10 Tips to Improve Your Sales Performance

By John H. Dean
Person writing the word revenue with blue marker to show increased sales

Increasing sales and improving sales performance is a focus of many organizations today. It doesn’t matter what industry you’re selling in (or even what you are selling), the need for increased sales is common. Traditional ways of selling and long-term sales strategies to boost sales performance have been slowly evolving over the past five years, but the major shifts and changes we saw last year in business – and, essentially, in everyday lives – accelerated this movement.

Organizations are looking for the right tips, tactics, and strategies to increase sales and seller performance. Many are asking, “Do we have the right sales talent? Do we have the right sales plan? Does our sales strategy still work? And how do we get more sales leads?”

These are all critical questions as organizations search for answers – starting with whether the fundamental building blocks of sales performance are in place. That’s why we’ve put together 10 tips to help in the journey.

Tip 1: Clarify your sales strategy and business mission

Re-evaluate your business niche and what you do best. Ask yourself some key questions:

  • Is your business mission the same as it was the last time you evaluated it, or have things changed?
  • Who is your target market, and what challenges are they facing that your product or service could help solve?
  • What is the market willing to pay for your product or service?
  • How do you best approach this target market to get more sales, i.e., what’s the best form of communication?

The answers to these questions are the foundation of your sales strategy and ensuring it is on target with your sales goals and objectives. If this strategy is off, your answers to how to increase sales and gain more sales leads will also be off – so ensure they are aligned.

Tip 2: Create a sales plan that identifies specific actions

Once you have your sales strategy and sales plan in place, break the mission into specific goals. Document and track the following key measures:

  • Calls per day, per month, and per quarter
  • Communication steps and cadence for proposals and sales prospects
  • Profit per sales

Create a sales plan to track the activities, goals, and outcomes of each of the above so you can monitor and measure progress closely and focus your attention on the activities that begin to pay off the largest.

Tip 3: Sell proactively to customer needs

Understanding the customer and prospect mindset is key to gaining trust, building rapport, and maintaining loyalty. While it used to be solely about emphasizing the value that solves a challenge (and that still holds true), the modern-day buyer audience desires an experience that not only solves a problem but offers long-term solutions to complex business challenges – an experience that will pay off over time. This starts with truly understanding the customers’ needs and how your solutions will provide a proactive approach to customer needs that may not even realize they have yet.

Tip 4: Elevate your customer experience

When customers struggle to engage with your business – whether through a marketing channel, website, app, sales process, customer support, or any other aspect – they will be reluctant to buy your solution or continue building a relationship.

An investment and focus on customer service, nurturing, and marketing activities lets them know you care about their business and elevates the customer experience with you and your organization – ultimately driving loyalty and further engagements.

Tip 5: Always sell with purpose

Take every step with meaning and intent. Truly understand who you are targeting and why, i.e., what are their specific needs? How are you going to address those needs through communication channels and conversation? What does your proposal look like, and why? When are you going to ask for the close, and how will you guide them to saying yes? Be purposeful every step of the way.

Tip 6: Ask first, listen second, act third

You’ve likely heard of the 80/20 rule, and it still holds true as a mechanism for understanding the balance of a conversation. Of your content or information, 80% should address your prospect or customer’s needs; the other 20% should be specifically about your company and the benefits you offer. In other words, use only 20% of the time talking about your company and what you can offer; devote the other 80% of the time to asking questions, listening, and answering inquiries when prompted.

Your listening skills must be active and highly developed so you can be creative, prepared, relevant, and direct about your questions, and take action that shows the customer you heard them.

Tip 7: Take the responsibility but not the credit

Your company looks to you for support, for direction, and to drive the performance of others – so give credit to the team, not yourself. This sends your team the message that you never lose sight of their contributions and the people who make the wins possible. In turn, they strive for the next week and stay hungry. After all, unhappy employees are never going to be your top sellers.

Tip 8: Practice the basics of “how to sell”

We all have weaknesses or things we don’t like to do, and we all have room for improvement. Decide to improve your weaknesses and set goals that force you to begin doing things you don’t like to do. Overcoming these obstacles can help you find new creative ways to prospect, fact-find, and present, and will ensure you master the basics of selling from every angle.

Tip 9: Keep your sales strategy one step ahead of your competition

After big wins and years of success, you may be tempted to take a break, slow down, and relish your accomplishments. But always remember: Your competition is right behind you – so don’t get complacent.

Always look for ways to improve your sales techniques and sales processes and to grow your personal sales performance.

Tip 10: Maximize your time by maximizing your data

Most sales teams have oodles of data at their fingertips. Instead of collecting more, start to slice and dice the data you already have so you can use it to help you maximize your time and understand where your efforts pay off the most. If you have a CRM, use it to understand how your sales strategy is working, if training is increasing sales performance, and if content is on target with what prospects and customers are asking.

Use these data and insights to create new goals and sales schedules that accelerate sales performance and productivity.