Cultivating an efficient and experienced sales team is crucial for every business. However, just because your staff has an impressive track record doesn't mean they're up-to-date on the latest strategies or truly understand how best to sell your product or service.

While your team might be well-versed in a variety of sales tactics, you should still actively communicate best practices that will enable them to reach their target numbers and expand their abilities and talents as salespeople.

To help you properly train your team, we asked a group of entrepreneurs for some of the most unique and effective sales tactics they like to implement with their own teams. Follow their strategies to give your reps a leg up on their next sales call.

1. Be honest about the product-client fit.

While a good salesperson is always honest, a better one is proactive and forthcoming. Andrew Schrage, co-owner of Money Crashers Personal Finance, says that being up front about potential issues during a sales conversation can potentially help your team close more sales in the future.

"As one example," Schrage says, "if you see a certain product or service isn't right for a client, tell them that, even if you don't have a suitable alternative. You might not get that sale, but you may have just earned a customer for life.

2. Scope out the competition.

What better way to outsell your competitors than to understand exactly how they're interacting with your target customers? Mario Peshev, CEO of DevriX, recommends sending your sales team to industry events or conferences sponsored by your competitors. There they can mingle with prospects, engage with their counterparts, and gauge their own sales process accordingly.

"Putting yourself in your customer's shoes may be challenging, but reflecting as a third person during a competitive sales pitch is truly educational," Peshev says.

3. Tell a great story.

Hard data and statistics are good to share, but those aren't always what land the sale. People are more likely to become your customers if they can connect with you, says Stephanie Wells, founder of Formidable Forms. That's why you need to master the art of storytelling as a salesperson.

"Instead of just hitting them with the facts, tell prospects about the success stories of your existing customers that they can relate to," says Wells.

4. Practice empathy.

Nearly every aspect of business is improved with listening and empathy, especially sales. Andrew Kucheriavy, founder and CEO of Intechnic, says that understanding another person's thoughts, feelings, and situation from their point of view, rather than from one's own, is critical to establishing a connection.

"Research suggests it is possible to boost the capacity for empathic understanding," Kucheriavy says, "so we train ourselves to become better at it every day."

5. Don't sell products; provide solutions.

Blair Thomas, co-founder of eMerchantBroker, encourages his team to focus on "solution selling," rather than the product itself during a sales conversation.

"Salespeople need to ask questions and use their expertise to provide solutions," Thomas explains. "This tactic helps form long-lasting relationships between sellers and customers because it puts the buyers first. Customers feel they are being listened to and their needs are being met."

6. Know when to back off.

Most people are immediately turned off when a salesperson becomes overly pushy. That's why Zach Binder, co-founder and president of Bell + Ivy, ensures his team learns how to recognize when they need to back off.

"If they sense their pitch is pushing people away, they need to pull back and give them space," says Binder.

7. Sell in a way that leverages your personal strengths.

Every salesperson is unique and has their own personal strengths that might help them close a deal. Kristy Knichel, president of Knichel Logistics, says she encourages her sales team to sell in the manner that is most effective for them -- which ultimately benefits the company, too.

"Some salespeople are hunters, while others are cultivators," Knichel says. "It does not make sense to force someone into a role they are not suited for. Those that are hunters are great at bringing on new clients, while those who cultivate retain them. Both roles are important."

Published on: Jun 11, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.