Sales is tough. It’s tough because it typically requires hours and hours of effort with sparse rewards. That said, it can also be the most lucrative position if you’re able to close the right deals. Luckily for you, there are sales tactics that have been proven to work over the years.

Here are five essential sales tactics that every salesperson should know and practice:

Make Sure Every Prospect is Highly Qualified

If you want to succeed in sales you need to start at the very bottom of the pipeline. Your prospects. You should spend about 70 to 80 percent of your time prospecting new customers. Now here’s the catch. Most people think sales is all about the numbers. This is true to an extent but if you focus too much on quantity you’ll end up wasting time on unqualified leads.

When you prospect you need to be very diligent that all of your leads are highly qualified. If they aren’t an ideal customer why spend the time pursuing them? It may look good on your excel spreadsheet to have hundreds of leads but if only half represent ideal customers it does you no good.

Build Relationships First

As you make contact with clients it’s common for individuals to get excited and jump straight into the sale. Often times this overwhelms the prospect and the deal falls apart. As you make contact with clients you should focus on building a relationship before you do anything else. Once you build some rapport and credibility with the client they’ll begin to trust you. When you win their trust you’ve created the opportunity.

The best way to do this is by asking questions. Try to understand the customer’s current situation. What products are they currently using? What are their pain points? The more you can learn about the prospect now the better you’ll position yourself when closing the deal later.

Be Strict About Deadlines

As a sales professional you need to create a sense of urgency with your potential clients. If you constantly change your deadlines to appeal to every customer you’ll begin to lose credibility.

You need to show them that your time is valuable and that you’re not going to wait around for them. Of course there are times when you can be flexible but only if it’s in your favor.

Tell a Story

It’s common for sales people to rely on statistics and data to sell their products. Data is typically good to use when promoting your products but who wants to hear it?

While statistics and data are important you should leave them to your case studies and marketing materials. When you’re selling you should stick to storytelling as much as possible. Give an anecdote about one of your customers who’s benefitted from your products or services. Use real names of people and companies so your prospects can do their due diligence on their own. People are much more likely to remember a story compared to statistics.

Be Strategic About Referrals

Referral sales are arguably the most effective sales channel available to you. That said, you need to be very strategic on when you ask for one since you only really have one shot.

It’s estimated that 91 percent of customers will provide a referral contact to salespeople that they like. This makes it extremely important to develop a personal relationship with that client before even approaching the topic of referrals.

The key here is to train your sales team to evaluate client relationships. Once you’re able to see the opportunity then it’s time to initiate the conversation. Ideally you can work the ask into a specific point in your sales pipeline so your sales team never misses a chance.

Final Thoughts

If you want to be an effective salesperson then you need to practice the right methods. That said, use these five essential sales tactics that have been proven to work in the field.