Be more profitable: 12 easy tricks

These easily implemented tweaks will help you cut sales costs while increasing revenue.

Bottom line getting you down? Don't despair: Here are 12 quick, easy, and absolutely foolproof sales tweaks that will are guaranteed to increase your profitability:

1. Hone your sales lead criteria. Confirm that you’re going after the right leads. Revisit how you score your sales leads and observe—based on your current experience—what's working and what's not. Make changes as necessary.

2. Enhance your sales technology. Revisit the online tools that you’re using to find leads and to research companies and individuals. Take more advantage of the free (and almost free) tools that run on smartphones and tablets.

3. Revisit your network. Friends and colleagues who previously didn’t know of any prospects may know of some now. You’ve also built up a customer base; enlist their aid in expanding your network and finding new customers.

4. Hone your sales messages. No sales message is perfect. Revisit your core sales message, your elevator pitch, your qualifying questions, and so forth. Make them better, shorter, and more effective.

5. Eliminating more bad leads. Save valuable sales time by realigning initial conversations with sales leads so that they're focused on quickly identifying whether a lead is unlikely to buy.

6. Improve your listening skills. When a potential customer is speaking, listen carefully to what’s actually being said, rather than waiting for something that will give you hope of making a sale.

7. Stop chasing garbage trucks. A real prospect must have the budget to buy and a need that massively justifies the spending. If those two elements aren't both present, you’ll never be a priority–so you'd best move on.

8. Reward yourself for disqualifying a lead. Remember, every lead you eliminate from your list is a victory–because it means you won’t be wasting your time. So celebrate the winnowing process.

9. Research the competition. Selling to a fully qualified lead (see items above) is always a matter of outselling the competition. Ask the prospect who else is calling on them, and adapt your approach to compensate.

10. Keep track of key players. The most frequent reason sales reps are outsold is that they didn’t talk to the right people—and the competitor did. Keep notes of who's who and what's expected of you–and when.

11. Improve your follow-through. If you make a commitment, log it in your schedule, and make sure that you do it, no matter what. Follow-through is the only way that a potential customer can learn to trust you.

12. Use discounts sparingly. Extraordinary discounts offered merely to secure a sale have two downsides: They make the current deal smaller, and if word gets out, they can result in more discounts (and smaller deals) from future customers.

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