How do the world’s most successful entrepreneurs achieve high sales? They’re constantly coming up with ways to improve sales performance. Take some advice from Branson and others to improve sales techniques.
Every business wants to improve its sales performance. They constantly search for ideas to improve sales, and end up throwing everything against the wall to see what sticks.
Unfortunately, this leads to poor sales strategies that can damage the company’s reputation. Customers don’t want to shop with companies that have bad ideas to improve sales.
You don’t have to go it alone. Some of the world’s most successful people were once in the position you’re in right now. But where you may struggle, they’ve worked out how to increase sales in an organization. Salespeople like Richard Branson, and W.Clement Stone know the secrets. They’re also willing to share what they know to help you achieve more.
That’s where this list comes in. We’ve collected some of the best ideas to improve sales from some of the world’s leading salespeople.
Richard Branson: Showcase Your Passion
Since beginning his career, delivering records door-to-door, Richard Branson has amassed a fortune. His business interests over the years have included music, railways, and aviation. In fact, he may be one of the most versatile entrepreneurs in the world. Branson’s dedication to his work shines through in everything he does. He also believes that his passion is one the best ways to improve sales performance.
“Some salespeople focus exclusively on presenting statistics and accounting-based arguments to make their points, forgetting to put passion into their pitches. They lose their listeners immediately,” he says.
“…There are few things less interesting than a PowerPoint presentation, and hearing someone read the points aloud is one of them.”
Here’s what Branson teaches us. Your facts and figures are important. Potential clients want to hear about the proven benefits of your product. However, you’ll bore them if you only deliver the stats. Clients want to see that you love your product. After all, a lack of passion on your end won’t inspire passion in them.
Show clients that you love what you do, and that you truly believe your product can help them. Present with verve and vigor to capture the imagination. Slot the facts and figures in too, but surround them with a presentation that highlights your passion.
Hootsuite Founder Ryan Holmes: Use Social Media
The founder of HootSuite, Ryan Holmes has dedicated
his career to helping others to use social media to their advantage. He understands social media like few others, and recognizes it as an underused sales tool.
He says: “Social media has shaken up the world of sales, with Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter offering new ways to hound leads, and unprecedented insights into clients.”
While “hounding” leads is something you want to avoid, Holmes’ point stands. Social media offers you the ability to communicate directly with sales prospects. You can become an authority in your field if you answer questions. Greater authority means more people come to you for advice, leading to higher sales.
Social media websites also offer statistical insights into the people you communicate with. Use it to learn where your target audience is, and how you can appeal to them. Understanding your audience is key to increasing sales productivity and performance.
Holmes adds that social media monitoring is the key to sales success. He says: “…Retailers can amplify successful marketing and sales strategies, and avoid weak tactics.”
W. Clement Stone: Have a Great Attitude
Clement Stone may not be one of the most recognizable entrepreneurs on this list. However, he is one of the most impressive. Stone amassed his business empire, focusing primarily on insurance, during the mid-20th century. He built all of it from $100 in savings.
Stone was a great believer in the power of positivity. Most importantly, he understood that a sales force must maintain a positive attitude, even in the face of adversity.
As he once said: “Sales are contingent upon the attitude of the salesman – not the attitude of the prospect.”
Stone teaches us a great lesson about how to improve sales skills with this quote. Attitude is everything. The moment you lose patience with a prospect is also the moment you lose the sale. Maintain positive spirits, even when confronted with a difficult sales prospect. Don’t let such experiences drag you down either.
People judge you based on how you treat them. If you seem bored or unhappy when pitching or selling, your clients will assume the product plays a part in your mood. Be happy, positive, and passionate, no matter who you’re selling to.
Heidi Tucker: Keep Your First Five Clients Happy
Heidi Tucker serves as the Vice President of Global Alliances at InsideView. The company provides marketing and sales advice to over 20,000 companies. Tucker focuses on using people data to improve sales, but she also understands the importance of keeping clients happy.
In particular, she says that a new entrepreneur must focus on their first five customers.
“A company needs to focus on no more than five partners. Do whatever it takes to make those successful,” she says.
“How can you make a partner’s “day job” better? If you can do that, the partnership has a good chance of succeeding.”
Your early successes create the foundation for greater sales later on. Furthermore, keeping existing customers happy is one of the best ways to improve sales performance. Happy customers go to bat for you. They’ll recommend you to others, as well as coming back when they need your services.
As a new entrepreneur, focus on getting it right with your first five customers. They’ll sell your services for you if they’re satisfied with your offering. Established companies can take this further. Develop referral schemes, and encourage your existing customers to talk about you on social media.
Ernst and Young: Prioritize Your People
A professional development firm based in the UK, Ernst and Young offers guidance to entrepreneurs. Each year, they release a report, in which they select the entrepreneur of the year.
This report studies how 2,000 entrepreneurs improve sales techniques. The 2012 Ernst and Young report highlights the importance of prioritizing your people to improve sales results.
The report says: “These entrepreneurs and their companies overwhelmingly cite people as their leading priority. In addition, they really differentiate themselves is in their ability to communicate their vision and instill their passion to their team. More than 40% cite this as their biggest strength.”
Here’s what we can learn from this quote. Your people are your biggest asset. If they don’t understand your vision, they can’t perform to the best of their abilities. Ensure your sales teams understand how they must communicate with clients, and what you want them to achieve.
Reward successes, and boost morale when things go badly. Keep your people happy and they’ll have passion for what they do. Their work reflects this, which leads to increased sales.
Zig Ziglar and Jeffrey Gitomer – Work Harder Than Everyone Else
A motivational speaker, Zig Ziglar’s presentations often focus on ideas to improve sales. While he discusses several ways to improve sales performance, he says there’s no substitute for hard work.
As he puts it: “The top salesperson in the organization probably missed more sales than 90% of the salespeople on the team. But they also made more calls than the others made.”
Persistence is key. Salespeople get knocked back all the time. It’s how they respond that determines their overall success. Learn from every failed sales attempt. Use those lessons to adapt and improve sales techniques. Most importantly, work harder than anyone else.
Motivational speaker and sales coach Jeffrey Gitomer offers similar advice.
“There’s no lotion or potion that will make sales faster and easier for you – unless your potion is hard work.”
Sales isn’t something that you can learn in a day. The most successful sales efforts grow from hard work and dedication.
Harvey Mackay – Don’t Save the Best Until Last
Harvey Mackay enjoyed his greatest successes with Mackay Envelope Company. Currently the company’s chairman, Mackay built the firm into the most successful envelope company in North America. He is also a successful author and a public speaker.
Mackay says that saving the best until last is one of the worst ideas to improve sales performance.
“You don’t need a big close, as many sales reps believe. You risk losing your customer when you save all the good stuff for the end,” he says.
“Keep the customer actively involved throughout your presentation, and watch your results improve.”
Much like Branson, Mackay emphasizes the importance of keeping clients invested in your pitches. Where Branson favors passion, Mackay opts for impressing right off the bat. Get to the meat of the matter early. Tell your clients how your product helps them, and offer the figures to prove it.
Droning on for half an hour before getting to the good stuff disengages your clients. They’re bored by the time you get to what you actually need to say. Start strong, and maintain that strength throughout your sales pitches.
Every entrepreneur has their own ways to improve sales performance. The key lies in finding a technique that works well for your company. The entrepreneurs on this list offer useful advice. Use it to develop new sales ideas.
Don’t be afraid to experiment. Try new techniques, and work as hard as you can to stand out from your competition. Have great passion for everything you do, and remember that sales is all about your clients. How you treat them is a reflection of your brand. Unhappy clients talk, but so do happy ones. Keep existing customers happy, and they’ll become a salesforce in their own right.
Furthermore, understand the importance of your people. You can’t achieve sales success if your teams feel unmotivated and dispassionate. Showcase your passion for what you do, and others will follow.
Take the advice these entrepreneurs offer, and think about how you can apply it to your current sales techniques. You may find that a little tweaking is all you need to boost sales.
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