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6 Powerful Sales Techniques Even Non-Salespeople Should Master

6 Powerful Sales Techniques Even Non-Salespeople Should Master
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Even if you are not looking to “close the deal” and get that sweet commission check, knowing how to sell is a skill that always comes in handy, regardless of whether you are in the sales business or not.

Think about it. You are selling yourself every day. Whether it is trying to get your coworkers to back up your ideas or convincing your spouse why your restaurant pick is the better choice, we are constantly selling ourselves.

Knowing some good sales techniques is not only a salesperson skill, but it is also a life skill. If you walk into a job interview feeling confident and knowing how to sell yourself to the employer, you are going to have an advantage over the competition. From dating to getting a loan or landing a promotion, learning how to put solid sales techniques into practice can be a real benefit.

Selling comes naturally to some people, but for others, it can feel awkward and even insincere or opportunistic. If you are unsure of your own sales skills, here are some game-changing sales techniques that will not leave you feeling like a slimy snake oil salesman.

1. Change Your Sales Perception

Before we jump into sales techniques and practices, you must first change your perception of what sales is and is not. Sales techniques are not about pushing somebody into something they do not need, want or cannot afford.

Take the word “selling” out of your vocabulary for a second and replace it with “motivating” because that is what you are doing. Selling is motivating somebody to take action.

Learning how to motivate others to take action that benefits both you and them will pay dividends throughout all stages of your life. To motivate others to take action, you have to actively listen to their needs and know the right way to persuade them into taking that desired course of action.

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Slicking your hair back, throwing on a pair of mirrored sunglasses, and adopting the loud-mouthed and pushy approach is not the way to go about this.

So, what works?

2. Know the Customer

This might sound obvious, but it can be easy to mess up. Knowing the customer means listening genuinely. Research shows most people are not the greatest at active listening. We might seem like we are listening, but we are really just waiting to talk.[1]

Learning to be an active listener takes some practice, but it can help you better know the hypothetical customer that you are selling to. Bill Clinton might not have been a salesman, but he probably would have been a great one. The former president was known for being such a good listener that he made whoever he met feel like they had his undivided attention.[2]

The best salespeople take a genuine interest in the problems that need to be solved. If you fail to know the customer, the rest of your sales pitch is going to be a real uphill climb.

Listening is only part of the battle. There is also preparation. Whether you are trying to sell yourself at a job interview or pitch an idea, going in unprepared is just foolish. Both teams in the Super Bowl know the strengths and weaknesses of the other team. They study their plays and develop a strategy long before the coin toss.

Do some research on your intended audience, and learn to understand what drives and motivates them. You want to find something that allows you to connect with them and speak their language. People want to work with those who they like and who understand their needs.

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3. Show Them the Benefits

A big part of learning how to motivate somebody is to communicate what’s in it for the other person. You already know what’s in it for you, but you need to put yourself in their shoes. You have to convince them why they should hire you for the job or sign on to your idea.

Do not focus on your own agenda, but focus on why it is in their best interest to agree with you. When people buy from a salesperson, they do not do it because they want to make the salesperson happy. They do it because they have a need or problem that requires a solution. It is your job to understand that need and tailor your message to meet their needs.

This is where some of that research and preparation we discussed comes into play. The better you know the other person’s problem or goal they are trying to reach, the better you can convey how your background, talents, and ideas make you the right person for the job.

4. Keep Your Cool

We’ve all heard of the expression “don’t let them see you sweat.” This is sometimes easier said than done, however, and nerves have a real way of throwing a monkey wrench in a sales pitch. There is no magic solution to keeping your cool, but there are certainly a few things that you can do that will help.

Practice what you want to say. This does not mean that you need to memorize verbatim every word of what you plan to say. Nobody likes the feeling that they are being lectured to. Just take a few minutes to get a feel for how your pitch feels coming out of your mouth. The pitch for an idea might sound great in your head, but it may feel disjointed rolling off the tongue.

Even with some practice, it is easy to find yourself in the middle of trying to convey your great idea when the adrenaline kicks in and starts to get the best of you. This is often around the time that people start to get flustered and find themselves rambling or bragging. This sort of thing is a real turn off, and the person you are speaking to will pick up on this.

Slow down for a second and do your best to be conscious of your tone and speed. Take a deep breath and carry on.

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5. Create Small “Yes’s” Along the Way

If you want to get that final yes at the end of your sales pitch, it helps to shoot for smaller yes’s along the way. This helps with psychologically establishing a connection with others. It allows them to see your point of view and why your idea is a good one.

In the 1960s, a team of psychologists wanted to explore what would become known as the foot-in-the-door technique. The canvased a neighborhood and asked each house if they could put a large “Drive Carefully” sign in the front yard. Only 20 percent of the residents agreed.

The researchers went back a few days later and asked if the residents would agree to put a much smaller sign in their window. More people agreed to this smaller request.

When the researchers returned a few weeks later, 76 percent of the residents agreed to put the larger sign in their yards.[3]

So what does this mean?

By getting a yes to a smaller request first, you are establishing a connection and asking the other person to make a smaller mental commitment. While trying to motivate somebody, ask them questions along the way that touch upon their need or problem and result in a “yes.” By doing this, they are that much more likely to give you a final “yes” at the end.

6. Close the Deal

Alright, you have listened to the customer, kept your cool and conveyed a message that speaks to their needs. Now, it is time to close the deal. A lot of salespeople try to create a sense of urgency with a now or never approach. This can come off as both pushy and desperate.

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Yes, the idea that you are discussing may indeed relate to a specific deadline, but being too pushy can backfire pretty easily.

It is rare for somebody to immediately say yes right away. Everyone has their own set responsibilities, and people often need a bit of time to think things over.

It is always a good idea to ask the other person if they have any questions about what was discussed or if they have any concerns about moving forward. This gives you a chance to clear things up.

Finally, ask if you can follow up at a specified point in the future. This avoids leaving things open-ended and allows you some time to tweak your message.

In Conclusion

Remember that good sales technique is not about trying to push somebody into something that is not right for them. It is about understanding their needs and conveying why you have an effective solution.

If you can master the sales techniques outlined above, you will succeed even if you never technically sell anything.

Need to Know More About Sales Techniques? Read These:

Featured photo credit: Cytonn Photography via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Scientific American: Now Hear This! Most People Stink at Listening [Excerpt]
[2] Psychology Today: Bill Clinton: A Study in Charisma
[3] Journal of Personality and Social Psychology: Compliance Without Pressure: The Foot-in-the-Door Technique

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Jeremy Diamond

Jeremy Diamond is a lawyer and entrepreneur. He is the Senior Partner of Diamond and Diamond Lawyers, a national law firm based in Canada

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)
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You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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