One question I get asked often by salespeople (especially those who are new or struggling) is how to increase sales. The internet is full of manipulation tactics and questionable techniques. Many salespeople feel discouraged when the answers they hear from coworkers, manager, or online go against their moral compass. I myself dealt with this, and I had to do a lot digging- but I believe I’ve found some answers.
Increasing sales is not easy, but it is simple.
There’s great deal that goes into being a good salesperson, and it may feel like a lot of work, but it is completely attainable if you apply these basic principles. Practice these for the next 30 days and you will see a huge improvement in your sales numbers.
The first place to start is setting goals. Goals give us direction. No direction = no destination. It reminds me of the movie Alice in Wonderland when Alice stopped to ask the Cheshire cat for directions.
She said, “… I wanted to ask you which way I ought to go.”
The Cheshire cat responded, “That depends on where you want to get to.”
Alice had no clue where she was going, or where she wanted to go. She had no direction. She said anywhere will do as long as she got somewhere.
The cat’s response was all too logical: “Then it really doesn’t matter which way you go.”
How often do we do this in sales? When we don’t have goals or direction, it doesn’t really matter what we get. All we care about is that we get something.
Settings goals puts a destination in mind. When we know where we want to go, we get an idea of the direction we need to get there.
The most successful people salespeople I know have been diligent about setting specific goals for themselves. They have a very clear idea of what they want, and how they want it, and they do what is necessary to be moving in that direction.
On top of that (and nearly as important as having the goals themselves), they wrote them down. There’s something about putting your goals down on paper that makes us so much more likely to achieve them. It makes them more real and tangible.
I really love putting my goals on a vision board. I put pictures on a piece of paper or a poster board of exactly what I want. If I want to be the top rep at my company, I print out the rankings and put my name on the top. When I wanted a new washer and dryer, I took a picture of the washer and dryer I wanted, and lo and behold it worked out by the grace of God that I was able to get them.
Visions boards work.
God wants to grant us the desires of our heart. When we come to Him with our goals, with our ambitions, and we pray about it, God can answer those prayers.
Sometimes, when we want something that is unhealthy, or not in line with God’s will for us, the answer is “no”. However, if we are following his ways, and seeking him with our whole heart, God helps us to succeed.
“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33
Have a Schedule
The next principle, and one of the most crucial is time management. It is nearly impossible to be successful when your schedule is unorganized.
This is actually something that I struggled with for a long time. Luckily, I found a few methods that really helped me to overcome this.
First, I had to block off my time for specific tasks and activities, and stick to it! By having specific tasks designated to specific times I was able to be more productive and keep my ADD at bay. Is anybody else like that? Oh look, a Facebook notification…………
I’m sorry, where were we?
You get it.
When we’re working on something, if we get on a roll, distractions can throw off all of our momentum. Then, we spend more time trying to refocus and lose precious hours of our day.
My schedule was pretty basic. I answered emails and did busy work first thing in the morning. Then, I spent the rest of my morning until lunch dialing out hard. When I’m calling, social and email notifications are OFF.
After lunch, I would check my email for any tasks that were extremely time sensitive. Once that was completed it was calling time again for the rest of the afternoon until the last hour or so of my day.
That last hour was spent completing paperwork from sales I had made, checking my email one last time, and getting my to-do list set up for the next day.
Your schedule will probably look different depending on the needs of your job. However, the basic principle is the same. By blocking off time we are ensuring that we eliminate as many momentum-killers as possible, increase our productivity, and ultimately our sales.
Let’s say I put you in a batting cage. Even if you’re a terrible batter and have never played baseball in your life, if I gave you 1,000 pitches, odds are you are going to hit some of them. You just have to keep swinging, right?
For salespeople, activity works the same way. The more pitches we swing at, the more hits we’re going to get. The more people you talk to, the more presentations you make, the more sales you’re going to close.
In order to increase sales it is crucial that we talk to as many prospects as possible. I have known salespeople who weren’t necessarily the most talented, but they were knocking it out of the park because they had incredible activity.
We talked about the importance of having a schedule. So, set your schedule up in a way that you can maximize the time of day when you can talk to your prospective customers, and don’t allow for distractions and momentum killers. This will be a surefire way to help increase your activity.
You’re not going to make sales staring at your phone. So pick it up, and start dialing.
Know Your Stuff
Imagine you’re in an electronics store. You want to buy a new TV. You may be a connoisseur of all things electronic, but let’s pretend for a moment you’re not. You ask the salesman which model would be better for you because you really want a smart TV that has Netflix.
What would you do if the salesman told you, “I’m not sure, but this TV over here is really nice. It’s 65 inches.” However, the TV he presented was not a smart TV and didn’t have Netflix on it.
You’d be a little irritated, right? Was this guy even listening to a word you said? He probably wasn’t, and he just didn’t have the product knowledge to be able to help you.
Sadly, this happens all the time.
There’s nothing I dislike more as a consumer than trying to get my questions answered about a product and the person I’m talking to has no clue.
Now, there is grace to some degree for people who are new. The salesman could have told you, “gosh, I’m not sure because this is only my second week here, but my colleague here knows. I’ll ask him for you!”
It’s my opinion that is best way to handle a lack of product knowledge when you’re new- be honest with your prospects, and tell them you want to provide great service so you’re going to find that information for them. People can respect that.
That aside, what about the people who don’t know and just fudge their way through an answer, because they’re afraid to look unintelligent or unprepared? It just makes things worse.That is why it is so important to know your stuff.
The more you know about your products and services the more you can tailor the customer’s solution specific to their needs. This is consultative selling- we’ll talk more on that in a second.
All sales should be focused on benefits and not solely on the features. If I really know my product like the back of my hand, then when a customer tells me that they need a particular problem solved, I know which part of my product to leverage during my recommendation.
If I don’t know my product how can I provide a solution for my customer?
It’s also helpful to have a lot of knowledge about your industry in general. There’s tons of statistics and resources online for all kinds of different Industries, whether you’re selling business-to-business or selling to the public.
Having knowledge about what’s going on in your industry or in your customer’s industry can be a huge differentiator between you and the next salesperson. Any way that you can be a resource to your client makes you more valuable and helps you to stand out from the competition.
As I mentioned before, we need to make sure that we are offering a solution to our clients that fits their specific needs. Your customers are not going to buy from you if the product that you’re offering isn’t solving some type of problem or answering a need for them.
So how do we figure out what that need is?
It’s very simple. We ask.
Think of it as a simple conversation. Your customer speaks and you actually listen to their answers.
There have been so many times I have sat through sales calls where the sales rep was almost interrogating their prospect. They had a list of questions they knew they needed to ask and went down that list checking off boxes. They didn’t listen to what the customer was saying, they didn’t ask any logical follow-up questions.
They missed out on key conversation and key information that would have helped them to land the sale. Because they weren’t getting the deep information they needed, when it came time to make their pitch and recommend a product or a solution to the customer, they weren’t able to tie what the customer said they needed to the specific benefits that that product or solution offered.
In other words, they were just pitching something and hoping the customer would buy.
There was no value built. That’s why it is so crucial that we actually listen to our customer’s needs.
For example, if I am selling a car, and the customer comes in and tells me that they have 5 kids and are on a budget, I am not going to pitch them the luxury coupe. Not only are they not going to buy it, they’re probably going to be very offended that I didn’t hear what their needs were.
Now, if instead I show them a used base model minivan or a small SUV with a third row, that’s going to be much more likely to end in a sale. And think how happy they’ll be when I throw in some free air fresheners because they told me their kids are in hockey (man that stuff stinks!).
It’s those little tidbits that salespeople often miss when they aren’t listening that can rob them of a sale. When they catch those- when the customer feels like they’re being heard and that the salesperson actually cares about what their needs are- that’s when the magic happens.
That’s when loyal customers are made.
I am so passionate about self-development. I don’t care what you do, it is always beneficial to invest in you. There are so many different ways that you can do this! The world is a treasure trove of information just waiting for you.
I’ll state the obvious resource first- The Bible! Read it regularly. It’s incredible how much you can learn about sales and just being a good person from the words of Jesus.
Another one of my favorite resources is YouTube. I’ve watched tons of videos about sales and other areas of my life that I’ve wanted to grow. All you have to do is search what you want to work on and you will find hundreds of videos with solid information.
Along with Youtube videos are podcasts. I’ll throw one on during my commute home instead of listening to music, or I’ll listen to one on the drive into work to get my mind right and get me pumped up for the day. It’s a great way to use downtime to fill my mind and feed my soul. This is a cool way to get into the Word too!
Now, obviously, we can’t leave out tried and true goodies that are self-help books. You can find self-help books on anything. I don’t know about you, though, I don’t have the cash flow to be spending hundreds of dollars a month on the books I want to read. I have found some great alternatives to this.
Sometimes I feel like I’m the last person in the world who is still going to the library, but I think so many people forget how great it is to read actual books, on-demand, and for free! It’s great for when you just want that physical book in your hand. Check out your local library- I guarantee you it’s got a section just for those self-help books! Not sure where one is? Check out this Worldcat.org Local Library Finder
I also use services like Audible and Kindle Unlimited. If you have never used Audible before check out this link to get TWO FREE Audiobooks (your welcome!).
I have another post coming about my favorite self-help resources, and what books in particular I recommend. Be sure to check back soon for a complete guide and where you can find them for yourself.
Learn from the Best
Self-development doesn’t just come from books and podcasts. There have been many times in my career when I’ve learned really important lessons from the people around me.
I looked around the office at the sales people I was working with, and I asked myself, “who here has what I want?”
I singled out the people who were successful, dependable, and ethical. I asked them for time together so that I could pick their brain. This proved to be a priceless resource.
I learned so much from those people, many of them are still mentors of mine today. It’s so important that we remain teachable as salespeople.
There’s a saying in the sales world, popularized by the movie Glengarry Glen Ross: A-B-C, always be closing. While I believe there is value in that, my personal saying is ABL, always be learning.
Those people that are succeeding around you have so much that you can learn from. Self-development doesn’t just come from book and podcasts. Utilize the people around you as well.
It never pays to be fake. Your prospects and clients can tell when you’re putting up a smokescreen. A fake laugh, a false smile, feigned interest- they can be easily spotted a mile away.
Don’t fake it with your clients. Be yourself. People appreciate somebody who is real.
Now, I don’t mean bring all of your baggage into work and tell your prospects your sob story because you’re having a bad day, all in the name of transparency. Sometimes as professionals, we have to put on a happy face even when we don’t feel so happy.
That’s called adulting.
What I mean is this: if it’s not in your typical behavior to do something, for example talking with a southern accent, then don’t do it.
A lot of salespeople think they need to say whatever it takes to build rapport and commonality. They take the idea of “mirroring” their client to the extreme. Don’t lie just to create common ground. It’s not necessary. If you have a real interest in your prospect, they will most likely show real interest back.
Create that common ground by actually getting to know your prospect and sharing on mutual experiences. If your prospect has kids and you have kids, share a candid story about some funny thing your kids did. If you’re both avid baseball fans, take a few minutes to exchange your own personal ESPN commentary on last nights game.
Just don’t make it up! Don’t be disingenuous. If you lie, you will get caught in it. Don’t risk it.
Consumers don’t trust fake salespeople. People won’t buy from someone they don’t trust. Be you, and be real. Your sales will thank you for it.
This is important. I have quit jobs before where I was making darn good money because I was asked to compromise my ethics.
I’ve heard the Bible referred to as Basic Instructions Before Leave Earth. I like that analogy. It is a blueprint for the life of a good person. There’s plenty of examples of how not to live, and one great example of how we should live.
We are cautioned so many times in the Bible about being unethical. The book of Proverbs alone has dozens and dozens of verses about how we should behave in personal and professional relationships. “The ends justify the means” is nowhere in scripture.
I love Proverbs 13:11, which states “Wealth obtained by fraud dwindles, But the one who gathers by labor increases it.”
Don’t obtain your wealth by fraud. Be ethical. Be honest. Let your prospects see Christ in you by the way you handle your business. Be somebody that you would want to do business with. This will take you a long way, and people will respect you for it.
Don’t Give Up
Last, but not least… the best piece of advice I have on how to increase sales is this: Never, ever give up.
Don’t give up on the process, on doing what’s right, and especially not on yourself. How many people do you know that quit before the miracle? People with so much potential that gave up because the road was challenging?
Sales is hard. Anybody who says differently is full of malarkey. If sales was easy we wouldn’t get commissions. That’s why we have to labour for it, and not give up.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,” (Hebrews 12:1)
Don’t stop running. Don’t ever stop.
Photo of Runner Courtesy of Bradley Wentzel
If you apply these principles and go to God in prayer to help you accomplish these things, I guarantee you that you will see an improvement in your sales results and overall satisfaction in your career in the next 30 days.
I believe in you!