Proactive approaches may not be the first thing you think of when considering traits of top salespeople. Most likely, traits like good listener, personable, goal-oriented, and ambitious are what come to mind. But, being proactive is actually very beneficial to selling: “When you take a more proactive approach, you as the sales professional are able to guide the pace of the sales process to better support your company’s bottom line,” writes HubSpot’s Lestraundra Alfred. Also, she points out, proactive selling can help you nail down who you should be talking to that will help you move the deal along. Rather than simply responding to events, you are taking charge of the sales process and navigating its course.
Proactive approaches to try
Alfred goes into detail about different techniques that are proactive approaches, highlighting each tactic and how to implement it.
The first tip is to take the time needed to plan and research each time you start the sales process. Don’t start a sales conversation until you’ve devoted time to learning more about the other person and their business. Alfred doesn’t mean you need to bury yourself in research, but instead, find out what will make the sale easier for you to close. Not sure where to begin researching? Consider the top pre-call preparation done by salespeople, according to SalesFuel's Voice of the Sales Rep:
- Review the prospective company’s website
- Talk to a contact inside the company
- Get up-to-date on the prospect’s industry
- Review the company/prospect’s social media feeds
The next proactive approach that Albert discusses is initiating the conversation. Hesitancy can cost you an opportunity, so don’t sit back and wait. “If you encounter an individual who has expressed a challenge or problem they are facing and you know your product is a good solution, speak up and say so,” Albert urges. “Your next closed-won deal could be on the other side of a conversation you took the initiative to start.” And note, there’s a difference between reaching out to connect and spamming the prospect. Determine which method would be most effective for making contact and professionally and thoughtfully make that first contact.
Establishing immediate credibility and value is another proactive approach that you should take. Credibility requires you to prove value, and one way to do that is to provide valuable content that is informative, relevant and establishes you as an expert. “…by taking the necessary steps to build credibility early on in the sales process you are proactively shaping the prospect’s opinion of you,” she explains. “This will help you be better positioned for the sale.”
Another way to be proactive is to use open-ended questions during discussions to guide the conversations. Doing so not only gives the prospect the opportunity to open up about their own situation, but also allows you to participate in active listening. By actively listening, rather than focusing only on what you have to say, you can learn some very valuable insights about the prospect, their goals, their challenges, etc. By taking control with these questions, you’re giving the prospect the chance to open up to you and you are actively mining for information.
With these, and the other techniques that Albert discusses, you can be proactive in your sales approach. Don’t just sit back and wait for an inquiry to come in or the perfect prospect to fall into your lap. By actively taking the lead in sales situations, you are empowering yourself to move things forward rather than waiting for the prospect to do so.