Follow Up, Talk Less, Close Early: Sales Techniques That Will Make You Unstoppable
First off, let’s get one thing straight—real sales techniques are not hat tricks. They’re not just the latest trendy hack that some supposed “guru” is talking about this week on LinkedIn.
Sales techniques are specific tactics used to close deals. These are the actions that you’re taking directly within the sales process, the combination of moves on a chessboard that get you (and your potential customers) closer to winning.
Some techniques change over time as new tech crops up and buyer behaviors change. Others can be held as guiding principles, always helping you move prospects further down the sales pipeline.
We’ve dug into the techniques and strategies that sales professionals are using every day to get shit done. These are a mix of tactics our own sales team here at Close use, as well as thoughts from dozens of sales experts and top voices in the industry.
Ready to make your pipeline pop?
1. Talk Less, Listen More
Talking less might sound like a counter-intuitive sales tip, but this really works.
Hilary Johnson, the Founder & CEO of Hatch Tribe, told us, “Typically, the less I talk during a sales call, the better. The goal is to ask a few good questions and then let the client tell me all about their challenges.”
Listen to your prospects, and you’ll be able to deliver a concise sales message that takes their specific pain points into account.
Noel Griffith, the CMO of SupplyGem, adds this: “The best salespeople I've worked with are the ones who listen to what their client needs, then figure out how they can provide that service in the most effective way. This may sound simple, but it's not always easy to do. It requires patience and empathy—two things that aren't always taught in sales training.”
Here’s how to use this sales technique in the real world:
- Ask really good questions, the kind that encourage your prospect to open up and tell you all about their troubles.
- Practice active listening to help you learn about your target audience. This is more than paying attention—it’s the ability to hear and repeat back what was said. Then, you show you really get them.
- Adjust your sales pitch based on what you’ve learned. When you let your prospects spell the narrative, not only does your sales pitch become truly relevant—it becomes easier!
2. Go for the Close Early and Often
The buying process can take a lot longer than you want it to, especially in B2B sales. But going in for the close early helps you get a much clearer picture of how far away the finish line is.
Of course, when you ask for the close early (and I mean uncomfortably early), they’ll probably say no.
Don’t panic. We expected this.
Then, simply ask this question: “What steps do we need to take for you to become a customer?"
Steli Efti, CEO of Close, likes to call this the “virtual close.” By letting your prospect talk you through the steps they need to take in the purchase process, you’re receiving a blueprint to close this deal.
You can also use what’s called the assumptive close—instead of asking if they’re ready to buy, assume they are ready and ask questions like:
- When would you like to start your subscription?
- Should I arrange for delivery on Monday afternoon?
- Would you like to go forward with the X tier or the Y tier?
Here’s what you need to do to use this closing technique:
- Take a moment to assess their needs, don’t just whip out this sales strategy during the initial cold call. Take a moment to get to know the person, and use the assumptive close to make the sale when the time is right.
- Ask the right questions to understand how close they are to a purchase decision.
3. Use Mirroring and Matching to Build Rapport
Mirroring and matching is a sales skill where salespeople copy their prospects’ verbal and physical behaviors to build trust. (Don’t worry; it's not as creepy as it might sound!)
Ben Nebesky, the Customer Success Manager at MessageDesk, says this: “Pay attention to customer cues. During demos and sales presentations, for instance, watch their body language and facial expressions, and be mindful of their involvement in the conversation.”
The goal is to do this without making it weird. We’re not talking about repeating every phrase back to them or copying their exact movements.
Here are some real-world examples of how this might work:
- If you talk to a prospect who uses their hands to clarify points, you might use your hands a bit more.
- If a prospect talks super fast, make sure you’re not talking incredibly slow.
- If your prospect is very formal on the call, try not to be too casual.
- If a prospect slouches in their chair while conversing with you, do your best to match their posture.
This will signal to potential customers that you understand and respect them, which will help shorten your sales cycles. The best part is, this technique doesn’t take a huge amount of time to master or implement. Simply study your prospects, then emulate them. Easy peasy.
4. Be Transparent to Establish Trust
Trust trumps transactions. If you can establish trust between yourself and your potential customers, their decision-making process will be much easier.
One of the easiest ways to do this? Be transparent.
Gauri Manglik, the CEO and Co-Founder of Instrumentl, says this: “The more transparent you are, the better. People want to know that they can trust you before they make a purchase, so being honest helps build that trust.”
Here are some specific ways to practice transparency and build trust:
- Make sure you can always deliver what you promise. Don’t promise prospects the moon when you can only deliver a flashlight.
- Be honest about your shortcomings, because, let’s face it: your solution can’t be the perfect fit for every situation. If you don’t think your product will solve their problem, be honest about it!
5. Leverage the Power of Storytelling
The human brain was built to process and retain stories. It’s why we like movies, books, and music that tell a story.
Adding storytelling principles to your standard sales approach will help you connect with more prospects, build deeper relationships, and close more deals. Use your story to address pain points and give your prospects a solution they can visualize.
Here are three easy ways to start storytelling in your sales process:
- Make sure your story has a beginning, middle, and end. Use the beginning of your story to introduce your main character and their challenges. Use the middle to show the main character's struggle to overcome said challenges. And use the end to show your main character achieving victory with your offerings.
- Highlight your prospects as the star of the story. You need to craft a narrative that illustrates the unique problems your potential customer faces, and how your specific products and/or services can help them overcome their challenges.
- Make it personal. Your story will only produce sales if it’s personalized to the person you tell it to. Use everything you’ve learned about your prospects to tell a story that will hold their attention and convince them to take action.
6. Conduct Thorough Market Research
I know; “get to know your audience” is a lame sales technique, but this bears mentioning. Don’t just do surface research. Instead, take the time to study your market deeply. What does your target audience like? What do they struggle with on a daily basis? Most importantly, how can your company’s products and/or services help them?
This knowledge will help you create more effective buyer personas, which you can use to generate better leads and book more sales calls with individual prospects.
Here are the questions you can ask yourself as you get to know these individuals in your sales pipeline:
- What industry are they in? Are they in a niche sub-industry?
- Which of your products will they want?
- Have they tried other products that didn’t work out?
- What kind of budget do they have to work with?
- Do they complain about pain points on social media sites or review sites? What does that info tell you about who they are or what they need?
- Are they a lower-level employee or a bonafide decision-maker?
Spend a good amount of time answering these questions. The effort you put in will help you personalize your sales pitch. It will also help you explain how your offerings are better than your competitors.
7. Ask Open-Ended Questions
An open-ended question is any query that can’t be answered with a simple yes or no. For example, “Can you tell me why you don’t like your current CRM?” is an open-ended question, whereas, “Do you like your current CRM?” isn’t.
According to Matt Little, the Owner and Director of Festoon House: “You can better understand your customer's needs, difficulties, and wants by asking open-ended questions that prompt detailed answers. This information lets you offer solutions that resonate with them one-on-one, boosting the likelihood of a deal.”
Use this effective sales technique by asking questions like these:
- “Why do you think that is?”
- “What have you already tried?”
- “What is missing in your current stack/solution?”
- “Tell me more about….”
To learn more about open-ended questions, check out this blog post where we share 40 questions that will help you get to know your prospects—and make more sales.
8. Create a Sense of Urgency
The best sellers convince leads to buy now, not later.
Why? Because later may never come. Your prospect might get distracted and forget to call you back. Or have their budget slashed. Or a million other less-than-ideal things.
One of the best ways to shorten sales cycles, close deals, and turn prospects into new customers right freaking now is to create a sense of urgency throughout the sales process.
Here’s how to use this sales technique while still maintaining strong customer relationships:
- Agitate your prospect’s problem, while simultaneously promoting the benefits of your product or service. Remind them why this solution is so important to them, and why they urgently need to solve their problems.
- Offer limited-time discounts or access to exclusive benefits if they make a purchase decision ASAP. For example, you might offer an implementation or onboarding package for free if they sign up today.
- Make sure you take an ethical approach to this sales technique, and never use fake urgency to push a prospect into buying. As Matt Little, our friend from Festoon House, says, “Make sure the urgency you create is aligned with your customer's needs.” In other words, don’t spin urgency out of thin air. Have a legit purpose for it.
9. Follow Up and Stay in Touch
What happens after a customer buys from you? Hopefully, you work hard to provide them with quality customer service, so they love every second they spend supporting your company.
The easiest way to do this is to reach out to existing customers from time to time (and not just to see if they want to buy something else). If you stay in touch with customers—even when there's no immediate sale on the horizon—you’ll earn their trust.
Here are some ways to keep following up after the sale:
- Offer proactive service. Ryan McKenzie from Tru Earth shared this: “By regularly reaching out to clients, anticipating their needs, and providing them with exclusive offers or insights, I foster loyalty, which often leads to future sales conversations.”
- Ask if they have any referrals. When your customers are happy, they’ll be more likely to refer their friends. But giving them that extra nudge is a great way to get more referrals.
- Offer relevant cross-sells or upsells. Of course, only do this when it makes sense for their business and needs.
This is an effective sales technique mainly because it’s so simple—and it gets you a helluva lot of ROI for your efforts. You can even automate your follow-up messages with a CRM like Close.
Better Sales Techniques = More Sales
If your current sales are stagnating or you’re finding deals are taking longer to close, it might be time to try out some new techniques.
Word to the wise: Don’t try to implement all these techniques at once. You’ll end up frustrated. Instead, pick one or two that feel good and give them a try. Maybe spend a bit more time researching leads or make a concerted effort to talk a little less and use active listening.
Whichever sales technique you choose to implement, make sure to use the right tools to supercharge your sales process even more.
Want to automate your follow-ups, keep track of all your relevant market research, and listen better to your conversations (even after the sales meeting is over)? Try Close—with automated sales workflows, AI-generated sales call summaries, and all the contact management tools you need to close deals faster.