects. If you’re unresponsive or late, your prospects could turn cold because they believe you don’t respect or value their time.

But people are forgetful. As you begin to scale, it quickly becomes impossible to rely on memory for all your unique interactions.

The solution? Using a CRM like Leadscore can help you stay on top of responsiveness thanks to built-in notifications and alerts. Be notified when prospects open emails or click links, so you can reach out when the fire is hot.

5. Be positive. Always.

And this doesn’t just mean smile and dial. And it certainly doesn’t mean faking a chipper attitude (people hate that).

As a sales rep, especially one that works off commissions, it’s very easy to get the blues when you hit a rut.

If you’re working on a leaderboard system, it’s easy to get distracted by your poor performance and benchmark against colleagues. If you’re in that situation, it’s helpful to remember the 80/20 rule: it states that 20% of salespeople make 80% of the sales and thereby earn 80% of the money.

But more importantly, every person in the top 20% started in the bottom 20%. Everyone who is doing well today was once doing poorly.

Your positivity won’t only keep you afloat, but it will also make your sales actions more convincing and enjoyable to interact with.

6. Persevere through anything.

You’re going to get knocked down. A lot.

Whether it’s dozens of botched cold calls, or a few ‘sure’ deals that end up falling through, you’re bound to hit a few walls along the way.

The difference between good sales reps and great ones is their ability to get back up.

The key to breaking through the barrier? Careful analysis. Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is the definition of insanity.

Assess what is not working, and scratch that plan. Plan, create a new strategy, improve, and move on.

7. Gain thick skin. You’ll be thankful for it later.

It’s true that you should be personal when making sales. But when things hit the fan, don’t take it personally.

Rejection is a huge part of the game. In fact, the better sales person you are, the more rejection you are likely to have experienced.

People hang up on cold calls. Prospects flat out reject your proposal over email. Most of your interactions will be ignored.

8. Be honest.

The most negative stereotype in sales is that of the snake-oil salesman. It’s the oldest one in the book. Why?

Because people hate being duped and/or lied to. Amateur salespeople begin to incorporate small, white lies into their sales processes and are intrigued by the positive responses early on. This will catch up to you, and you will fail. Why?

Because they fear being honest: by telling it how it is, they feel like prospects will immediately be turned off by the proposal.

Be honest. Prospects value transparency above all other values. If there is something missing in your proposal and a prospect asks an honest take, don’t fib your way out of it; use the opportunity to personalise your proposal further.

9. Failure is an option.

In most lines of work, failure is frowned upon. In sales, it’s essential. It’s everywhere.

Let me put it this way. No one woke up one morning, wrote a sales pitch, and went on to sell to a million people over, and over, and over again. Overnight success is a myth, and you should run away from those pipe dreams immediately.

Success in sales is a bumpy road paved in failures of varying sizes and severity. Trial and error is the name of the game. Fail, learn, improve, repeat. Focus on not making the same mistake twice.

Pro tip: sales mentors are the best teachers not because they have all the right answers, but they can share their wisdom and experience on all of the wrong answers. Find a mentor and have them accelerate your learning by providing you with key failures they have worked through in the past.

10. No means no (but not always).

If you’re going to work in sales, be prepared to hear the word ‘no’. A lot. Like all day.

As a salesperson, you need to learn to read the different kinds of ‘no’. While you should never give up after just one ‘no’, there’s a huge difference between being pushy and being persuasive. Become aware of this difference.

Remember, time is a dwindling resource: a firm no really does mean no, and you’re wasting your time pushing further. Wasting your time on no’s can take a huge block of your time. Learn when to move on.

11. Listen more. Talk less.

In sales, you’re expected to have a quick tongue. But you’re not going to get very far dishing out monologs all day.

The goal of your sales calls and emails should be to open up platforms for your prospects to speak. This gives you an opportunity to listen to their specific needs, which will help you personalize your pitch.

There is a stereotype (probably promulgated by film) that great sales people stand up on a podium, spit out a script or demo, and walk out with bags of money. In reality, far more time is dedicated to responding to the people you are selling to, and letting them tell you what they want to accomplish.

12. Become a better storyteller.

Storytelling is the one of the hottest new trends in sales. By appealing to both emotion and reason, storytelling can be far more effective than straight pitching.

There is a scientific reason for this. Paul Zak, a proponent of neuroeconomics, found that stories are highly engaging and contain procedural elements we have become used to, like rising action, climax, and denouement. The effect of this familiarity is a powerful empathic response triggered by the release of oxytocin, a hormone that corresponds with trust building in humans.

Don’t want to bore you with the science, but if you’re interested, you can learn more about Zak’s studies here. The tl;dr: telling stories elicits chemical responses in the brain that are more convincing than old-school pitching.

13. Know your data, avoid the guesswork.

You cannot analyse what you do not measure. I cannot stress this point hard enough.

Your assumptions, more often than not, are killing you. Unless you’re able to support them with concrete data, then throw them to the side.

I’ve spoken to clients before who have claimed that their “company is too small for analytics”. This is another false, and damaging, idea.

Large companies don’t invest heavily into developing analytics and reporting platforms just because they are larger; they do it because it is an effective way to create strategies.

Leadscore comes with built-in analytics and reporting for your emails, calls, and campaigns. You can use this data to make stronger strategic decisions, and pin point what actions are helping/hurting your bottom line.

14. Learn how to build rapport.

In your opinion, what percent of people are trustworthy?

A CBS/NYT poll asked the same question, and respondents answered, on average, around 30%. Not great, but not terrible.

But the same poll then asked the group the question with a slight change: “What percent of people that you know are trustworthy?”. The answer? More than 70%. That’s a huge difference. Why?

Because building rapport is the first step towards gaining someone’s trust. By building rapport, you are showing that you understand the particular situation your customer or prospect is in. That you have walked in their shows and understand how they are feeling.

Once you have broken the ice and made your contact more comfortable, they are far more likely to share their aspirations and afflictions with you. This is key to understanding their demands.

If you’re wondering how you can put this idea into practice, the Rain Group provides a list of rapport-building questions readily available here.

15. Say thank you more often.

Those two words can make a whole world of difference in sales. Saying ‘thank you’ isn’t just common courtesy, it’s a sign of respect. When closing a deal, show your customer that you value them for more than just the time and money they have spent on you. I guarantee it will pay off.

Think about it—in an environment where recurring customers account for a huge portion of revenue, and new business is becoming increasingly difficult to acquire, shouldn’t something as simple as expressing gratitude be part of your cycle?

The simple act of thanking your customer makes them feel appreciated and happy about their decision. The result could be several positive referrals which help drive business.

16. Discounts and gifts.

Special offers are a great way to strengthen customer relationships and improve retention.

For recurring customers, a discount is far more than a few bucks shaved off: it’s a message that you value their relationship. Increasing your customer’s lifetime value can be as easy as showing that you appreciate their business.

Moreover, special offers make people feel good. Paul Zak, of the same neuroeconomics fame mentioned above, found that recipients who received small (5% or less) coupons received a boost in oxytocin levels and were 11% happier than those who did not receive the coupon.

17. Know your product

This seems obvious but is often forgotten. Knowing what you’re selling is a prerequisite; knowing what you’re selling well is a game changer.

Do whatever it takes to study your product through and through. If you’re unable to answer a question during a call, you will seem unprepared and often lose the prospect.

That being said, it’s inevitable you will receive some questions that are complete curve balls. Record these questions and be prepared to answer them in the future.

18. Know your prospect

So you know what you’re selling. Now it’s important to know who you are selling to.

Researching a prospect ahead of time is half the battle. But you can really get a upper hand if you research the company, industry, competitors, and any other information that can make you appear more informed. There is no such thing as too much research (if you’re focusing on the right things).

Make sure you nail the background check on who you are selling to. Are you speaking to an influencer, a decision-maker, or someone completely irrelevant to what you are trying to achieve?

For example, at Leadscore, we sell and market to sales managers and team leaders who have the power to make a decision regarding company software. Selling to an R&D team would bring no benefit or real connection.

This seems obvious, but reps are quick to jump the gun on who they are reaching out to. Use tools like LinkedIn or Angel List to look into prospects and better understand their role and position, and to see if there is a better contact to reach out to (or be referred to).

19. Know your customer’s customer.

What do you know about your customer’s customer? If you’re hesitating to give a confident answer, stop now. Before you wing it and blurt out some nonsense, take a moment and give the question some cold, hard thought.

Mark Hunter put it best: we can argue all we want that our customer is the customer, but in fact our customer is not our customer but really our customer’s customer. Tongue twister, I know, but a true statement nonetheless.

As salespeople, we need to challenge ourselves to be as knowledgeable about our customers as we are about our prospects.

Think of how much better your pitch will be when you impress your prospects with a firm understanding of their business process.

20. Help your prospect understand that they have a problem.

Ready for a cold, hard truth? Okay. Here it is. Nobody cares about the product you’re selling. No-bo-dy.

And that’s okay. But they do overwhelmingly care about their own problems.

In the discovery phase with your prospect, ask pertinent questions and determine whether or not they have a problem.

Once you have determined that a problem exists, ask to arrange a meeting (in person or digitally) and present the problem in detail. Focus on why they have to do something about the problem, and the consequences if they choose to do nothing.

If you’ve done your homework properly, your prospects will understand that something needs to be done to overcome their obstacles.

21. Sell a solution to that problem.

Now that you have helped your prospect understand that they have a problem that needs fixing, what better opportunity to sell your product or service as a solution?

Tailor your pitch presentation to show exactly how your product or service aims solve the issue, and what the outcome will look like. You will find that your hit rate will increase drastically.

22. Use fear to your advantage.

Contrary to popular belief, fear actually makes you sell better. It shows you care.

It’s completely normal to be nervous before a presentation or important call. Whether or not you let fear hurt your performance is make-or-break for many salespeople.

Moreover, fear is a persuasive emotion. If you can make your prospect aware of a fear—like losing clients to competitors—you will find yourself with increased leverage.

As Russ Henneberry describes on the CrazyEgg blog, fear helps sales in two ways:

  1. Perceived vulnerability—in other words, “How likely is it to hurt me?”
  2. Perceived severity—”how bad is it going to hurt?”

If you’re able to effectively instil fear in your prospect, you’ll be able to sell them a solution to quell their fears. Paraphrasing David Foster Wallace, “create an anxiety only relievable by purchase”.

23. Use open-ended questions

Open-ended questions are powerful. By giving the floor to your prospect, you’re able to gather information about their particular situation, qualify the sales opportunity, and establish rapport.

The key to open-ended questions? Let the prospect or customer control the direction. Avoid leading, prompting, or interrupting.

As a sales professional, know your list of open-ended questions like the back of your hand. If you haven’t made your list yet, fear not: Sam Parker of JustSell has an awesome list here.

I recently had a call with the team at Growbots, an innovative lead generation company. Before the demo really began, I was asked a few questions, but these stuck with me:

  1. What is Leadscore trying to achieve?
  2. What kind of obstacles are you hitting?
  3. Which features are you looking for?

These were asked before the demo, for a specific reason. Not only was the demo catered to my specific needs, but it also answered the concerns I raised in my responses.

24. Technology is your friend

Rolodexes, pen and paper agendas, spreadsheet CRMs… Too many sales teams shoot themselves in the foot with outdated technology.

The modern salesperson needs to embrace tech and new tools that help them achieve more.

For startups and growing companies, technology is essential to scale. You will be unable to constantly grow your sales team, but you can ensure that your existing team is more productive and successful.

Leadscore comes with built-in sales, marketing, and automation tools that can make double or triple your rep’s output. Check out our landing page to learn more.

25. Invest in sales software

Now that we understand that technology is here to help, invest in tools that accelerate your workflow. You can be the next Zig Ziglar, but without the proper tools at your fingertips, your competitors will outsell you.

The best growing companies invest in their sales teams, and they invest often.

Read our blog post on why small businesses need affordable CRM to grow, and why Leadscore could be a great match for your sales objectives.

26. Write better cold emails

I receive hundreds of terrible emails a week. Unsolicited newsletters, poorly-automated message by lazy recruiters (yeah, we see you), and poor attempts at personable reach-outs.

What’s the goal of a cold email? If you answered anything other than “to get it read”, then you’re wrong.

So what’s the purpose of the first sentence of your email? To get the second sentence read. And so on.

Master cold emailing and you won’t regret it. The YesWare blog offers some proven formulas for cold emailing you can learn from here.

27. Every prospect is different.

Throw your one-size-fits-all strategy in the bin. It simply won’t work.

There has never been a time where people are being sold to more than now. Prospects are saturated with offers and propositions on every screen and from every direction. But all these attempts look exactly the same.

Personalization helps you stand out, and will easily propel you to the top of the pile.

Once again, put yourself in your customer’s shoes: how many times have you received a crappy cold email and ended up buying? Probably never.

But once in a blue moon, you receive an awesome email that’s human and you begin a dialogue. Learn from those situations.

28. Adapt to your surroundings.

Most sales teams, even those at wildly successful companies, use formula selling: a standardised approach based on a fixed sequence of steps which does not change with the buying situation. But this is proving to be an outdated strategy and can actually work against you, especially if you’re a smaller, growing company.

The trend is shifting towards adaptive selling, or a customised sales approach based on the response and style of the customer. Adaptive selling allows the salesperson to pay attention to the customer’s unique situation, searching for their needs and then giving a customised presentation of the service or product.

The modern salesperson is a rapid learner. Being flexible and open to adapting your process will make sure that your tactics don’t become outdated.

29. Benchmark your goals.

Benchmarking is used far and wide to drive change, from the financial industry to supply chain management. It applies just as well to sales and marketing.

Benchmarking is a powerful tool because it helps teams challenge existing performance indicators. Most importantly, benchmarking can help indicate where current practices fall short of best practice.

Here are some of the key benefits of benchmarking, and how they can help you reshape strategy as a result:
• Uncover and record hidden links between process and result. What if you are actually unaware of why you are selling well? If you don’t take advantage of this information, you will be unable to share it across your team and scale the strategy.
• Create a culture around objective review goals and data. As previously mentioned, assumptions kill. Benchmarking can you help your team objectively assess goal-tracking methods and reduce the subjectivity of results, making more reliable and better
• Provide evidence to support business cases for change. Change is hard to implement if you’re unable to prove that a problem exists. Goals and benchmarks make this far more simple—if we aren’t meeting our goal, we are doing things wrong.

30. Take advantage of social media

Social selling, or the use of social media in sales processes, is buzzing. Many reps have integrated Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other networks into their workflow.

Try running a Google search on your prospect. Check in on their social accounts to find out more about their interests, recent activity, favorite bars, etc. You will know your prospect better and be able to establish rapport more easily.

31. Optimize your sales cycle.

Every business has a typical sales process and pipeline, usually taking the form of a defined sequence of steps. But the best businesses are able to move within these steps and parameters in order to personalise their selling process to a prospect’s unique needs.

An analogy would be that the sales process is like a map guiding you from prospect to customer, with key steps illuminated along the way. Optimising then would be like finding shortcuts to get to the destination faster.

An effective way to optimise your cycle is by creating a ideal customer profile. By imaging what a perfect customer is, you can imagine a sales process that is bespoke to them.

If you’ve done good research and created a great ideal customer, then practice selling to them. Do they really need a pre-demo call? Can you eliminate a step by reaching out to higher-order employees and decision makers? Should you streamline two steps into one to shorter your sales cycle?

32. Use the power of FUD

FUD is a sales term that stands for FearUncertainty, and Doubt. Sounds scary, but these are extremely powerful emotions. FUD should be used correctly to develop one of the strongest tools in your sales arsenal: pressure.

Putting pressure on your prospects using FUD will lead to a serious consideration of your product.

If you’re selling SaaS software to a business, mention that you’re also in conversations with their competitors. Don’t overdo it; mentioning it clearly once can help sway your prospect.

33. Word choice is important.

Always think before you speak/press send. Take a few moments to assess your word choice; are you communicating your point well?

Think about the last time someone cut ahead of you in line for a coffee or food. What works better: “Can I cut in front of you?”, or “I have to catch a train in 5 minutes, can I cut in front of you?”.

Phrases and word choice can make a huge difference in the way you sell.

For example, take the word ‘actually’. Most sales reps throw the word around harmlessly, but it actually comes off as hostile. Take this exchange:

“Hey, I can’t seem where to find the settings button on Leadscore.”

“Actually, it’s located on the left side menu bar!”

The word simply makes your counterpart feel as if they were wrong about something. A much better response would have been:

“Sure thing! You can find the settings tab on the bottom of the left side menu bar”.

A single word can make a huge difference.

34. Improve, Improve, Improve.

Sales is an art, not a science. There will always be room for improvement, new things to learn, and new ways to optimize your workflow.

As a rule of thumb, I dedicate a block of my schedule for improvement. Depending on your schedule, this can take different forms:

  • Reviewing your analytics and reports to see where you could be performing better
  • Improving presentations, sales copy, and dialling scripts
  • Asking for feedback from colleagues and customers
  • Practice pitching with reps in your team

Now go out there and sell! If you’d like to know any more about any of these sales tips, reach out to us at support@leadscore.io and we’ll be glad to chat.

Want to take your sales and marketing to the next level? Try Leadscore for 30 days, free of charge.