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HOW TO SELL ANYTHING

8 Easy Ways to Increase Sales

Selling more doesn't mean selling harder. It means selling smarter. Here's how.
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Every company wants to increase sales. Unfortunately, many people wrongly believe that selling more always entails working longer hours. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Here are eight easy (and relatively painless) ways to increase sales:

1. Think about your product as a verb.

Suppose your company makes glue. If you think that you sell glue (a noun), you'll talk about features and functions. If you think you sell gluing (a verb), you'll talk about the role your product plays in your customers' business. You'll sell more as a result.

2. Only pursue prequalified leads.

Contacting more potential customers usually doesn't create proportionately more sales, because you spend time with people who aren't likely to buy. Instead, use online research to prioritize opportunities on the basis of who's bought in the past.

3. Never waste a customer's time (or your own).

Decide from the start that you're absolutely not going to sell anything that the customer doesn't really need. Rather than doggedly trying to sell, find out quickly if there's a match. If not, terminate the conversation and move on.

4. Listen more than you talk.

When speaking with a customer, don't give a pitch about what your product can do. Instead, have a conversation about what the customer needs. Ask intelligent questions so that the two of you can discover when and how (and if) you can work together.

5. Cut your paperwork.

If you spend more time selling (especially to qualified leads), you'll make more sales. That's why it's very smart to figure out ways to spend less time doing paperwork--so that you can spend more time actually working with customers.

6. Reduce your "sales reaction" time.

The shorter your sales cycle, the more you can sell during any given period of time. While customers buy at their own pace, make certain that every ball that ends up in your court gets handled immediately (or sooner).

7. Increase your average order size.

Remember, it's easier to make a single million-dollar deal than to make 10 deals for $100,000 each. Remain aware of situations in which additional products can be appropriately added to the deal. You're doing a favor for your customers, because you're saving them time.

8. Keep your pipeline primed.

When you've got plenty of customers, it's easy to stop developing future opportunities. However, if you don't lay the groundwork, you could end up spinning your wheels next quarter. Spend one hour a day on upfront work. You'll be glad you did.

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IMAGE: Getty
Last updated: Jul 16, 2012

GEOFFREY JAMES

Geoffrey James, a contributing editor for Inc.com, is an author, speaker, and award-winning blogger. Originally a system architect, brand manager, and industry analyst inside two Fortune 100 companies, he's interviewed more than a thousand successful executives, managers, entrepreneurs, and gurus to discover how business really works. His most recent book is Business Without the Bullsh*t: 49 Secrets and Shortcuts You Need to Know. If you enjoyed this post, sign up for the free weekly Sales Source newsletter.




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