Article | 11 min read

How to sell anything: 11 proven, easy sales tips

No matter what industry you’re in, you can learn how to sell anything. Start selling like a star sales rep by following the best tips of the trade.

By Donny Kelwig, Contributing Writer

Published February 17, 2022
Last updated March 9, 2022

We’ve all heard the saying “a good product sells itself.” If only that were universally true.

People might line up for the release of the newest iPhone, but it’s not only because of the product itself. It’s also because Apple has spent decades building impeccable brand credibility, a unique customer experience, and fantastic customer support. The phone is a perk of a fantastic sales experience.

No matter the product, a skilled and knowledgeable salesperson is always going to prevail over an underprepared one. So if you’re looking to increase your sales, read on for 11 tips and strategies that will boost your numbers and propel you forward.

1. Explore new sales techniques

Sales is one of the fastest-changing industries out there. Between social, economic, and emotional shifts in the market, staying on top of trends and best practices is a constant battle. If you want to improve your sales skills, the best thing you can do is be curious about new sales techniques.

If you want to improve your sales skills, the best thing you can do is be curious about new sales techniques.

Whether you’re looking for the right approach to close that one difficult sale or trying to increase your overall numbers, a willingness to try new tactics is a surefire way to improve your odds.

If you’re searching for resources, try skimming annual sales trends reports. Many companies publish these types of reports every year, and you can use them to learn about the current sales landscape and what you can do to achieve success.

2. Do your research

how to sell

In an ideal world, a prospect is engaged and interested in the product you’re selling, and you don’t have to work too hard to convince them to buy. But you can’t have it that easy if you haven’t done your homework. Take the time to research your qualified leads and learn everything you can about them.

Then, get them talking with open-ended sales questions:

  • Can you tell me more about your business?
  • Can you walk me through your typical day?
  • What are your short-term and long-term business goals?
  • What are the key issues preventing you from achieving those goals?
  • Have you tried to address these issues in the past?
  • Have budget constraints been an issue before?
  • How does your company evaluate new products or services?
  • Is your business still struggling with [insert problem]?

If you already know the answers to some of these questions, have follow-up questions ready to go.

Asking questions is a great way to get your prospect to pitch to themselves. A lot of people don’t want to be told what they need, but if you encourage your prospects to open up, they’re more likely to trust you and ask you about a potential solution.

3. Try SPIN selling for complex sales

Sometimes, you get hit with a difficult or complicated sale, and your tried-and-true tactics just aren’t working. This is a good time to turn to SPIN selling. The acronym stands for different types of questions:

  • S: Situation
  • P: Problem
  • I: Implication
  • N: Need-payoff

The primary goal of SPIN selling is to help you learn more about a prospect’s unique needs and pain points. Instead of focusing on closing the sale, you work with your prospect to address serious problems in their company and look at the benefits of finding a solution. It’s a more in-depth way to explore the sales questions we described above.

In some cases, you don’t need to sell your product—you simply need to get a prospect to see the benefits of investing in something that will help them.

4. Adopt a consultative sales approach

In 2021, 81 percent of consumers did online research before buying. Prospects who do their research don’t need a foundational pitch; they likely already know about you and your company. Instead, you must focus on guiding them to the right product to solve their problem.

If someone researches your product beyond a single ad click, you don’t need to win their interest—you need to build brand credibility and deliver incredible customer support and advice. With consultative selling, you’re assuming your prospect wants to buy. Under this assumption, you never pressure them to make a purchase. You’re simply there to answer whatever questions they have along the way.

If someone researches your product beyond a single ad click, you don’t need to win their interest—you need to build brand credibility.

This sales style is especially useful for B2B sales. When your prospects also work in business, they’re rarely going into a sales conversation blind. You’ll go farther if you can respect the research they’ve done and meet them on equal ground.

5. Personalize your sales presentations

We know how hard it is to fine-tune a sales presentation, so this can seem like too much work. But keep in mind that a key piece of your presentation is offering specific solutions to specific problems—and not every prospect is going to have the same issue.

It’s great to create a reusable template, but when you tailor it to make each presentation unique, you generate better sales opportunities.

Before you start a sales presentation, look at your prospect and make sure you can answer the following questions:

  • What is their brand’s identity?
  • What are their brand values?
  • Who are their customers?
  • What are their main pain points?
  • What product are they currently using?

If you’re far enough into the sales pipeline that you’re giving a sales presentation, you should be able to answer those questions and fit the answers into your pitch.

6. Focus on the human—not the product

how to sell

You believe in your company and your product, and that probably shows in your pitches. Unfortunately, in the current market, companies aren’t selling products—they’re selling experiences. In fact, 80 percent of customers say they’re more likely to do business with a company if it offers personalized and positive experiences.

80% of customers say they’re more likely to do business with a company if it offers personalized and positive experiences.

That’s not to say your product isn’t important, but consider whether your product should be the focal point of your selling strategy. We’ve talked a bit about this before, but truly unique products are rare nowadays. The competition in today’s market is fierce. Your company likely can’t afford to develop new features and products every week, so the way to win customers is through superior, personalized experiences.

Personal selling is a longer game than product-based pitching, but it pays off with a higher percentage of repeat customers and referrals.

Embrace social sales

One simple way to incorporate personal selling into your sales tactics? Use social media. If you’re a larger company and firmly out of the startup or mom-and-pop phase, it may seem difficult to capitalize on personal sales. Social selling allows you to connect with consumers on that deeper level.

When you interact with customers on your social media pages, even if it’s just to “like” a comment, you get rid of the “big company” vibes and bring the customer into your circle. Social media followings also provide unique marketing opportunities (i.e., giveaways) that traditional marketing doesn’t.

Improve your sales process

A good sales process is the foundation of any successful sales organization. Learn how to improve your sales process and close more deals.

7. Abide by a strong code of ethics

The days of “the ends justify the means” are long gone. Not only is it unethical and icky to lie your way into a sale, but it can also be damaging to your company.

Ethical selling is always the way to go. This approach is all about keeping customers’ best interests at heart and being honest about how your product or service can improve their lives. It ensures your products and your brand hold up to scrutiny under the public eye.

If a customer asks about a product feature and your product doesn’t have it, don’t lie about it. You’ll just end up with an angry customer and a refunded item. Instead, be transparent about limitations and then pivot to what the product does have. You can even use this as an opportunity to cross-sell if you have a product that’s better suited to the customer’s needs.

Aside from being the morally right thing to do, ethical selling also helps you gain customer trust because you’re favoring honesty over trickery.

8. Anticipate sales objections

Sales objections are a natural part of sales, no matter how high up in the industry you go. Always prepare for sales objections so you can toss them away and get back to the positive aspects of the conversation.

The most common sales objections include:

  • Lack of trust (usually from first-time buyers)
  • Price of the product (too expensive)
  • Bad timing (“it’s just not the right time”)
  • Lack of need (the product doesn’t solve a problem for the prospect)
  • Lack of authority (the prospect doesn’t have the authority to sign off on a deal)
  • Product objection (the prospect doesn’t like the product)
  • Complacency (the prospect is “fine with the way things are”)
  • Loyalty to other brands (the prospect is currently in a deal with a competitor)

You don’t need to conquer all these objections—if a prospect can’t get out of their current contract with another company, they’re not going to buy from you. But try to predict which objections you may encounter based on what you know about the prospect. Having a response ready to go means you won’t fumble when an objection pops up.

For example, if a prospect complains about the price, you have a few different options:

  • Offer a payment plan
  • Emphasize the value of the product vs. the cost
  • Engage them in a conversation about prices for similar products

Any of these options is a stronger move than insisting they should “just buy it.”

9. Upsell and cross-sell only when appropriate

Upselling and cross-selling are tricky beasts, but the keys to making them work are:

  • Knowing when to throw them into the conversation
  • Knowing who might be interested

Many companies have a one-size-fits-all approach to upselling or cross-selling, but that’s not necessarily the best way to generate revenue. If you’re dealing with a prospect who barely made it over the finish line, for instance, pushing yet another product on them could push them away from the company.

New customers need time to develop brand loyalty and an appreciation for the product. As a result, upselling and cross-selling work best on repeat customers. People who already like your products are more likely to be interested in additional pitches because they trust your company and understand the value of what you’re offering them.

Everyone wants to sell as much as they can, but it’s crucial to evaluate each individual customer and ensure the offer won’t do more harm than good.

How do you know if someone will be open to an upsell or cross-sell?

  • The prospect hasn’t raised huge sales objections throughout the process.
  • The prospect is interested in multiple products and is having a hard time making a decision.
  • The buyer is a repeat customer with a clear purchase history that indicates interest in other products.
  • The prospect’s pain points can be better addressed by a higher-tier product or a combination of products.
  • The prospect is financially capable of purchasing additional or higher-end products.
  • You’re able to offer an upsell or cross-sell as part of a discounted bundle with the original product.

10. Stop focusing on closing

how to sell

If you only care about closing sales, it’s time for a shift. Even if your overall goal is to hit or exceed your quota, you won’t find success if you’re stressing about the numbers. When you’re focused on the close and not on the sales journey, you’re more likely to repel your prospects—they can tell when you just care about the deal and not them.

When you’re focused on the close and not on the sales journey, you’re more likely to repel your prospects.

Instead, concentrate on strengthening the steps of your sales pipeline and start looking at each step as a win. Getting a prospective buyer to reach out to you is a win. Convincing a prospect to sign up for an initial meeting is a win. Establishing an ongoing relationship with a potential client is a win.

At the end of the day, you don’t have a lot of control over whether or not a prospect opens their wallet. The best you can do is pave the way for a strong relationship and present a solution the client can’t wait to buy.

11. Manage your sales with a CRM

We cannot stress this enough—you’re behind the competition if you’re not tracking your sales, communications, and customer data with a CRM.

With a powerful CRM like Zendesk Sell, you can track your sales KPIs and data with unparalleled speed and accuracy, give your team anytime access to client profiles, segment prospects, and build automation into your sales pipeline. When you can leave the busywork to your CRM, you have more time and energy for your prospects.

Request a demo today and watch what happens when sales reps can focus on the prospect, not the paperwork.

Improve your sales process

A good sales process is the foundation of any successful sales organization. Learn how to improve your sales process and close more deals.

Improve your sales process

A good sales process is the foundation of any successful sales organization. Learn how to improve your sales process and close more deals.

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