Direct Sales Tips and Techniques

March 29, 2017 | Direct Sales

Tina Nicola, M.A.

Tina is the founder of and has been creating profitable marketing and exhibit strategies for startups, small businesses and nonprofits for over nineteen years. Her main goal is to broaden access to the techniques she has developed so anyone can benefit and improve exhibiting strategy, sales conversations and follow up.

Techniques That Work!

Looking for direct sales tips that actually result in quality leads and sales? Here’s our list!

Stop Traffic with Open-Ended Icebreakers

Got a stand, exhibit or booth at a direct sales event? It is YOUR job to stop traffic and start conversations that might lead to a sale!

“Hey there” or a “How’s it going?” isn’t going to cut it. Passerbys hear these comments as greetings and walk right on by. Instead craft Icebreakers that use open-ended questions. This is possibly the most important of the direct sales tips you’ll need! After all, if you aren’t talking to anyone, it’s very unlikely you’ll sell anything at a direct sales event.

Questions that start with ‘Do’ or ‘Have’ or ‘Are’ require a response. Potential customers are more likely to feel the social pressure, and pause long enough to answer you. Then, you’ve got a hook! Keep the conversation going to determine if they might be a good lead.

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Qualify Leads with the A-C-T-I-O-N Criteria

Once you’ve started a conversation, your goal is to find out as quickly as possible if this person is a person likely to buy from you– ie, a ‘good lead.’ This direct sales tip will save you from wasting time talking to someone who is is never likely to buy.

The acronym ‘A-C-T-I-O-N’ can help you remember the criteria of a ‘good lead.’ A good lead…

  • Authority: Has authority to purchase your product
  • Compatibility: Has a budget and purchase process compatible with yours
  • Timeline: Can purchase in your ideal timeline
  • Identity: Whose identity you know
  • Obstacles: Has no obstacles to doing business with you
  • Needs or wants your product

Find out more about the lead qualification.

Immediately Disengage from Poor Leads

At a direct sales event, time is money. That means you can’t continue a conversation with someone who is not likely to buy from you now or anytime in the near future.

If you find out the person you are speaking with fails to meet the good lead A-C-T-I-O-N criteria, disengage! A simple “Well it was so nice to meet you. Have a great show!” will usually do the trick. Or: “I don’t want to take up too much of your time. Thanks for stopping by!”

Find out more about the Disengagement step of any direct sales strategy plan.

Define Several Sales Goals in Advance

Come to any direct sales event prepared with several specific ‘sales goals’ in mind. Of course, making the sale should be one of them. However, a great sales goal is also any action that you can take or get the customer to commit to that gets you closer to a sale.

This might include things like giving out a product sample or signing the lead up to see a product demo! Remember: ‘Awareness’ isn’t a sales goal!

Find out more about Defining Sales Goals for a direct sales strategy plan.

Get a ‘No’? Switch Sales Goals

In sales, sometimes a ‘no’ from a customer can be a maybe. The potential customer just says ‘no thanks’ as a way to buy time to think or browse. So, what do you do if you get a ‘no thanks’ but you think the person might still be a good lead?

Switch to a sales goal that requires less commitment. For instance, if the potential customer doesn’t want to talk to you, offer them a free product sample or give them an FYI about any sales the store may be having.

Direct Sales Techniques That Sink Sales

We’ve noticed there are some really, really bad direct sales tips and techniques floating out there in internet land. Many bad direct sales techniques are wielded because inexperienced sales reps think they ‘make sense’ or because they were popular in a bygone era. Don’t let it be you!

Here’s our top list of ‘techniques’ to avoid.

“If I build it, they will come”

We call this technique ‘passive exhibiting’ and it is never, ever better than being active! Passive direct sales reps think that being active = being pushy. They often think it is someone or something else’s job to drive great leads to their doorstep– the marketing team, a snazzy booth, etc.

Find out more about passive direct sales and why to avoid it in our article on Sales Icebreakers.

“Come on, you know you wanna try a pretzel!”

On the flip side, other direct sales reps think that being active requires being pushy. We’ve all encountered a pushy sales rep- think the stereotypical used car salesman.

If you get a ‘no thanks’– even to trying a pretzel sample– don’t continue persisting with the exact same sales goal. Instead, try switching to a new sales goal requiring less commitment. Active sales should always be done in a friendly and non-intimidating way.

“The long pitch”

In the world of sales and business, you’ll often hear talk about ‘pitches.’ While pitches have their place (think a venture capital meeting), that place is not direct sales.

Why? Pitches create the feeling of being ‘talked at’ not ‘with.’ Direct sales success depends on solving problems. Pitches share too much generic product information without knowing enough about a potential customer’s specific needs.

Instead, think of ways to turn ‘pitches’ into ‘soundbites’– short 2-3 sentence bites of information that can be used in direct response to a need or problem the customer actually has.

Find out better ways to share product information with leads in our article on Qualifying Leads.

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