Editor's note: This is one of our more popular articles, so we've updated it to keep things fresh and relevant.

At the start of your sales career, it’s easy to let ambition take the wheel. Discipline and skill are important, but you focus on doing whatever it takes to convert leads. You’re so eager to close the sale that you can exhaust yourself chasing a promising lead. Introductory training programs and shadowing sessions will give you insights into how experienced reps sell. Along with that education, however, you need to learn more strategy and sales tactics in order to consistently bring in new accounts.

For those who have already established their sales careers, they see how fast the market is changing. The needs and expectations from buyers change rapidly based on a number of factors, including their company’s health and the strength of the economy. Operating with the buyer in mind takes salespeople back to the basics of building relationships and creating win-win situations.

Below, we list nine of the best sales tactics to help you manage fruitful customer relationships and sell more effectively. For more advice for sales leaders on growing revenue, check out our guide: 5 Sales Strategies to Fuel Recovery and Revenue Growth.

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1. Follow through on your commitments

Stay true to your word. Whenever you outline next steps in the conversation, as well as discuss the deliverables you promise to provide, make sure to live up to that expectation.

In cases when you see that a deliverable may be delayed, proactively notify the customer with an email, a call, or a text message. That way they know you’re working on it and respect their time enough to let them know.

When you stay consistent in following through on your commitments and keeping lines of communication open, clients tend to trust you more because you’re a reliable partner. 


2. Take advantage of customer referrals

The most opportune time to request a customer referral is after your client has generated a meaningful return on investment from their relationship with your company. 

To determine this, periodically ping them to see how they’re enjoying the experience so far. Uncover the reasons why they love your product and identify any opportunities for improvement.

Once you gauge their overall satisfaction with the product or service, ask if they know of other businesses that would also benefit from your solutions. If needed, offer a referral bonus as an added incentive. When you’re patient about asking for referrals, you demonstrate to customers that you’re first invested in their success. Then you can seek out ways in which they can help you hit more of your sales goals.


3. Actively listen to what customers do and don’t say

Most salespeople listen to exactly what their customers say in order to identify expressed needs. This isn’t a sales tactic, but just a part of what’s required to do the job well.

Highly skilled reps, on the other hand, actively listen, but also work hard to read between the lines to uncover any latent needs. A good sales tactic is to ask questions throughout the conversation. Salespeople should relay their understanding of the situation in order to see if they’ve fully grasped the client’s challenges, or if they need further clarifying details. 

This enables you to suss out more information so that you can find different ways your product or service can help fill gaps in their operations. When you have a complete picture of your customer’s expressed and latent needs, you can tailor your sales pitch.

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4. Talk about your competition

When leads prompt conversations about the competition, acknowledge what they have to say. Don’t dig for any openings to criticize other companies in your industry, but use the conversation to speak to your company’s differentiators. 

Explain how your business does things differently and why your solution is a better match for the lead’s needs. You’ll end up with a more receptive audience when you’re ready to talk about your industry and how your company stands out. When they hear that you know what other brands in your industry are doing, and that your company is ahead of trends, leads will trust what you have to say. 


5. Use your CRM platform to stay updated and accurate

Today’s buyer is empowered. According to Salesforce Research’s State of the Connected Customer, "84% of customers say the experiences provided by a company are as important to them as its products and services. That experience includes their interactions with sales. They expect you're not only familiar with their business, but also their history with your brand, support tickets, and beyond."

Leads and customers expect you to be familiar not only with their business, but also with their history with your brand, including social media interactions, live chat conversations, and earlier-resolved support tickets. To cater to them, you need to use your company’s CRM system to its fullest capabilities. Keep all client data, notes, records from your interactions, and observations in one central location — your CRM platform — so you can treat it as your single source of truth, and others in your company can do the same. In addition to keeping your data complete, use the features built into your sales platform, including a sales dashboard and insights from reports and sales forecasts.

Because your CRM platform is essential to your work, you likely need access to it on the go, too. Use a mobile CRM app so you can pull buyer data instantly, whether you’re in transit, working remotely, working from home, or sitting in their waiting room right before you’re called in to present your sales pitch. 

The faster you get up to speed with who they are and the intelligence you and your team already gathered on them, the easier it will be to influence the relationship.


6. Rely on quantitative data

Between active users, marquee accounts, revenue generated (or dollars saved) for existing clients, and customer satisfaction scores, there’s a lot you can say that’ll inspire confidence among potential buyers. Use data points that demonstrate the value your customers receive. Share case studies and actual metrics, instead of adjectives, to help drive your point home.

For example, “Client A increased their website conversion rate thanks to our recommendations,” doesn’t paint the picture as well as “Client A saw a 30% increase in conversions on their landing page when we used X tactic.” Of course, only case studies immediately relevant to a lead are necessary. You don’t want to foster an overall sense of benefits — you want to explore the benefits they specifically need.

Take pride in and evangelize your company’s accomplishments, too, when a lead takes interest. Average years of experience at your company, awards that highlight critical capabilities, niche certifications, demonstrable subject matter expertise, and other commendations can sometimes impact a lead’s desire to work with your company.

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7. Revisit cold leads when appropriate

While some leads will be a firm “no,” learn to tell the difference between leads who truly don’t need your product or service and leads who may need it if the sales environment changes.

To be successful as a salesperson, keep track of leads who may need your services down the road. This may be because you add new products or features, or because your company expanded its service offerings. These leads may also be newly receptive to your pitch if their company’s situation changes. Tag these contacts in your CRM platform so you can revisit them when the time is right.

Only ping these leads when you have company news that specifically speaks to their initial reasons for going cool. At each touchpoint, provide value-add resources to keep them engaged. You may find that this communication puts you at the top of their potential vendor list once their budget or needs change. Not only did you pay attention to their current needs, you kept them in mind for their future needs, and these leads may find this personalized effort worthy of a second look.


8. Loop in experts from other departments

One of the best sales tactics is to collaborate with other departments to close the sale. For example, you can bring in your technical experts to audit or evaluate your prospect’s website if one of their concerns is that they need more online sales. Provide expertise to help them beyond their primary needs.

When multiple departments collaborate to show your lead how your company can help them succeed, your company feels more like a partner than a vendor. This is a good sales tactic in showing your customer how important they are to your company, and that multiple departments are invested in a long-term partnership. 


9. Earnestly ask for feedback

When you ask for feedback, you invite the buyer to take the lead in the conversation. Some buyers appreciate an open forum where they can speak their mind freely about what they like and don’t like about the sales process. Their feedback can help you refine the way you engage leads, since it helps you get to know your potential customers better. It can also help build trust, since you’re making yourself available for comments and potential criticism. 

In an article for The Balance Small Business, Alyssa Gregory lists questions companies can ask their clients for actionable feedback. These questions can be modified for leads as follows:

  • What made you consider us?

  • How would you describe our sales process?

  • In what areas did we meet or exceed your expectations?

  • In which areas can we improve?

  • Would you recommend us to others?

These questions can be asked during conversations over the phone or in person, both of which may be most effective for getting a true feel for their experience. However, you can also reach out to get opinions via email, through quick on-site surveys, with social media polls, and by speaking with focus groups.

No matter how you get this feedback, put what you learn to good use. After all, to be customer-centric, your company must focus on how your leads and customers feel.


Put it to work

These are some of the best sales tactics to add to your arsenal, whether you’re just getting started with your sales career or are a seasoned professional who wants to return to the basics. Practice each and you’ll become a more trusted advisor among prospects. 

After you put these into motion and they become second nature, you can then start experimenting with other sales tactics that may improve your overall results. You want to use each of these tips to build a strong foundation for your sales strategy. That way, you can stay client-focused and disciplined, making it easier to outperform your peers and exceed your quota. 

Want to sell even better from home? Our team has also created an in-depth Complete Guide to Sales Forecasting that goes beyond these tips, answering the most common questions we hear about sales forecasting from sales reps and leaders – including how to forecast in uncertain times.