Selling Skills vs Sales Techniques: What You Should Really Invest in to Improve Results
by Shawn Karol Sandy, on Oct 30, 2016 3:47:00 PM
*Note: This may ruffle your feathers. Good. If you disagree with me, let me know why.
When I’m speaking at an event with sales pros, many times veteran sellers will approach me and size me up with these questions, “What techniques do you teach?” or “What are the hottest new sales techniques?”
I cringe inside because I’ve never believed that SELLING was about technique. It’s about skill, certainly, but without skill, technique is simply a method.
Technique, by its definition, is an application of specific process. And anyone can adopt a technique. Skill is the variance that makes or breaks the results. Skill is the ability to perform and achieve results. Skill is mastery and requires practice and diligence.
A surgeon, for example, can use a specific suture technique to close an incision, but if they lack skill to perform the procedure, the technique doesn’t matter...you’ll have an ugly scar or possibly wind up with an infection.
Much of the “techniques” referenced in selling are preceded by the word “closing.” Again, another cringe-worthy moment for me in the profession of sales. To think that we can manipulate a customer into making a decision with perfectly phrased questions is ridiculous. The psychology behind closing techniques may have once been effective but with smarter, more educated buyers, it now feels insulting.
Closing a sale in that one singular moment is an old school, outdated notion. Yes. I said it. Closing a deal does not depend on whether you use the Trial Close, the Assumptive Close, the Hurry Up Close, the Future Close, or the Embarrassment Close (Yes, I kid you not. This is a real thing: check out this horrible and antiquated list).
Put yourself in your customer’s shoes: Do YOU want to be trial closed, hurry up closed, or embarrassingly closed?
No? Neither does your customer. STAHP. Just Stop. If you’re employing these techniques to try to “seal the deal” I implore you to look at investing in your skills instead of hoping that technique can do your job for you.
Closing a sale starts way before presenting or proposing. Great sellers invest in their skills to find customers that will appreciate the value they offer, recognize their unique differences, and want to work with you.
Your Selling Skills will effectively create more sales success for you than technique.
Here are 10 skills to invest in to improve results in every stage of the buyers’ process:
Prospecting: knowing where to look for your ideal customers – and knowing specifically what those customers look like.
Engaging: understanding how to quickly and uniquely connect with your future customers.
Prequalifying: effectively and quickly determining if there is a need, want, budget, urgency, or the ability to work with you.
Questioning: knowing how to ask leading questions that frame your solution and uncover the real problems vs symptoms.
Listening: picking up on the verbal and nonverbal cues your prospect gives.
Differentiating: setting yourself apart from their existing solution or your competition.
Demonstrating Value: proving you are worthy of a buyers’ time and investment.
Building Consensus: aligning the influencers and decision makers.
Leading Change Management: demonstrating your ability to successfully guide the implementation and execution of your product/solution.
Collaborating: connecting resources and inspiring team effort with customers.
Ten skills – and none of them involve manipulation or games. What mastering these skills do achieve is stronger relationships with your customers, faster pipeline movement, and more transparency and trust throughout the process.
If you think about what sales techniques you’ve heard of, you’ll realize that there aren’t many that apply throughout each stage of the buyer’s journey. In fact, I couldn’t find any techniques in a web search that didn’t refer to closing. There are differing methodologies in selling, but even these require skill to perform successfully.
Techniques are far inferior to skill. More accurately, techniques are nothing without skill.
There is no magic phrase that can replace the effort it takes to demonstrate the investment in your career or your business.
Focus on improving your skills to achieve results instead of dated sales advice that offends the intelligence of your buyers.