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Sales techniques : The 16 essential methods

Sales techniques : The 16 essential methods



If you’re a salesperson or business developer looking to boost your performance, discovering the best sales techniques to seduce your prospects and retain your buyers is crucial. You’re right on target!

This comprehensive article reveals 16 crucial sales strategies to boost your sales and improve customer satisfaction.

Sales techniques encompass all the systems and tools applicable at every stage of the sales cycle, including prospecting, presentation, argumentation, negotiation and follow-up. They can easily be incorporated into a Linkedin lead generation strategy, as they aim to generate value, respond to buyers’ needs and motivations, overcome objections, and establish proximity. With a multitude of techniques available, some will be more suitable than others, depending on your sector, your offer, the length of your sales cycle, and the profile of your customers.

We have carefully selected 16 proven techniques that have benefited many sales professionals. They come directly from a study of over 250 MirrorProfiles customers. You’ll find out how they work, how to apply them effectively, and what benefits they bring.

Ready to unlock the secrets of a successful sale? Follow the guide!

Active listening to understand and respond to needs

This essential communication strategy involves putting yourself in the other person’s shoes, paraphrasing their words and asking meaningful questions. This approach demonstrates our understanding and interest, forging an environment of respect and empathy, essential for success in sales.

To excel, we must adhere to a few key principles:

  • Greet prospects with kindness, without prejudice or directives.
  • Capture context, feelings and motivations, looking beyond your words.
  • Clearly restate needs, issues and emotions to ensure understanding.
  • Encourage him to express himself further by asking open-ended questions.
  • Reinforce attention with appropriate body language (eye contact, smile, gestures).

Mastering this technique is crucial for any salesperson. It helps you get to know your prospects better, establish a solid bond of trust, identify sales opportunities, respond to objections and build customer loyalty. This skill lies at the heart of proven sales systems such as the Challenger Sale and consultative selling, which we’ll explore in more detail.

SPANCO: Structuring the sales process

The SPANCO method, developed by Xerox, is a six-step strategy for optimizing lead conversion. These stages are : Suspect, Prospect, Analysis, Negotiation, Conclusion, Order. This approach is widely adopted for its ability to effectively structure the sales journey.

Each phase of SPANCO is dedicated to specific actions designed to facilitate and improve the transition to customers :

  • Suspect: Identification of the ideal target and creation of a high-quality database.
  • Prospect: Contact the lead to schedule an appointment.
  • Analysis: Detailed needs assessment.
  • Negotiation: Presentation of the offer and highlighting of the positive points of the solution.
  • Conclusion: Finalize the sale by clarifying terms and conditions, such as time limits and conditions of sale.
  • Order: Post-sales follow-up through to delivery to guarantee customer satisfaction.

The SPANCO method is a valuable tool for controlling the sales cycle and improving conversion rates. It encourages a structured process, ensuring optimal support. What’s more, it facilitates the implementation of performance indicators at all times, enabling weak points in the sales process to be identified and corrected.

Compatible with other sales techniques, such as active listening, SPIN-Selling and consultative selling, SPANCO effectively enriches and completes the sales team’s arsenal of strategies.

SONCAS: Analyze purchasing motivations

The SONCAS method, devised by Jean-Denis Larradet in 1993, is the essential sales tool (and one of the best known) that focuses on six main motivations: Security, Pride, Novelty, Comfort, Money, and Sympathy. This approach is based on the idea that each consumer has a predominant psychological profile that guides his or her purchasing decisions. By identifying and addressing each customer’s specific SONCAS profile, salespeople can personalize their pitch and strike a chord with their customers. Speeches aren’t just for speaking, they can also be used in your Linkedin prospecting through the messages you send out.

Let’s explore these six profiles in more detail to better understand how to identify and interact with them.

a) Safety

Safety-conscious customers are above all risk-averse. They value reliability, positive experience and constant support. To win over a safety-conscious customer, it is crucial to :

  • Build confidence by presenting testimonials, certifications and case studies.
  • Clarify all sales conditions, including warranties and payment options.
  • Offer free trials or demonstrations to test the product.
  • Solid after-sales support for a greater sense of security.

b) Pride

Pride-driven individuals seek recognition and prestige through their purchases. To attract this type of customer, we recommend :

  • Value their choices and underline their discernment.
  • Position yourself as premium or exclusive.
  • Highlight the personal, professional and social benefits of the offer.
  • Suggest additional features to enrich their experience.

c) Novelty

Customers attracted by novelty are looking for surprises and innovations. To capture their attention, it is effective to :

  • Present the unique or innovative features of the offer.
  • Create a memorable and engaging experience.
  • Suggest exclusive promotions or events to keep them interested.
  • Offer advice and ideas to maximize the use of the product or service.

d) Comfort

Comfort-seeking buyers prioritize simplicity and well-being in their choices. To meet their expectations, it is important to :

  • Show how the product or service simplifies life and solves problems.
  • Make the purchasing process as easy as possible, with flexible payment and delivery options.
  • Illustrate the practical, time-saving benefits.
  • Evoke positive emotional assets, such as relaxation and satisfaction.

e) Silver

The Silver profile focuses on optimizing your budget and making savings through your purchases. Above all, it seeks profitability, rationality, performance and quality. This profile is particularly sensitive to value for money and return on investment.

This type of buyer is generally rational and calculating. To convince a Silver profile, it is essential to :

  • Clearly explain the cost of your proposal, detailing production, distribution and research costs.
  • Emphasize the added value of what you offer, highlighting technical features, functionality and durability.
  • Demonstrate return on investment, illustrating potential savings, benefits and revenues.
  • Propose attractive offers, such as discounts, rebates and guarantees, to prove that you’re getting a good deal.

f) Sympathy

The Sympathy profile seeks to forge links and share values through its purchases. It values relationships, communication, conviviality and solidarity, while being sensitive to the human and ethical aspects.

This category of buyer is often sociable and generous. To achieve a Sympathy profile, we recommend :

  • Establish closeness, by being affable and respectful.
  • Share the story behind your proposal, presenting your company’s vision, mission, values and commitments.
  • Make your customer feel part of a community, by talking about other customers, reviews, testimonials and recommendations.
  • Give meaning to your investment, by demonstrating the positive impact of your product or service on society, the environment and humanitarian causes.

CAB (Characteristics, Advantages, Benefits) : Building a solid business case

This method is an effective sales strategy, aimed at developing a robust sales pitch. It focuses on presenting the features and strengths of your proposal. Its main aim is to persuade by striking a chord and demonstrating the added value of what you’re offering.

Here are the three pillars:

  • Features: This involves detailing the functionalities, technical specifications and components of your proposal. The key is to be precise and factual, while avoiding overly complex or superfluous details.

  • Benefits: This part consists of directly linking features to their strengths, explaining how they improve the performance, efficiency or reliability of your proposal. The aim is to be clear and to the point, without being too general.

  • Benefits: This involves highlighting the personal benefits the person will derive from your proposal, showing how it will solve their problems, meet their needs, or improve their situation. The approach must be concrete and personalized, avoiding exaggeration.

This method is a particularly powerful sales tool for effectively structuring your sales pitch, increasing its impact on the prospect. It helps you stand out from your competitors, arouse desire and encourage purchase. What’s more, it complements other sales techniques, such as SPIN-Selling and consultative selling, which we’ll explore later.

SIMAC: Mastering the art of presentation

This method, created by American consultant Robert Miller, is a sales strategy designed to perfect the art of presentation. It is based on a five-part process: Situation, Idea, Mechanism, Benefits, Conclusion. Its main objective is to capture interest by emphasizing the idea before presenting the product or service.

Here’s a detailed overview of the five pde :

  • Situation: This part consists of assessing the person’s current context, identifying problems, needs and issues. Active listening is essential here, as is the art of asking open-ended questions and rephrasing answers to demonstrate a deep understanding of needs.

  • Idea: The aim here is to captivate with an innovative idea that can change his perspective and open new doors. It’s crucial to be direct, concise and impactful, using figures, facts and relevant examples.

  • Mechanism: This involves presenting the product or service as the solution to the proposed idea, detailing how it works, its features and its strengths. A precise, educational presentation is essential, often supported by visual aids, testimonials and demonstrations.

  • Advantages: Now is the time to highlight the advantages of the product or service, showing how it meets your problems and needs. The approach must be personalized, tangible and emotional, using arguments specifically adapted to the prospect’s profile.

  • Conclusion: This last part aims to close the sale by motivating people to act, thanks to an attractive proposal, a discount, a guarantee, etc. Use effective closing techniques, such as alternative choice or summary, to encourage the decision to buy.

It’s a powerful tool for engaging and persuading prospects by offering them a tailor-made solution. It helps to effectively organize the presentation, generate added value and facilitate the purchasing decision. What’s more, it combines well with other sales techniques, such as active listening and consultative selling. In fact, it’s one of the most popular methods used on our Linkedin MirrorProfiles accounts, as automation enables this funnel-like shape to be very effective for selling to cold prospects.

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SPIN Selling: Asking the right questions

This sales tactic focuses on engagement by asking relevant questions. This technique, developed by Neil Rackham, is based on the acronym SPIN, which stands for Situation, Problem, Involvement and Need-payoff. It’s based on the idea that convincing people of the value of the solution is paramount, before presenting the product or service.

This approach breaks down into four categories of questions:

  • Situational questions: These aim to understand the prospect’s context, including objectives, processes and constraints. The aim is to be precise and succinct, avoiding superfluous questions.

  • Problem questions: These questions aim to identify and highlight the challenges and obstacles faced by the prospect, which your offer could solve. Adopt a curious and empathetic stance, without becoming pessimistic.

  • Involvement Questions: These help you to realize the extent and repercussions of your problems, creating a sense of urgency to find a solution. Remain logical and objective, without exaggerating or manipulating.

  • Need-payoff questions: The aim is to get prospects to understand for themselves the benefits of solving their problems with your solution, rather than imposing this vision on them. The approach should be positive and emotional, without appearing arrogant.

It’s an effective technique for establishing rapport with prospects, identifying their needs and motivations, and convincing them to commit. It helps to structure the discussion, create value and encourage the end of the sale.

Challenger Sale: Challenge the prospect

The Challenger Sale method, designed by American consultants Brent Adamson and Matthew Dixon, revolutionizes sales by encouraging prospects to question their current beliefs and practices, using new data and perspectives. This approach, which favors conviction through ideas above all else, is based on clear foundations. Very useful for our MirrorProfiles customers who are attacking a new market and need rapid feedback in order to deploy large-scale prospecting.

The three pillars of the Challenger Sale are :

  • Teaching: This involves providing relevant, original and useful information (an insight) that reveals a previously ignored or underestimated problem or opportunity.

  • Tailoring: This involves personalizing the message according to the prospect’s profile and context, taking into account their needs, motivations, objectives and constraints.

  • Control: This involves taking the reins of the conversation and encouraging action, using assertive communication techniques such as reformulation, alternative choice, or getting your foot in the door.

The Challenger Sale method stands out as an extremely effective sales strategy for setting yourself apart from the competition, generating value and building customer loyalty. It transforms the salesperson into an advisor, expert and partner of choice.

AIDA (Attention, Interest, Desire, Action): Arousing interest and prompting action

The AIDA method, devised by American advertising executive Elias St. Clair, is a method for identifying, identifying, identifying, identifying. Elmo Lewis at the end of the 19th century, remains a pillar of sales and marketing strategies. This technique follows a four-part path: capturing the prospect’s attention, arousing his interest, stimulating his desire, and finally, moving him to action.

Used in digital marketing as well as in communication campaigns and sales strategies, the AIDA method is based on a psychological progression towards purchase, articulated in several phases:

  • Attention: The aim is to captivate with a message that arouses curiosity. This is achieved by using creative and distinctive elements such as impactful headlines, eye-catching visuals, color schemes and sound elements.

  • Interest: This part aims to engage by proposing content that is both relevant and captivating, and that meets your customers’ needs and expectations. Personalizing the message with concrete data, examples and testimonials enriches this interaction.

  • Desire: To stimulate desire, it’s crucial to highlight your proposition’s unique value proposition, its interests or a special promotion, so that the prospect grasps the appeal of taking action.

  • Action: Finally, encourage action with a clear call to action. Whether it’s a buy button, a form to fill in or a direct link, the aim is to facilitate and speed up the decision to buy.

The AIDA method is an extremely effective sales tool for capturing attention and converting customers. It structures the sales message, creates added value and stimulates the act of buying.

Upselling and cross-selling: Maximizing the value of every sale

Upselling and cross-selling are two crucial strategies for increasing the value of each transaction. By offering buyers additional, complementary or superior-quality propositions, these techniques aim not only to boost sales and profitability, but also to strengthen customer loyalty.

The main difference between upselling and cross-selling lies in their approach. Upselling encourages the customer to opt for an improved or more luxurious version of the proposal initially chosen. For example, suggesting a more advanced model or extended warranty to a laptop buyer is upselling. Cross-selling, on the other hand, offers items that are complementary to the initial purchase, such as a mouse, a USB key or a protective sleeve for the purchaser of a laptop.

Used judiciously, upselling and cross-selling are extremely effective in raising the average value of purchases, while improving customer satisfaction and loyalty. Typically, within MirrorProfiles, this is what we have with our MirrorChat tool, which becomes almost mandatory when our customers have more than 5 Linkedin accounts to manage per sales rep. These techniques enable us to better meet buyers’ needs and expectations, enrich their shopping experience, build loyalty and convert them into true brand ambassadors.

They integrate seamlessly with other sales methods, which we’ll explore in the following sections.

BANT method for lead qualification

The BANT method, developed by IBM in the 1950s, is a proven strategy for qualifying leads. It evaluates a prospect’s ability to become a customer based on four key criteria: Budget, Authority, Need and Timing.

This method involves asking specific questions to determine :

  • Budget: How much money can the prospect allocate to your proposal? Is this budget sufficient, adjustable or fixed? Who’s responsible?

  • Authority: Who has the power of decision to purchase your proposal? Is it the prospect, his superior, or a decision-making committee? How much power do they have?

  • Need: What problem is the prospect trying to solve with your proposal? Is this need explicitly formulated, implied or not yet identified? What is its urgency and priority?

  • Timing: When does the prospect plan to make this investment? Is this an urgent, medium-term or longer-term issue? What factors can influence this timetable?

By efficiently filtering prospects, the BANT method optimizes the sales process. It helps focus efforts on the most promising leads, reduces sales time, increases conversion rates and promotes loyalty.

Consultative selling: Be an advisor rather than a salesperson

Consultative selling transforms the traditional sales dynamic by positioning oneself as an advisor rather than simply a salesperson. This approach, based on bringing expertise, added value and personalized solutions to the prospect, has its origins in Mack Hanan’s book “Consultative Selling”, published in 1970. It’s based on the idea that the prospect must be seduced by the concept before anything else.

This method consists of four essential parts:

  • Discovery: This crucial part aims to capture the prospect’s context, needs, challenges, objectives, motivations and obstacles in detail. She uses active listening, questioning and rephrasing techniques to achieve a deep understanding.

  • Analysis: This involves providing an assessment of your current context, enriched with data and perspectives that raise your awareness of your issues and opportunities.

  • The recommendation: This part involves proposing a tailor-made solution, demonstrating how it will meet your needs, solve your problems and enable you to achieve your objectives, backed up by solid arguments and evidence.

  • Conclusion: This involves finalizing the sale by motivating the customer to act, through a suitable proposal, a guarantee of satisfaction or a sense of urgency, using effective techniques.

Consultative selling is particularly effective in building a partnership with the prospect, offering value and encouraging loyalty. It stands out from the competition, generates satisfaction and referrals, and can complement other sales techniques such as active listening, S-Selling or Challenger Sale.

Inbound Sales: Drawing customers to you

Inbound sales is an innovative sales strategy that focuses on attracting buyers by delivering quality content, relevant data and solutions tailored to their needs. Inspired by inbound marketing, this method seeks to generate traffic and leads through SEO, social networking, blogging and other strategies.

It is divided into four main parts:

  • Identify: This part involves identifying prospects who have shown an interest in your company by visiting your site, downloading a guide, subscribing to your newsletter, etc.

  • Connect: The next step is to get in touch with these people to initiate a dialogue, whether by phone, email or chat, in order to understand their context and offer your help.

  • Explore: This phase allows us to deepen the relationship by organizing a second conversation to identify their needs, challenges and objectives more precisely.

  • Consultant: Finally, present a customized solution, explaining in detail how it can meet their needs, solve their problems and help them achieve their goals.

Inbound sales is a particularly effective sales approach for attracting and retaining buyers in search of solutions to their problems. It positions you as an expert, advisor and partner of choice, rather than a traditional salesperson.

Sales Enablement: Effective support for the sales team

Sales enablement is a crucial strategy for boosting sales team effectiveness. This method focuses on providing essential resources such as quality content, innovative tools, customized training and personalized coaching. The aim is to boost salespeople’s productivity, impact and satisfaction by equipping them to better respond to buyers’ expectations and behaviors.

This technique is based on four fundamental pillars:

  • Content: Creating and sharing attractive, relevant content is essential. This includes white papers, case studies, webinars, videos, etc., all of which need to be relevant to the customer’s buying journey and profile.

  • Tools: Provide efficient, easy-to-use tools, such as CRM software, marketing automation software, or communication and presentation applications. These tools are designed to help optimize interactions, from the initial contact to the end of the sale.

  • Training: Offer targeted training to develop salespeople’s skills and knowledge of sales techniques, products, markets and the competition. Training must be regular and tailored to the specific needs of each salesperson.

  • Coaching: Accompany salespeople in their professional development with constructive feedback, advice and support. Coaching must be personalized and focused on achieving sales targets and improving performance.

Sales enablement is proving to be an extremely effective sales approach for encouraging and empowering the sales team, providing them with the tools they need to excel. This method helps to improve sales results, satisfaction and loyalty for both sellers and buyers.

Social Selling: Using social networks

Social selling is an innovative sales approach that uses social networks to build valuable relationships. This strategy encompasses the entire digital ecosystem, including the Internet and specialized sales tools such as LinkedIn Sales Navigator. These help sales staff to identify, contact and follow up key contacts effectively, delivering the right message at the right time.

Social selling consists of four essential parts:

  • Identify: This part involves identifying prospects on social platforms. To do this, we use precise search criteria, hashtags, groups, etc. The aim is to be selective and precise, to optimize targeting without being too vague or too restrictive.

  • Connect: The next step is to create a link with the people you’ve identified, by sending them an invitation, a message or a comment. This contact must be relevant and personalized, so that you can introduce yourself and offer your help without appearing intrusive or impersonal.

  • Engage: The next step is to start a conversation with connected people, offering them content, data, tips, opportunities and more. The aim is to bring them real added value and strengthen their loyalty, without falling into an overly promotional or boring discourse.
  • Convert: Finally, it’s all about turning committed prospects and customers into buyers, by presenting them with a proposal, demonstration, appointment, etc. that arouses their interest and prompts them to take action. This approach must be convincing and persuasive, without being oppressive or insistent.

Social selling is proving to be a particularly effective sales method for attracting and retaining attention. This technique allows you to position yourself as an expert and advisor rather than just a salesperson.

The 4P method: Product, Price, Place, Promotion

The 4 Ps method, created by Professor Jerome McCarthy in the late 1950s, is a pillar of the marketing mix. It helps determine a company’s market strategy by focusing on four key areas: product, cost, distribution (place) and promotion.

This method aims to clarify :

  • Product: What’s for sale? Features and benefits. How does it stand out from the competition? What improvements or innovations are possible?

  • Price: How much does it cost the customer? What value does the customer place on it? What is the profit margin? How to adjust costs according to demand, competition and product life cycle?

  • Place: Where and how is the product or service distributed? Which distribution channels are favored (physical stores, e-commerce, direct sales)? Who are the intermediaries (wholesalers, retailers)? How to optimize logistics and distribution?

  • Promotion: How is he promoted? What communication tools are used (advertising, PR, direct marketing)? What message do we want to convey? How do you attract, retain and satisfy customers?

In short, the 4 Ps method provides a framework for developing a solid, effective strategy to stand out in the market, enhance the value of your offering, boost sales and outperform the competition.

Neuro-sales : Applying the principles of psychology

Neuro-sales is an innovative method that uses psychology and neuroscience to better understand and influence customers’ purchasing decisions. Neuromarketing is a complex and costly lever to implement, but it promises to deliver excellent results. It is based on the premise that purchasing decisions are primarily guided by the unconscious and emotions. These decisions can be guided by specific stimuli and strategies.

This approach makes it possible to address key issues such as :

  • What techniques capture the attention and interest of customers?
  • How do you establish a bond of empathy with them?
  • How can we identify their needs, motivations and obstacles?
  • How can we present offers that are truly adapted to them?
  • How do you encourage purchases and build customer loyalty?

Neuro-sales is based on key concepts and tools from psychology and neuroscience:

  • The triune brain: This theory explains that the human brain is divided into three parts – the reptilian brain, the limbic brain and the neocortex, associated with instincts, emotions and reason. Neuro-sales seeks to address all three aspects, taking into account their specific characteristics and needs.

  • Cognitive biases: These are errors in judgment that our brain makes when processing information. Neuro-selling takes advantage of these biases, such as confirmation bias, authority bias or scarcity bias, to influence customers’ decisions.

  • Neurotransmitters: These chemical substances facilitate communication between neurons. Neuro-selling aims to stimulate the release of neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin, associated with pleasure and satisfaction.

  • Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP): This method aims to improve communication and change through the use of verbal and non-verbal language. Neuro-sales uses NLP to adjust its message to the customer’s profile and context, using techniques such as mirroring, reframing and meta-modeling.

Neuro-sales is proving to be an extremely effective sales technique, enabling us to understand and influence customers by taking into account their brain functioning and emotional reactions. It positions the salesperson as an expert, advisor and partner of choice.

This article has introduced you to 16 crucial sales techniques to boost your results and increase your sales. They equip you to better understand and respond to the needs and motivations of your customers and prospects, add value, overcome objections, and establish a relationship of trust. These techniques are interoperable and adaptable to your sector, your proposition, the sales cycle and the profile of your ideal customer. Of course, the idea is not to apply them all, but to take the method that most closely resembles your sales force and best adapts it to your type of business. Within a company, you may find several different techniques, because it’s important to remember that it’s up to your SDR to choose the one that suits his or her mindset and natural way of selling.

Picture of Tristan Bance
Tristan Bance

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