Written by: Ken Kupchik
Going against the crowd is difficult for most people. Humans are hardwired to conform so that they can survive in a community of other humans. But salespeople don’t have this luxury. One of the best ways to stay mediocre in sales is by doing what everyone else is doing. Sometimes we have to break free, pound an iced coffee with three extra shots of espresso, and try something that seems counterintuitive.
If you’re grinding it out and not seeing the results you’re looking for, you might want to try something different. Here are some counterintuitive sales methods that could help you close some more deals:
1. Kill more opportunities
Yes, sales opportunities are valuable, but you’re lying to yourself if you believe all prospects are equal. You should understand how to prioritize your opportunities, and when to cut your losses. Time is a finite resource, and spending twice as long with a prospect who’s half as likely to do business is a poor use of your most precious resource. Know when to cut your losses and focus on more promising opportunities.
2. Discuss budget up front
Yes, value is the ultimate determinant of whether or not someone is going to do business, but having the budget discussion up front will prevent you and the prospect from wasting each other’s time. Be transparent and keep the question open-ended, asking something like, “Do you have a budget in mind?” That way you can respond by providing a range of what they can expect if they do business with you. Many clients will appreciate your straightforwardness, and you’ll be able to weed out those whose budget is way outside of your range.
3. The negative close
The negative close challenges the prospect to do business with you by subtly implying that they can’t or won’t do it. You can say something as simple as “Well it sounds like this product might be too advanced for your situation,” or “I get the impression that we’re not the right fit for each other.” This type of close is risky, but can be very effective with the right type of prospect. Make sure you don’t take it too far by insulting the prospect. Subtlety is the key to making this close work for you.
4. When you lose a deal, keep the relationship
So many salespeople give up on a prospect completely or even become hostile after losing a deal. But this is a mistake. If you lose a deal, be courteous, understanding, and professional, and keep the relationship. There are countless scenarios where this could work in your favor, from referrals, to another opportunity to do business down the line. Don’t think short-term if you want long-term sales success.
5. Listen to music to close more deals
Many companies want their sales floor devoid of any noise except that of salespeople pitching and closing deals. This is understandable, but salespeople shouldn’t neglect the power of music to help close more business. Music can change your mood, and there’s not much that’s as important for salespeople as their mood. You listen to music to get pumped up to go to the gym, and you should listen to it to get pumped up to sell. Pop in your headphones, put on whatever music gets you going, and start cranking out emails.
6. Text your prospects
Calling or emailing people is the standard in sales, but texting is becoming more and more popular. You need to communicate with people where they feel the most comfortable, whether it’s on the phone, g-chat, or Skype. And there’s no doubt that most people text these days. Don’t be shy to reach out via text, many people prefer communicating with salespeople that way so that they can formulate their thoughts and negotiate better.
7. Call people early, and late
Most of us are in the office between 9 am and 5 pm, but those aren’t always the best times to reach people. Try calling earlier in the morning to catch people while they’re on their way to work and have time to chat in the car, or later in the day when they’re commuting home. Don’t call anyone too late in the evening though, as that will have the opposite effect.
Related: How to Reignite Cold Leads
8. Talk about the competition
Lots of people say that you shouldn’t talk about the competition because it’s unprofessional, but that’s only if you do it incorrectly. You must be a resource for your clients, and a resource doesn’t just clam up when an uncomfortable topic comes up. If you want to discuss your competition with a client, you need to be knowledgable about their products, their strengths and weaknesses, and how they compare to those of your product. If you frame the discussion correctly, you can use the conversation to close the deal and knock your competition out of the running.
9. Don’t drink caffeine
This might sound like the most insane and counterintuitive sales method in the world, and I will admit that I do not take my own advice when it comes to this topic, but quitting caffeine has worked for a segment of the salesforce. The first few days are hell, and the first several weeks won’t be easy, but once you learn how to function without it, you might be able to maintain a steadier level of energy instead of the highs and lows of severe caffeine addiction. As for the rest of us, we’ll keep our iced coffees, thank you very much.
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