Increasing sales

How to improve sales performance

When it comes to sales, your customers have all the answers.

Knowing what, why, when and how your customers want to buy from you is the secret to making successful sales, and the first step to keeping your customers satisfied for life. If you're serious about making massive profits, you'll want to improve your selling skills at every opportunity. But knowing how to increase sales revenue is an ongoing challenge for many businesses.

How to improve at sales by listening to your customers

Where you end up with a sale very much depends on where you start. 

To sell successfully, you need to really get into your customers' heads. You need to understand things like the issues they are having, why they want or need to buy, what will actually motivate them to buy, and what they value.  

The key is to listen to what your customer is telling you, both directly and implicitly. It's easy to fall into the trap of listening only for problems that fit your own offerings, and to discount others, resulting in missing important opportunities.

So if you're struggling with how to increase sales revenue, the first challenge is to be able to look beyond your core business and understand a customer's full range of choices, for example-retailers, other service providers, online business, environmentally-friendly alternatives, discounters and the like.  

This exercise will enable you to gain a deeper understanding of competitors and help you better anticipate their moves.

Another challenge is to resist reeling off your product's or service's specs and features like a talking catalogue. Your customers don't buy facts and features – they buy solutions to their problems, or products or services that they believe are satisfying their needs or creating value for them.

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How to improve sales growth by asking the right questions

Asking great questions and listening carefully to the answers shows customers that you're genuinely interested in them and you're on the way to creating lasting customer relationships.

Great questions get your prospects to do all the selling for you. There's nothing more frustrating and off-putting than a salesperson that does all the talking. Try answering a question with a question. This builds customer rapport and ensures that the sale becomes their idea and not yours. You'll also find out exactly what your prospect is looking for by "digging deeper" for information, allowing you to provide a solution they can't say no to.

You remain in control of the conversation when you ask questions. If the customer is dominating the conversation by asking you questions, then answer the question with a question. Vary your questions and make them open-ended so your customer can provide you with useful information to help you determine which product/service is uniquely suited to them.

Be aware of the type of questions your prospect will ask when they're ready to buy, for example, "Do you have a payment plan for this?". This is a "buying signal", and you need to act on this quickly. Once again, answering the question with a question, you could reply, "What type of payment plan do you need?" 

You can't underestimate the importance of a good questioning technique – it can guide consumer interest, discover a need and give accurate information. Good questions encourage the customer to communicate, build rapport, establish needs, direct the conversation, diffuse tension and invite discussion.

Create unique value to improve sales performance

What you're aiming for with every sale is to create value for the customer, and to do this, you have to clearly understand the problems confronting them. Customer problems manifest themselves in many different ways, but in essence, a problem is a gap between their existing situation, and what they need, want or would like to achieve.

The gap is your opportunity to create value. The challenges for you or your sales team is to clearly understand that 'gap', and develop solutions through your products and services that can help the customer solve the problem and satisfy their needs.

A further challenge for your business in the fiercely competitive marketplace is that to create value with your proposition, your offering must appear unique in the customer's eyes. This is important because if the customer perceives unique value, the price will never be the issue in the purchasing decision.

Though customers' problems may appear similar, you can never assume they're the same, and in each and every situation, you or your team must illustrate why your value proposition is the best solution for the customer's requirements – one that is uniquely designed to meet their needs.

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