30 January 2024

10 Ways to Avoid Becoming an Automaton in Sales

By Ronald Smith

I’m immediately on edge. I know they want to sell me something that I’m almost certain I don’t want to buy (just so you know, I’ve never bought anything from a cold caller).

Can you relate? Why is it that sales make us defensive? Why do salespeople struggle to connect with customers and make us feel like they’re genuinely helping us?

If you work in sales (and as a small business owner, you probably do in some capacity), take these tips to heart and see if they improve your results.

Here’s How to Avoid Becoming a Sales Automaton

1. Get to Know Your Potential Customer

This is a rule that many don’t actually follow. I don’t mean just taking a quick look at their website. I mean really delving deep and understanding what each individual potential customer’s challenges and problems are.

Let’s talk about using big data to your advantage. See, big data gives us a ton of information about what people do online. And you know what? We can use that information to sell stuff better.

2. Find a Better Way to Reach People

So, here’s the thing. Cold calls? Not cool. Most people, including me, don’t respond well to them. So how can a salesperson reach me in a better way? Well, they could start by commenting on my blog posts or tweeting at me. They could show that they actually know what’s going on in my world. That way, they’d have a better chance of getting through to me.

3. Don’t Assume You Know Everything

Let me tell you a little story. Once, someone called me up trying to sell me a $10,000 copier. Now, here’s the thing: I work from home by myself. Why on earth would I need a fancy copier like that? The point is, don’t assume you know what your customer wants. Take the time to understand their needs before trying to sell them something.

4. Pull, Don’t Push

This is where things get interesting, where marketing and sales start to blend together. See, if marketing does a fantastic job of hooking in potential customers with awesome online and social media content, selling becomes a cakewalk.

Now, consumers these days are a whole different breed. They’re fed up with being bombarded with sales pitches. They want to be in control of their own choices.

5. Don’t Be Salesy on Twitter

Here’s the thing: if you follow the tips from my 10 Ways to Avoid Becoming a Social Media Robot post, you’ll be on the right track. Trust me, no one is going to pay attention to a tweet that says, Our product is amazing! Buy it now! Let’s face it, nobody.

Instead, focus on winning the trust of the right audience. How? By sharing helpful content and engaging with them.

6. Get Friendly with Your CRM

As a salesperson, I have to be on top of my game. I can’t afford to make any mistakes. That means I need to have all the information about a potential customer and whether they have been contacted before. It’s frustrating when I get contacted by two different people from the same company within a week. The first time, I wasn’t interested, but the second time, I was really angry.

A quick check on my Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform can tell me if someone from my team has already reached out to the lead.

7. Be Natural, Not Scripted

Just like cold calls, sales scripts are a turnoff. We are all human, so let’s talk like it. When we have a real conversation, even if it’s not directly about our product, we can still learn something about our lead that can help us build a connection and close the sale.

I really wish they would eliminate sales scripts altogether.

8. Stay in the Loop

You know, when it comes to sales and marketing, they go hand in hand. But if sales doesn’t have a clue about what marketing is up to, things can go downhill real fast. In the past, there has been a disconnection between sales and marketing. And let me tell you, that’s a recipe for disaster.

What you need to do is have regular meetings with both departments. Work together, set common goals, and watch the magic happen.

9. Emphasize the Benefits, Forget the Technical Stuff

Here’s the number one mistake in sales: salespeople focus too much on the features of their products. Newsflash: customers don’t care about that. They want to know how your product can make their lives better and solve their problems.

If you can’t explain how your product can solve their problems, then maybe it’s time to rethink your career choices.

10. Open Your Ears

Let me tell you, salespeople can talk. They never seem to run out of things to say. But you want to know the secret? The best sales tool you have is your ability to listen.

Remember what I said earlier: a simple conversation where you actually pay attention to what the other person is saying will take you further than any flashy sales pitch ever will.