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Better Conversations Will Produce a Better 2013

The most effective way to increase sales performance is to improve your sales conversations

After two decades in sales and as a sales executive, plus an additional three years of heavy research into sales performance development and growth, I have found the most effective way to truly improve and sustain sales performance is to improve sales conversations. The way to improve conversations is to improve the responses salespeople provide for any given question or situation.

The greatest assets any sales team has are the best responses they provide to current and potential clients. Collaborating as a team to improve responses and conversations should be the highest priority of sales teams for the coming year.

These 10 traits that will help improve sales teams’ conversations and push each team member to become a quota-busting salesperson.

  1. Demonstrate knowledge of products and services – A salesperson with a strong knowledge and understanding of the company’s products and/or services will be better prepared to answer questions and resolve concerns.
  2. Be passionate about the products or services – A potential client can easily discern if a salesperson is passionate about the service or product they are selling. Even with all the knowledge about a product, a salesperson can fall flat without passion.
  3. Practice what you’re going to say – There is only one true recipe for a salesperson to have a strong performance when selling to a potential client: practice, practice, practice.
  4. Learn from the team – While salespeople in a company tend to work alone or in small groups, they can benefit from the collaboration of the entire sales force. Sales teams should work together and learn how they can use their combined strengths and experiences to benefit each member of the team.
  5. Give feedback – A salesperson will help themselves and their whole team if they can learn to analyze what each teammate is doing, identify techniques that work and ones that need improvement, and then successfully communicate critiques and suggestions to each other.
  6. Receive feedback – It’s often easier to provide feedback to others than to receive it. But it’s a true strength when salespeople can be teachable and open to feedback and know how to apply it to improve their work.
  7. Be accountable – When salespeople learn to hold themselves accountable for their work and failures without constant follow-up, they will learn far quicker and be much more effective during their sales.
  8. Set Goals – Goals should be set by every salesperson and every sales team. Goals provide milestones for salespeople to shoot for and provide a measuring stick to gauge progress.
  9. Measure improvement – The only way for a salesperson or sales team to know if they’re making progress and increasing their skills is to measure the improvements. Measurements should include increased sales or closure rates, improved customer service, a demonstration of increased knowledge of the products and services, and improvements in skill and abilities.
  10. Gauge what works in real life – As salespeople and sales teams work together to build these traits, they must also be aware of what works best in the real world as opposed to what only works in training and role playing. Understanding how clients feel and act is crucial to implementing the above traits in a way that will best benefit the client and promote the sale.

Chris Bijou is the CEO of iDealResponse, a verbal coaching management system that helps trainers bridge the gap between what people know (content) and what they say (delivery).