Let’s face it: Selling your product or service can be one of the hardest parts of running a business.
You’ve probably been on the receiving end of some pretty cringe-worthy sales techniques, and you’re eager to avoid repeating those in your business.
While cheesy tactics are undoubtedly common sales territory, the reality is that your sales approach doesn’t have to be pushy or eye-roll inducing to be effective. In fact, these tactics are anything but.
Want to see the 11 best sales techniques that you can use with new prospective clients? Keep reading.
In addition to breaking down each technique and why it works, you’ll also find example formulas for how to use each technique, that you can apply to your own product or service. While they’ll need a bit of customization based on your product or service, and tweaking depending on if you’re pitching via email, phone, or in person, these formulas will give you a sense of how these sales tactics work in action.
So, let’s dive right in—and stick around until the end for even more resources on how to create the perfect sales pitch and close sales effectively, and you’ll be well on your way to a full roster of happy, satisfied clients.
Sales technique #1: The charm of three
Possibly one of the simplest tactics in sales, the “charm of three” refers to identifying three items to convey a point. These could be three pain points your product or service will solve for your prospective client, three benefits they stand to gain from choosing you, three ways your product or service has been used to great success by other clients, and so on.
This sales “charm of three” has been proven effective; the term, coined by scholars at UCLA, refers to the fact that information presented as a set of three is more persuasive than other quantities (and especially more so than information presented in a group of four, which apparently is “alarming”).
“Without [the type of solution you offer], your business is likely to suffer from [pain point #1], [pain point #2], and [pain point #3]. So, [your business’s solution] can help fix these problems by [the way your business solves their pain points].”
Sales technique #2: The necessary decision
What is the main reason you fail to make a sale? Is it because your clients choose to go with your competitor over you?
This might be the reason—but it’s just as likely, if not more so, that you fail to close sales because of a more subtle competitive force: inaction.
It’s true: You will often find that a failure to close a sale is less about your prospect seeking out a competitor, but rather about their indecision as to whether they really need your product or service.
So, this sales technique relies on convincing your client that it is vital to the success of their business that they choose to use the type of product or service that you sell. Of course, you want them to choose you to be their supplier—but the point here is to convince them of the necessity of the service, period.
There are plenty of ways you can do this; for instance, citing a statistic the proves the necessity of your product or service or showing case studies of previous clients or customers who have experienced huge success due to using your service, are two of the most common methods.
“The reality is that businesses that use [your product or service] see an increase/decrease in [X metric], versus businesses that don’t. These days, it’s essential that your business use some type of [your type of product or service] if they want to see [desired result]. [Your type of product or service] really does make a difference in a business’s success.”
Sales technique #3: The narrative
With this one, you reiterate the various characteristics of your product or service, reinforcing its value. It’s essentially a summary; you have undoubtedly illustrated the various attributes your product or service stands to bring to the table throughout your sales pitch, and the narrative helps drive home the close by reiterating all the amazing benefits you’ve highlighted throughout your presentation.
Ultimately, you’re tying everything up in a nice package, reminding your prospective client of value-adds they may have missed, and making it clear that your product or service is truly unmissable. You’re helping your prospective client visualize the real value they will be getting out of the deal, and making a “yes” the easy next answer.
“So, at the end of the day, [your product or service] allows you to [feature #1], [feature #2], and [feature #3]. Does this sound like something that would benefit your business?”
Sales technique #4: The unique differentiator
At this point, you’re probably familiar with the idea of a unique value proposition—also referred to as a unique selling proposition or a differentiator.
Essentially, your unique differentiator is what truly sets your business apart. Why should your prospective client choose to work with you, instead of a competitor? What do you bring to the table that they do not?
Perhaps you have extensive experience in an area that few others in your field have, which gives you unique insight. Maybe your product does what other products do in half the time. Whatever your unique differentiator is, now is the time to lean on it—hard. It is what makes your business different from the rest, after all, so building your close around the fact that there are aspects of your product or service that prospective clients simply can’t get anywhere else is a strong approach to sales.
“Our product can [unique differentiator]; when compared to the other similar products on the market, they honestly don’t have those capabilities, so you won’t be able to do [unique differentiator]. We really believe this aspect is hugely valuable to businesses like yours, because [unique differentiator] helps businesses do [value add] much easier.”
Sales technique #5: The testimonial
Reviews are almost as trusted as personal recommendations, and social proof is still the gold standard when it comes to driving sales. No matter how convincing your sales pitch, people simply trust the word of other satisfied customers more than your own descriptions of your product or service and its benefits.
So, consider working testimonials into your sales pitch as one of your best sales tactics. Finish your presentation by sharing the story of a satisfied customer who saw improvements after using your product or service (via a short video or simply via their quoted text).
“Now that you’ve heard from me about what [your product or service can do], I’d like to share with you some feedback from our customers, who have used our service and seen improvements in their business from it. [Lead into testimonial.]
Sales technique #6: The sense of urgency
Creating specific time constraints around a deal can be a powerful tool to increase the likelihood of closing a sale. However, this approach needs to be used delicately, as I mentioned in my article on how to close a sale. So, don’t lay it on too thick, as this can drive away prospective clients that might otherwise have said yes if given more time to decide.
The key here is to create a sense of urgency, without being too overdramatic or pushy. Offering a discount based on a timeframe, or stating that you’ll be raising your prices in a few months, are examples of effective ways to implement this tactic.
Case in point: I follow a local photographer on Instagram; they recently shared a post stating that they planned to raise the prices of their photography mini sessions at the end of the summer, and that to lock in their old rate, interested customers should book a session before the end of September. Since I’d been considering booking with them at some point anyway, this created a sense of urgency (after all, the pricing was going up in a few months).
So, I booked a session. That was an easy sale made on their end, and they didn’t have to rely on cheesy sales language like “quick, act now before it’s too late!” They simply shared with prospective clients that they would be raising their prices, and so to get in early.
You can easily implement a similar tactic for your product or service, and create this same sense of urgency without coming off as overbearing.
“I’ve been really fortunate to have a lot of increased demand for [your product or service] lately, so as a result I’m booked up/selling out faster than ever. So, I’ll be increasing my prices/rates at [X timeframe]. If you book/order before then, however, you’ll be able to lock in the current price.”
Sales technique #7: The emotional play
We all are impacted by things that tug at our heartstrings, or otherwise play to our emotions. Think of resonant commercials you’ve seen recently—they often involve something heartwarming, sad, or otherwise emotionally-driven.
To use this technique, it’s a good idea to know your prospect well—or as well as you can with a bit of sleuthing. Do the two of you share a common interest (genre of music, running marathons, hometown, or similar) that you can integrate into your conversation with them? Did they recently receive a promotion or something else that deserves congratulations? Consider working this into your sales pitch.
Obviously, the key here is to find a commonality that either works to engender a feeling of common ground between you and your prospective client, or one that relates to your product or service. Be creative, but remain authentic; how can you both make things personal but still tie them back to what you’re selling?
“I noticed on LinkedIn that you recently moved from [x position to y position]. That’s a huge accomplishment—great work. I really think that [your product or service] can help with that change for [list of reasons]. Would you be interested in trying it out?”
Sales technique #8: The appeal to humor
Like an emotional close, the humorous sales technique can be a fantastic way to break down the barrier between yourself and your prospect, lighten the mood, and make them more likely to buy what you’re selling.
Like others on this list, a humorous sales pitch can be very effective—or very, very cheesy. So, it’s definitely important to tread carefully here and think about your prospective client. What do they have to field every day, and how can you truly make them laugh—or at least crack a smile?
There are plenty of different tactics you can take; consider what their most common annoyances are in their role, and see if you can make a joke around that common pain point. Or, self-deprecating humor is great here; after all, few really relish the act of selling, and even fewer love being sold to. The sales situation itself is ripe for a little levity. You can also go the simple route and include a funny gif or image in your email pitch (though be careful here—nothing is more eye-rolling than an ill-placed, incorrectly-used meme in a sales context).
“I know you hate getting sales emails. I hate getting sales emails too—I feel bad even sending you this email because I know how annoying they can be. Would you consider scheduling a quick time to chat so I can stop bothering you? Seriously. I’ll sleep a lot better at night knowing I’m not cluttering up your inbox.”
Sales technique #9: The “this or that”
We hear all the time that too many options can be overwhelming, and that people are more likely to make a decision if they are given a limited number of options.
So, consider working this into your sales pitch, and offer your prospective clients a couple options to choose from (i.e., this or that). These options could related to two different service tiers, two different type of follow-up meetings (“would you like to schedule a Skype call, or can I swing by your office?”), or asking if they would be interested in trying your service now, or if you can follow up at a later date.
This is a great way to encourage your prospective client to choose between the options presented, rather than being overwhelmed by options and do nothing. As I mentioned earlier, your biggest competition is likely just that—inaction. So, using the “this or that” sales technique will encourage prospective clients to actually make a decision.
“I’d love to talk more about [your product or service] with you and learn more about what you’re after. Would you be available for a quick Skype call, or can we set up a short meeting?”
Sales technique #10: The helping hand
You’re not the hero of this story—and neither is your product or service. The real hero? Your prospective customer, who can now run their business better, help serve their customers better, and generally bring their operations to new heights.
Here is a good way to highlight your customer as the hero of the story, and place you and your product or service as the mentor, the helping hand, who is there to help aid them and enable them to reach the new heights you know they are capable of reaching.
Ultimately, selling your product or service can become a bit of a navel-gazing exercise; it’s easy to get caught up in a laundry list of all the great attributes your product or service brings to the table. This sales tactic places the prospect front and center, because, at the end of the day, it really is all about them, and how you can help them do things better.
“I believe that [your product or service] will help you do [XYZ] better, faster, and in a way that helps you provide the best service possible to your customers. It’s important that your customers are taken care of, and I feel that [your product or service] can help take that to new heights.”
Sales technique #11: The question
Sometimes, it’s best to keep it simple. You can rely on simply asking your prospective client if they believe your product or service can help them solve their concerns within their business.
By asking your prospective client for their input in this way, they can vocalize for themselves why your product or service can benefit them—or why they feel that they really don’t need it. The former essentially closes your sale for you, and the latter at least gives you some valuable market research (perhaps cost is prohibitive, in the which case you might want to evaluate your pricing, or maybe you need to slightly reposition your product, and so on).
“I’d like to turn it back over to you—do you feel that [your product or service] solves your problem?”
If you’d like more insight into the sales process, plus more tips and strategies for creating the perfect sales pitch, be sure to check out my recent articles on How to Deliver a Great Sales Pitch, and How to Close a Sale.
Which sales technique do you find most effective? Do you personally respond better to one of these? Have you found one works better (or worse) for your business? Let me know in the comments!