20 Ways to Improve Your Sales Skills (and Make More Money!)

Increasing Sales
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When the average consumer pictures a salesman, a suit-clad man with slicked back hair

Increasing Sales

Increasing Sales

and a thin smile is often the first thing that comes to mind. While the ability to schmooze and flatter may be beneficial for some sales professionals, the most effective salesmen have a much wider assortment of talents. Effective sales skills must be learned and developed over time, and many entrepreneurs struggle with a poor or ineffective sales pitch that they simply cannot seem to overcome.

There’s a great article by Martin Zwilling, a contributor at BusinessInsider.com, that discusses some of the most powerful and effective strategies for improving sales skills. I cannot stress enough the importance of practicing and improving basic sales skills, especially for an entrepreneur who is just starting to get a small business off the ground. The impression you make in your personal, telephone, and digital contact with potential buyers is a huge factor in determining the success of your business. A single mistake, flub, error, or insensitive statement can close the door forever with a potential customer. If you truly want to give your business the best chance of generating a real profit, these twenty strategies for improving sales skills may be just the ticket.

1. Make Eye Contact

Eye contact with your potential customers is incredibly important. Maintaining eye contact shows an individual that you are confident about your product or service, trustworthy and reliable, and interested in their reaction. Making eye contact can be intimidating for some professionals, so you may need to practice by meeting new people at a casual event before you try out your newly developed skill in a business setting.

2. Improve Phone Etiquette

Poor phone etiquette can be a huge problem for a sales professional. If your speech is unclear or difficult to understand, your interaction with a potential customer may have already started off on a bad foot. You can read up on telephone call etiquette and practice making phone calls that are clear, polite, and professional.

3. Get Outside Your Comfort Zone

Stepping outside your comfort zone is one of the simplest ways to prepare for a life as a sales professional. Selling a product or service can be an uncomfortable experience, and if you aren’t used to functioning in these uncomfortable situations, you will have trouble communicating under pressure.

4. Get a Grip

Did you know that many potential customers will subconsciously judge your entire presentation on the quality of your handshake? Finding the balance between firm and confident and intimidatingly crushing can be difficult. Practice your handshake with friends and colleagues, and ask them for honest feedback about the impression that this physical interaction makes.

5. Prepare Your Sales Pitch in Front of a Mirror

Practicing your sales pitch in front of a mirror will give you an idea of which facial expressions, gestures, and dramatic conversation points to implement in your overall strategy. It will also help to calm your nerves and give you a sense of preparedness that will make you appear more confident.

6. Be Prepared to Dazzle

When talking about a sales pitch, it’s important that you never leave anything to chance. Too much preparation is impossible when trying to improve sales skills. Gather all the documentation, presentation materials, visual aids, and other details you need in advance.

7. Invest in Some High Tech Gear

A little technology can dramatically improve the perceived quality of a sales presentation. A well-designed slide presentation or even a tablet computer that acts as a notepad will make you look well-versed in technology and quite modern in the eyes of the potential customer.

8. Attend Seminars and Workshops

If your sales skills are severely lacking, you might benefit from attending a workshop or seminar that is specifically designed to enhance and improve these skills. You can find workshops and seminars throughout the country that will help you hone your skills of communication and presentation.

9. Understand Your Customer Population

Unless you know your customer backward and forward, you cannot hope to present your business, products, and services in a way that will appeal to their needs and sensibilities.

10. Improve Travel and Scheduling Efficiency

Sometimes, the most important part of good salesmanship is effective planning. If you have to rush from one side of town to the other and back again, you’ll be hectic and distracted when it’s time to dazzle your customer.

11. Know To Whom You Should Be Speaking

Talking to the right people is an important part of an effective sales strategy. Unless you know the corporate structure of your customer business, you may direct your attention to an individual without any say in the matter.

12. Admit Your Shortcomings

Many entrepreneurs have trouble admitting their faults, flaws, and shortcomings. Don’t make the mistake of brushing off helpful advice because your pride prevents you from asking for help.

13. Talk to a Business Mentor

A business mentor or trusted advisor can be an excellent resource when you are trying to improve the quality of your sales pitch. Ask questions often, and you’ll slowly start to improve these skills.

14. Read a Highly Rated Self-Improvement Book

There are countless titles available at bookstores and libraries that have been written by sales professionals with incredible track records for success. Constantly inundating yourself with these expert voices will improve your own skill set.

15. Repeat Your Sales Pitch Over and Over Again

You should repeat your sales pitch so often that you could do it in your sleep. The more frequently you go over the pitch, the less likely you are to get tongue-tied during a presentation.

16. Don’t Forget to Follow Up

A huge part of successful salesmanship is effective follow-up. After a business presentation, be sure to send a note of thanks and invite the potential customer to ask any questions or bring up any concerns.

17. Get Organized

Organization is an essential sales professional skill. By improving your organization, you will have more time to devote to preparing for the sales pitch.

18. Sell with a Partner

Sometimes, selling with a partner is much more effective than selling alone. When two people are devoted to the same task, there is less chance of important information being neglected or forgotten.

19. Dress for Success

First impressions are hugely significant in the sales professional world. Don’t risk ostracizing or offending your potential customer by wearing unprofessional attire.

20. Embrace the Power of a Kind Word

Sometimes, all it takes to convince a customer to invest in your business, product, or service is a simple, kind word. An expression of appreciation, a tasteful compliment, or an honest question that shows you care can make a huge impression.

These twenty strategies will help you improve your sales skills and make more money for your business.

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