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Even in a sluggish economy, there are always sales professionals who find ways to boost their incomes and career opportunities - without changing companies or territories. Aside from tuning out negative day-to-day chatter, these pros have one thing in common: An uncanny ability to stay one step ahead of their customers' needs.
"The average salesperson is too focused on his or her product or service," says Jill Konrath, a St. Paul-based sales trainer and author of the book "Selling to Big Companies." "But if you can change the conversation to more relevant issues, like how to help that customer increase revenue or decrease time to market, that will make a huge impression."
In addition to relevance, Konrath suggests three other steps that sales pros can follow to boost their bottom line.
Improve Market Knowledge
By scanning the competitive marketplace for clues on how clients or prospects can better position themselves for growth, sales pros can leverage that knowledge during regular contacts. "If salespeople aren't asking good questions that show insight and depth of knowledge on broader industry issues, they most likely won't grow business in those accounts," says Konrath.
On average, a salesperson will contact a prospect three to five times and then quit if nothing happens. But instead of just sales calls, Konrath says a more successful approach may include occasional communications to share articles on key issues facing the prospect's business, or links to conferences or events they may benefit from attending. Over time, this can build positive top-of-mind awareness.
Improve Sales Effectiveness
While a number of online sales and networking tools are readily available, Konrath says many sales pros don't take advantage of them. In addition to database and competitive intelligence tools such as Jigsaw, Sales Genius, and InsideView, Konrath says LinkedIn has become a great prospecting tool for the small-to-medium-size business market.
"I recently saw a study that said about two-thirds of fast-growing entrepreneurial companies have individual profiles on LinkedIn," she notes. "That's a lot of prospective contacts."