The term “sales approach” has evolved with the changing needs of society. As a result, the way that a salesperson goes about the entire process needs to be revisited. The following 3 tactics will impart some fresh insight on the practiced art of selling, and allow you to create and tailor a more effective, results-oriented sales approach.

Research, and Enlighten Yourself!

In any field, subject, or profession, the more knowledgeable and educated you are, the better equipped you are for success. Sales is no exception to this rule. In the past, the process of selling involved the sales person contacting the prospect via telephone — the tired, well-worn cold call. Business-to-Business (B2B) sales are simply not that cookie-cutter any longer. As a matter of fact, in most scenarios the act of picking up the phone and cold-calling has been supplanted by research and education. Consider the needs of the potential customer before you reach out to them, and educate yourself about their company and their needs. You’ll be doing yourself a favor and greatly increasing the chances of a sale.

Listen More, Talk Less

Contrary to traditional “sales” dogma, it’s far more pragmatic to ask questions of the potential buyer and listen to the answer — in the process increasing your knowledge base about the buyer, while at the same time developing rapport. Asking your B2B lead prospects open-ended questions is a powerful method to achieve the dual goals of avoiding the yes or no answer, while encouraging the prospect to divulge valuable information to you about their needs.

A solid rule of thumb is to talk 30% of the time or less. Strategically guide the conversation where you want/need it to go. This takes some retraining given the firmly ensconced sales habits that involve a great deal of idle chatter, but the results will speak volumes.

Lighten Up with the “Always Be Closing” Mindset

Speaking of entrenched sales “strategies” and ingrained habits, the “always be closing” mindset is counter-productive and outdated. Put yourself in your prospect’s shoes momentarily: no one likes being on the receiving end of a high-pressured, overbearing sales pitch. Instead, how about going with “always be qualifying?” Making an educated call on the prospect’s chances of buying is as simple as qualifying them — which is accomplished through asking productive questions and listening to the answer (refer back to point #2 above).

B2B selling requires you, as the salesperson, to become educated about what you are selling, but also your customer and their needs. Remember that a skilled sales pitch involves more intelligent questions and listening than talking and pitching. Focus on qualifying, as opposed to closing, and your results will reflect the difference.