Are your sales numbers flat this year? Are you struggling to hit your sales quotas? Do you need something extra to motivate the team to meet aggressive goals?
If so, you’re not alone. Let’s face it: Selling a product is hard. The process is filled with stumbling blocks from the beginning — you might have reached a prospect at the right time, only to have their priorities, budget, or internal decision-making process prevent you from advancing a deal. Or you could have come at the wrong time, keeping you from starting a fruitful conversation in the first place.
This is true even for inbound sales. Even after a lead willingly reaches out to your sales team, there's no guarantee they’ll connect with you or choose you over the competition.
So, naturally, it’s difficult to hit quotas. But with some expert advice, you’ll be well on your way to crushing your sales goals.
To help you get there, I asked a few sales experts about their favorite techniques for increasing sales — and threw in a few tips of my own.
How to Increase Sales
1. Remember that your mission is to help.
"Define a mission, and get everyone motivated to help more people." - Dan Tyre, Sales Director, HubSpot
Let's face it — sales is repetitive. It's easy to fall into a rut and simply go through the motions of pitching a product. Sometimes, you need an extra push to keep you engaged and on your toes. It can help to regularly remind yourself and your team of the company mission, who you serve, and why your customers benefit from your product or service.
It's also smart to speak about the consequences for your reps and the business if they don't move deals forward. This can give your team some extra motivation and urgency to meet or exceed their quota.
People don't always need a promotion or discount. What they need is a reminder of the value of making a decision — the pain you will alleviate and the benefits they'll see.
Coming up with three bullet points that redefine your business' value — from the customer’s perspective — can put people back into the right mindset of helping, not selling.
2. Align sales with marketing.
"Practice smarketing — it’ll make all the difference." - Jen Spencer, Chief Revenue Officer, Smartbug Media
Spencer recommends marketers track their traffic and corresponding conversions. This allows them to see where they might be experiencing a dip in their inbound volume.
She explains, "If sales leadership has this data, they can expand upon it with deal-related data. Looking at the numbers like this, it should be clear where marketing and sales need to increase their activity volume to ensure goals are met."
Spencer believes it's both marketing and sales leadership's job to help ensure reps have more opportunities to pursue during quieter months.
3. Set up clients for success now.
"Remember that 'time of purchase' doesn't mean 'time of impact.'" - Michelle Benfer, Vice President of Sales, HubSpot
How long does it take for your customers to extract value from your product? One day? One month? One quarter? Michelle Benfer, HubSpot’s Vice President of Sales, recommends reps use the summer months to sell to "time of impact" rather than "time of purchase."
Benfer explains, "Loads of businesses have their busy season at back-to-school time, fall, or pre-holiday season. Set them up for success now to ensure they get the most from your partnership when they need that impact or value."
4. Practice, practice, practice.
"Use summer to get more exposure to customers and practice your pitch." - Michelle Benfer, Vice President of Sales, HubSpot
Benfer advises, "Salespeople should constantly hone, improve, and iterate on their craft. And summer is a great time to simply practice getting better."
Could you start your meetings with a tighter agenda? Do you sync calendars for next steps on the end of each call? Are you following up with your prospects with value-add content that matters to them?
Could you get better email open and response rates by sending a more bespoke, personalized message? Get more practice, test out different strategies, and improve your craft. You might learn and improve something.
5. Keep track of KPIs.
"Know your stats." - Michelle Benfer, Vice President of Sales, HubSpot
This one's pretty straightforward. You need to know your stats and keep track of KPIs. Analyze your personal performance and commit to improving one KPI over eight weeks.
Could you improve your deal size? Number of deals closed? Depth of touches on your leads? How about shortening your sales cycle length? Benfer says, "Know your stats, own 'em, love 'em, improve 'em."
6. Be empathetic.
“Practice empathy — it’ll help you sell the product better." - Michelle Benfer, Vice President of Sales, HubSpot
For some people, sales can be Groundhog Day. For others, every deal is a fresh opportunity to help a business or person solve a challenging problem.
Benfer recommends, "Practice empathy. Practice being in your buyers' shoes. Improve your business acumen and better assist your clients in achieving their goals. And don't forget to smile. Your prospects can feel it."
7. Try team selling.
"Team selling will help you increase your closing percentage." - Dan Tyre, Sales Director, HubSpot
When our team gets in a rut, we shake things up by trying something innovative, like pairing people up.
There are many great variations to this technique. Have two reps work together on one deal, or connect a senior person with a junior person. You can even split the team into pairs for a contest. Or have someone listen to another rep's calls to give effective feedback.
Team selling makes sales fun, instructional, and different. Plus, customers typically like the extra attention.
8. Promote the onboarding process.
"Run a solid promotion that gives great value to the onboarding process." - Dan Tyre, Sales Director, HubSpot
Instead of offering a discount on your product, offer more value from the purchase. Customers like additional attention, help, and support after they've made the purchasing commitment.
Offering a 90-day check-in or providing labor to run a campaign that saves the client time and effort can really move the dial. And don’t forget to mention it during the initial conversations, too, when a prospect may be considering a competitor’s products.
If you reassure the prospect that they won’t be left to figure out the product on their own, they may choose to go with you for that very reason.
9. Ask for referrals.
"This is so important but so easy to skip over. Call current customers and ask for referrals." - Dan Tyre, Sales Director, HubSpot
When was the last time you got a call from a vendor who thanked you for your business? Never? Exactly. Wouldn't you be impressed if you got a call? Here's what that might look like:
Ms. Prater, this is Dan from HubSpot. I am calling you to thank you for being a great customer. Over the last few months, you've seen some solid growth. I'm calling to thank you for your business, give you my cell phone number, and let you know that if you ever have a question, you can call me directly. We hope to be a great partner for years to come. By the way, do you know anyone else who might be a good fit for our product or services?
10. Sell yourself, not just your product.
“You’re a product in the same way the item you sell is a product. So sell it, and sell it well.” - Michelle Benfer, Vice President of Sales, HubSpot
Customers are looking for a connection — someone with their best interest in mind. If you do your job right, that's how they'll see you. But they won’t know you care like that until you position yourself that way.
Benfer says, “To the prospect, you’re a product. The question is, are you a product that solves a problem? Or a product that takes more than it gives or breaks down just so they need to upgrade?”
Don’t entertain a customer without enthusiasm or upsell for no other reason than to meet your quota. Create a deep connection, seek to help them, and prove that you're an ally who’ll be there for anything they need.
Sell More by Doing Less
Don't let stale selling techniques sour your quarter or year. Infuse new life into your sales process by regularly trying out new techniques like the ones above. In doing so, you’ll grow in your role, nurture a strong sales team, improve close rates, and foster lasting connections with customers who’ll keep coming back to you.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in October 2016 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.
Originally published Apr 13, 2021 1:30:00 PM, updated April 13 2021