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Published on April 6, 2020

6 Powerful Sales Techniques Even Non-Salespeople Should Master

6 Powerful Sales Techniques Even Non-Salespeople Should Master

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

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 January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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