Editor’s Note: This is the tenth and final article in a series identifying the best sales techniques for 2015. To view the rest of the series, visit 100 best sales ideas 2015.

As any sales professional will tell you, selling is as much art as it is science. It takes skill to sell in a digital universe, but, more than that, it takes intuition, social media savvy and a deep understanding of the market you are looking to reach.

Each year we poll the industry’s best to find out what single selling tip has made the biggest difference in their practices. Here, in no specific order, is our collection of the 100 tips that will help you sell well in 2015. Read, learn and leave your own suggested sales tips in the comments section below. 

Editor’s Note: This is the last article in a 10-part series identifying the best sales techniques for 2015.  To view the rest of the series, visit 100 best sales ideas 2015.

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100. Everyone should have the opportunity to say “no.”

The average American knows 600 people, according to the New York Times. Have they all been given the opportunity to do business? Let’s assume you’ve taken the time to explain who you are and what you do across your extended social circle. If they don’t rise to the occasion we might assume, they aren’t interested. Worse, we take people “off the list” because we perceive they are in difficult financial straits or going through a life changing event like divorce. 

Everyone should have the opportunity to say no. If you ask and they decline, that’s fine. Don’t make the decision for them.

— Bryce Sanders, President, Perceptive Business Solutions Inc.

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99. Maximize opportunities for social discovery.

With the widespread adoption of social media, we are no longer searching for news — news is finding us! A similar trend is now taking place with products and services. Consumers are being increasingly influenced by social media — discovering local business, products and services via friends and family recommendations. With the availability of “social login,” marketing professionals must anticipate this “social discovery” accelerating on virtually all products and services, and ensure it is a key component of all future marketing plans. 

—Vinay Murthy, Vice President, Business Development, KnownCircle / SocialTwist 

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98. Have one thing be “your thing.”

 Your organization may offer a full array of benefits, but it’s not necessary or even plausible to be top-of-mind for all of them with your clients. Pick an area you can dominate as a subject-matter expert and market yourself as a known authority in that field. I do this with dental insurance. Clients and prospects may initially call me for dental benefits expertise but often end up asking about our other products once I’ve demonstrated a mastery of that niche.

— Patrick Garrabrant, Director of Large Group and Affinity Sales, HealthPlan.com

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97. Make it meaningful.

The best marketing tip I ever received was from Mike Maddock, co-founder and CEO of Maddock Douglas. It goes something like this:

“If you want a really effective marketing campaign, you better make sure that what you are selling is really meaningful to a lot of people.”

This is a humbling truth about the relative importance of the role of a marketer. A marketer’s role is important; however to be really effective, the marketer must also have the ability to impact the offering itself, not just design a glitzy campaign. The offering could be a product, service or the customer experience. When you consider the speed of change in consumer tastes and desires, you see that the role of a marketer is quickly transforming into the role of an innovator. Consequently, marketers must develop a new set of skills to remain relevant in the decades to come.

— Maria Ferrante-Schepis, managing principal for insurance and financial services innovation at Maddock Douglas.

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96. Work your strengths; delegate the rest.

Why is it some seem to reach extraordinary amounts of success while others peak and can’t seem to get past their current plateau?

Those who see great success have learned their strengths, how to exploit them, and how to delegate the rest in order to maximize their time. We all have the same 24-hour day to work with; why not spend it wisely and focus an extreme amount of effort at what you’re great at and figure out a way to add someone to your team to take care of the rest. There are ways to optimize, systematize, and scale if you get out of your own way.

We’ve all heard it a million times: work on your business and not in your business. Sales and marketing has to be treated this way, too. You need to learn in what areas you can dominate and make it a priority to fill your time with those types of tasks, so long as they add to your bottom line. Any time you find yourself completing tasks over and over, you need a system to take care of it. Any time you find yourself lost and wasting time on something you’re unfamiliar with, find someone who can do it now, and learn to do it on your own later.

We also have the advantages of technology no previous generation has had — useful tech is all around us and can multiply our efforts. As a younger person, I’ve grown up with technological acclimation, where others may continue to do things how they always have at the risk of becoming obsolete. This is a pattern which has to end.

Time is always ticking. Make the most of every second.

— Jason Fisher, Owner, BestLifeRates.org

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95. Forge ties with business partners.

Under the insurance umbrella, there are many ways agents can build their business. One of these is mortgage protection, the most important coverage people place on their home, making you even more valuable to your clients. Note that “mortgage protection” is really another way to describe life insurance — in this instance, a personal policy with living benefit riders set up in relation to a mortgage. 

In real estate sales, most people know about primary mortgage insurance and homeowners insurance. The lender is protected against default, and the physical structure is covered in case of theft, fire or damage. All bases seem covered, but what if the new homeowner or a breadwinner passes away, or becomes ill or disabled and can’t work?

Connecting with realtors and real estate professionals might generate leads and establish a complete real estate services team that will serve your clients and energize your business.

— Jim Katzaman, Manager, American Classic Agency

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94. Make technology work for you, not the other way around.

Countless software tools provide ways to acquire, nurture and retain clients. Ensure you protect your personal brand and image by making sure each system has accurate information. Some software syncs this information automatically, so there is no excuse to have botched data. Nobody likes a “Dear Sir or Madam” email these days.

—John Marcus III, CEO and Co-Founder, Bedrock Data  

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93. Try this 4-step strategy. 

1. Get off the couch and into the world you are developing. “Fear has no enemies but itself.”

2. Discover if you’re talking to the right person to make that decision for that product.

3. Ask questions that are comfortable, direct and professional that pertain to the topic you are selling, to see if there is a timely need for your product or service. (The “Bull in the China Closet” approach has never successfully worked for me.)

4. Rapport is everything!

— Dick Klick, independent agent and broker

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92. Consider seminars.

In my experience, there is no form of advertising or marketing better than seminars. Zero. If your goal is to expose yourself and your business to new prospective clients on a consistent basis, then by all means please consider hosting regular seminars.

Our industry has a unique advantage that I firmly believe many financial professionals are failing to capitalize on. This advantage is the need for a personal relationship to be present before any business takes place. 

When people choose to employ the services of financial professionals, there are specific elements of “human touch” that simply cannot be trumped by any form of technology or internet search. There is a personal relationship that needs to be developed. Seminars give you that opportunity. 

Christopher P. Hill, RFC®, President, Wealth and Income Group LLC

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91. Men and women are different (duh!), so why do you offer them the same long-term care plan?

I think it’s time to start planning differently. For years we’ve forced stand-alone long-term care insurance (LTCI) on both men and women because we didn’t see any other options. Our solution has been the shared care benefit, so that, if the man did not need care, then the woman could use the benefits and they wouldn’t be wasted. Unfortunately, the industry requires both spouses to choose identical benefits to use a shared benefit rider. This often drives us to recommend higher benefits for the male than are necessary. Using shared benefits continues to be a viable option for couples but I think we can get a little more creative and do better for our clients. For almost every couple that I see I am offering a linked benefit option for the male. Depending upon their financial situation and health, I may offer a single-premium option or an annual pay option. Fact finding also helps me to determine whether a life-linked or annuity-linked product makes sense. We know that the husband is much less likely to need care and that he will probably need it for a shorter period of time than his wife. So, why not allow the wife to receive a death benefit if her husband does not need care? You also reduce their risk of future rate increases because most linked products offer guaranteed rates. 

— Timothy Kelly, Vice President, Sales, Individual Commercial Brokerage, Inc.