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Effective Sales Techniques

    What is a sales technique?

    Sales techniques are methods used by sales professionals to encourage customers to buy a product or service and to guide them through the process. Sales techniques vary significantly depending on the product, the customer and the sales environment. To improve your skills as a salesperson, you should consider a wide variety of possible techniques. Here are some examples of effective sales techniques:

    SPIN selling

    The SPIN sales technique focuses on the quality of questions a salesperson asks. SPIN is an acronym for the four sales types of questions on which this technique is based:

    1. Situation questions

    These questions help the sales professional understand the customer. Each customer has a unique reason for buying a product, and understanding those motivations serves as the foundation of the entire sales cycle.

    Situation questions help you to develop a relationship with your potential customer and transitions naturally into the other types of questions. In the example of a salesperson selling inventory tracking software, possible situation questions might include:

    • What kind of software are you using to manage your inventory today?

    • How many products are you managing with your current inventory software?

    • Does your inventory software integrate with your bookkeeping software?

    • How do you manage returns with your current inventory software?

    2. Problem questions

    This type of question identifies issues that the customer needs to solve. These questions can develop over time as conversations with the potential customer reveal more information. A sales professional should adjust questions based on any new information that the customer may share throughout the sales process.

    These questions help a salesperson fully address how their product or service might be the solution to the customer’s problem. Considering the same example, here are some suggestions for problem questions:

    • How long does it take your current inventory software to respond to customer service issues?

    • When did your software provider increase the annual price?

    • How does your warehouse and fulfillment team feel about your current inventory software?

    • Has your current inventory software ever created issues for your accounting team?

    4. Implication questions

    These questions lead the potential customer to look at the consequences their problems are causing. Customers will often overlook issues until they see a measurable impact on their business.

    This step in the process is where a sales professional needs to exercise good judgment. While you want your prospect to realize that your product or service could solve their problems, you want to make sure you have a relationship established before asking sensitive questions or making assumptions about their business.

    • How have the issues with asset tracking in your accounting software affected your ordering process?

    • Have incorrect inventory counts led to losing customers?

    • Have incorrect inventory counts led to unneeded ordering from your manufacturer?

    • Does the lack of shipping capabilities mean you have to keep more inventory on hand than you would like?

    6. Need-payoff questions

    This type of question asks the value of the solution being sold. These questions will help work the potential customer toward closing and also establish how much they will pay for the product or service. The goal for a sales professional is to use need-payoff questions to show the client how their solution cannot only solve their problem but also grant them further benefits.

    • How much money could you have saved on unneeded orders last year if your inventory counts were accurate?

    • Would your sales increase with the ability to drop ship inventory?

    • How efficiently would your warehouse run with better inventory tracking?

    • Could you shorten delivery times if you could identify inventory location faster?

    SPIN selling puts the potential customer at the center of the sales process. Rather than stating the value of your solution, you lead the prospect to understand that value on their own by asking well-developed questions.

    Solution selling

    Solution selling is another sales method, in which the sales professional acts as a consultant or expert on their solution. This method is valuable when working with highly specialized products or services.  Educating the prospect is a part of the sales process with this technique. A salesperson is looking to sell their offering as a full solution to the customers’ problem.

    Solution selling methods change depending on the situation, but salespeople typically use a variation of the following steps:

    1. Prepare

    In the initial stage of solution selling, a salesperson should research their potential customer’s largest problems and how their solution can address these issues.

    2. Prospect

    Armed with research on the problems their potential customers may face, a sales professional seeks out buyers with these issues.

    3. Qualify

    In solution selling, a salesperson needs to identify the decision-making unit (DMU) early. This is the person or group of people in the organization that would make the buying decision. If the prospect is not a part of the decision-making unit, the salesperson should continue to prospect. During qualification, a salesperson also wants to find out the potential customer’s interest in their product and the potential budget.

    4. Educate

    This is the step of solution selling that makes it different from other sales methods. Rather than selling a customer on the value of the product or service, a salesperson works to educate a customer on the problem they face and how their solution can fix it.

    A sales professional using solution selling must be an expert on their solution and how it can bring value to their prospect. They must be able to answer every question that may come up in the education process and be able to differentiate their solution from competitors.

    5. Present

    The customer is ready to review the solution, and how it can bring them a return on their investment. In this stage, a salesperson will show the value of their solution and establish similarities between the prospect and existing customers that have seen success.

    6. Close

    Once a salesperson has faced all remaining objections from their prospect, they are ready to close the sale. Make sure to thank the customer for their business and provide contact information in case they have any further questions.

    SNAP selling

    SNAP selling technique focuses on how salespeople communicate with the customer. The acronym stands for:

    1. Keep it simple

    Technical jargon and advanced terminology often confuse or alienate the customer. Present your pitch as concisely and efficiently as possible. The quicker the customer can understand the purpose of what you are selling, the more likely they are to see how buying it would benefit them. A focused pitch is an effective pitch.

    2. Be invaluable

    Your primary goal as a salesperson is to help the customer see how your product can benefit them. This means showing them how valuable your product or service is. To do this, you will need to know a little about them and their situation as it relates to your product. Ask questions, be creative and put the customer’s needs first.

    3. Align

    In order to follow this step, you will need to think quickly and be adaptable. Following this step means aligning yourself with the needs, concerns and goals. The customer’s perspective dictates this part of the conversation. You will need to politely counteract any opposing points they raise by empathizing with them and showing them how your product can benefit them.

    4. Raise priorities

    This step relates to your plan of action while selling. Raising priorities means always keeping the important things at the forefront of your mind. Your methods as a salesperson should all be working toward a single goal. Remembering your priorities throughout the interaction ensures your professionalism and the quality of your work.

    RAIN selling

    The RAIN method uses questioning techniques to effectively pitch the value of the product or service to the customer. RAIN stands for:

    1. Rapport

    Building rapport with the customer is a crucial step toward a successful sale. Rapport involves connecting with the customer and building a meaningful relationship. Rapport should be a means toward creating a genuine connection, not a superficial one. If your customer trusts you and relates to you, you are likely to win their loyalty and commitment.

    2. Aspirations and Afflictions

    This double-A step involves ascertaining both a customer’s goals and their setbacks. Aspirations refer to the objectives the customer is working toward but has not achieved. Selling your product as something that will help them on their journey to their goals is just as important as providing solutions to their afflictions.

    3. Impact

    The word impact refers to the consequences of the customer either buying or not buying your product. Will their life be improved if they buy from you? Will their affliction continue if they do not? Is your product the most efficient option on the market? Answer these questions in your pitch and show the customer that your product or service will make a difference.

    4. New Reality

    Describe to your customer what their life will be like after they buy your product. Make this reality seem personalized and tangible. Quantify your claims using statistics or customer reviews, if possible. Showing your customer a before-and-after picture is an effective way to communicate what your product can do for them.


    Tips for using sales techniques effectively

    Build a personal brand

    In some ways, the customer is not just buying the product, they are buying you. It is important to present yourself as reliable, trustworthy and honest. Creating a clear and trustworthy brand will make your customer more likely to recommend your product or service to their friends.

    Keep reaching out

    Try not to let rejection distract or dishearten you. If a customer closes a door, send a follow-up email and move on to your next prospect. Salespeople are told “no” often, but persistence is an essential quality for the career. Eventually, as your skills continue to improve, your success rate will increase.

    Be positive

    Optimism is often contagious. If you retain a positive attitude while working, you will influence both your coworkers and your clients. Stay determined, even when you feel discouraged, and look for creative solutions to professional roadblocks.

    Prioritize the customer

    Whenever possible, try to see things from your customer’s perspective. Focus on finding common ground and doing whatever you can to make the buying process easier and more enjoyable for them. The customer’s satisfaction is your highest priority because it directly affects the reputation of your employer, their review of your product and your performance rating.

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    These techniques are just some of the methods you can use to become a more effective salesperson. You can use these tips and other Indeed resources to grow as a professional and to further your career. Experimenting with a variety of techniques can help you find the method that best suits you.