Small Steps to Better Sales

By Cindy Waxer

Stalled sales, unreturned calls and dead-end leads can convince sales professionals to completely overhaul their selling techniques, but that may not be a good idea. Co-founder of Direct Response Media, Maria Eden says that simply tweaking your sales tactics can be the added touch needed to turn cold calls into cold, hard numbers. Here Eden shares some small steps to selling that can make a big difference.

Know Thy Customer
It’s not enough to throw out a pile of pitches and see what sticks. Salespeople need to familiarize themselves with their customers’ demographic characteristics, geographical needs and behavioral patterns.

Eden says, “People today are beginning to go back to the shotgun approach, which is: If I try to hit enough people just by the sheer tonnage, I’m going to make sales. They’re not using their refining techniques.”

Refining techniques, however, don’t necessarily call for the implementation of a multimillion-dollar contact management system. Instead, Eden suggests using your existing customers as a source of key information. Ask them why it is they use your products services, what areas require improvement, and what would compel them to make larger and more frequent purchases.

Dare to Discriminate
No two prospects or clients are the same. That means customizing your selling approach in accordance with individual needs and demands.

According to Eden, “You need to understand the measurements of success and the pressure points of each of your clients – everybody’s are different.”

Leave time-strapped prospects brief and concise voice-mail messages. Arrange the occasional face-to-face meeting with customers who require additional handholding. If a customer spends an enormous amount of time on the road, send an email message to his or her home-office account.

Tweak Sparingly
Tough times call for experimentation, not a complete overhaul of time-tested selling techniques. If today’s slow economy has you questioning your tactics, try tweaking the odd approach.

Eden says, “People are afraid to test. When the economy is a little tenuous, people regroup and say: Well, this is the way I’ve always done it. I’ve got to do it this way.”

Instead, make changes sparingly and in a controlled environment. Spice up run-of-the-mill pitches and tone down promises that your product can perform miracles. Then wait and see if such modifications make a difference. Biting off more than you can chew by completely overhauling your pitching, prospecting and selling techniques might bring about positive results, but you’ll never know which modification brought about the most benefits.