5 Sales Techniques You Need To Know

One of the most essential and difficult jobs in business is sales. There's a reason why top salespeople walk around like rock stars. It's because from a business point of view, they are. They do a hard job. A performance job. An irreplaceable job that quite literally makes or breaks their company. And, very likely, they do it on a regular basis.

Being a successful salesperson doesn't just create confidence – it requires it. There's a chicken and the egg question there: Which came first, the rock star swagger or the good salesperson? The answer is that they feed off one another, but the confidence does have to be there to begin with. That is why some people say that great salespeople are born, not made. But that's not entirely accurate.

Sure, there are natural salespeople. We all know the guy who could sell fire to a snowman. But you, yourself, are also a natural salesperson. There is something that you love. And you could sell that thing to anybody. Learning how to do that with anything – that's how a salesperson is made.

It’s the little things. A subtle gesture. A trick of numbers to make someone not only give you money, but want to. If a salesperson is doing a good enough job, chances are pretty good that the targeted individual won’t be aware of half of what that person is doing. Selling someone something when they are unaware is one thing. Selling someone something when they’re on their guard, aware that they’re being sold? That’s a powerful asset.

Here are five sales techniques, that can help you get started selling, both in your business and personal lives.


5 The Sullivan Nod

You might not think that you're so easily influenced, but waiters the world over have been using a very simple sales technique to upsell diners for years. There aren’t many reliable studies on the technique, but it's influential enough that many waiters swear by it. Quite simply, the Sullivan Nod is nodding your head about 15 degrees, subtly, when you come to the item in a list that you want your customer to purchase. It's also used as a subconscious suggestion when trying to upsell. Supposedly, it works most effectively on lists of five items.

To execute the Sullivan Nod, wait until your customer has decided to buy something with a lot of choices. Give them a choice of five items, “Would you like the Merlot, Chianti, (nod) Riesling, White Zinfandel or Cabernet?” Supposedly, you just influenced your customer to purchase the Chianti. Now you ask, “Would you like a glass or (nod) bottle?”

The Sullivan Nod seems to work best in situations where the price difference isn't too great and the salesperson is seen as a guide, such as at a nice restaurant. According to the originator of the technique, Jim Sullivan, it even works over the phone... which is pretty confusing, really.

4 Door In The Face


Everyone's heard of the foot in the door sales technique, whereby you ask for something small and get it, and then use momentum to get a little more. The door in the face technique is the philosophical opposite.

You use the door in the face technique when you want to make a largish request seem more reasonable. Let's say you need twenty bucks to fill up your gas tank, but you know your tightwad roommate who never even springs for toilet paper would rather give up a pinky than a sawbuck. To get him to part with his greenbacks you instead tell him you desperately need $100 to put towards enough gas to get to work, as well as to help pay the rent. Of course this is refused, and you can then say, “Well... I guess I could get by with just $20. If I'm really careful...”

If you executed this technique right, you've now got a full tank of gas and a smug grin.

3 The Trial Period

Ah, the good old free trial period. It’s a great deal all-around. You're not sure you want whatever service you're being pitched, but take heart, you can try it out for free for a set period of time just to make sure. And there's no risk – if you decide you don't want the service you can cancel it at any time before the end of the trial and never be charged a cent. You get to learn whether you want the service, the company gets a new potential customer, and you end up paying them for something you never really wanted because you just plum forget to cancel.

Yup, that free trial period is usually pretty costly. It's a great, great sales tool. Whenever you're offered a free trial, you'll notice you have to enter your payment information. That way they don't have to ask you for it later. This is the modern version of, “If you're not satisfied, just send the product back and we'll refund your money.”In the old days, that refund method was usually just too much hassle. Much like the mail-back coupons no one ever remembers to send. Only, nowadays, the websites that give you that free trial are usually the sorts that you end up using very infrequently, or just plain forget you ever signed up for.

To execute the Trial Period method, just get an agreement from your customer that they'll pay you if they don't return your product, or that you'll bill them after they've used your service for a set amount of time. That amount of time should be long enough that they forget they ever got it or – in the case of something people end up really liking – that they get attached.

2 Only $9.95!


Or, these days, $19.95. Or, three easy payments of $39.95. Now there are a few reasons why the $0.95 price ending works, but this entry focuses on the specific price. When you offer someone a product at a round-numbered price, that price can seem arbitrary, even made-up on the spot. In the mind of the consumer, that means it's overpriced and that can lead to devaluing the product or some spirited negotiation.

Offering a specific price – say, $172 instead of $160 or $180 – gives the impression that you've really thought the pricing through. There's less room for negotiation. You've gone nearly as low as you can while still maintaining your margin. This is, of course, nonsense. You just want it to seem like you've knocked the price down while you make as much as you can.

To use this technique just keep the last couple of digits of your final price as far from 50 or 100 as you can. 72, 13, 17... if you are argued down from there, it's easier to make smaller adjustments while keeping in your range.

1 Mirroring

Mirroring is exactly what it sounds like. It's the adult version of that game you may have played as a kid where you mimic your friend's movements as best you can, only the goal is not to get punched in the nose but to become your customer's good friend.

People prefer to buy from people that they like. No one wants to give a jerk their money, obviously, but it’s also true that if they feel they like you, then they feel they can trust you. Obviously, it's your job to get their money but, hey, that doesn't mean you're not just one of the guys (or gals). Everybody's got to make a living, right? By the way, how are the kids?

Building rapport is a key tool in any salesman's repertoire, and mirroring is a reliable way to do that. Mirroring is a way to get people to identify with you, think of you as their friend, and get into selling mode.

Mirroring, done right, is very subtle. Match your prospect's posture, tone of voice, style of humor, and general mood. Don't adjust too quickly, but slowly, like a chameleon, become like them. Do it right and they'll be more comfortable with you. Consequently, they’ll be more open to your suggestions. Then it's time to tell them the benefits of your product.


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