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For any business, the true mark of success lies in their sales. The amount of sales they are able to make per year can mean the difference between bankruptcy and rapid and sustainable growth. A company’s sales are largely influenced by the salespeople they have, who are directly influenced by the sales leadership. Moreover, salespeople are also responsible for studying, crafting, and directing sales strategies.

Keep in mind that sales are not only made by the sales team—the sales strategy makes a direct impact on the number of sales a business experiences. It takes between six and nine months—or more—for businesses to establish practices for selling that show real results. Continuous improvement and testing is critical. Each company has their own method or technique that works to their benefit. The following are the four best practices for selling that businesses have used to increase their sales. Surprisingly, none of them have to do with selling—it is all centered on solutions and servicing the customer and becoming centered on their needs. To be the best sales leader, become customer-centric and get to know your true customer – all of their questions, the right person, and stay motivated.

Prepare for All Types of Questions and Circumstances

Salespeople should be prepared for any question the customer might throw at them. A skilled salesperson is a conversationalist who is so well-versed about the product that they can answer almost any question the client may have about it. Moreover, they go above and beyond their duty in trying to ensure that the customers are comfortable and happy with the products they’re getting from them.

In 2007, an ice storm turned the Eastern Seaboard’s airports into igloos during Valentine’s Day. JetBlue was left with no choice but to cancel around 1,000 flights, leading to hundreds of stranded customers venting their rage online. Rather than blaming Mother Nature, JetBlue CEO David Neeleman apologized publicly for the inconvenience and introduced a customer’s bill of rights, along with a monetary compensation. That year, JetBlue won first place in J.D. Power North America Airline Satisfaction Study for low-cost air carriers.

Work On Self-Motivation

The best sales happen when a person is self-motivated to continue working towards targets that they have set for themselves. These don’t always have to align with the targets that the company has set out for them. Moreover, these can often be higher and loftier than the targets set out for them. A self-motivated person is also more invested in the company and is more productive than your average employee.

The Navy Seals is an excellent example of self-motivation on steroids. They are driven by an internal desire to succeed and “never quit.” Navy Seal Tom Shea, in his book, Unbreakable: A Navy Seal’s Way of Life talks about going beyond quitting and facing your internal fears. He explains how important it is to taste, feel, and experience what failure may be like as a motivator.  He asks the question, “What would your life be like if you never quit? You would be unbreakable.” His final lesson is: “Never quit on yourself.”

Deal with Decision-Makers

When trying to make a sale, a salesperson will always connect with the decision-makers and do their best to convince them that they must work with them. Even if they deal with a secondary person, they have enough charisma to convert them to their side and gain an ally who convinces the decision-maker as well. When it comes to making sales, this is one trick that only seasoned professionals really know about.

According to a salesperson in the financial sector, the biggest challenge, however, is managing expectations, while still educating newcomers about the steps that they will need to take in the future. While there is sense of haste to get the maximum gains, you cannot promise large returns if the person on the other side is not ready to take risk. The thing about risk is… well, it’s risky. So, how does one counter that? You sell a solution, not a service.

Always Follow Up

A good sales team will always run a follow-up procedure to ensure that their customers are happy with the product or service. Following up can often lead to more sales when the customer is satisfied. Moreover, it’s not always the after-care that needs follow-up. Sometimes, an initial call made by the customer can also get cut off or lost midway. Salespeople who have followed up on those missed calls have also ended up making more sales.

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In business, a PR crisis is always a bad review, YouTube video, or ice storm away. The key is to be quick-to-respond. Not too long ago, Apple withdrew its iOS 8.0.1. The company did it within an hour of its release. While the problem was of connectivity and performance issues, which even caused loss of service, Apple’s response was anything but slow and thick. Apple apologized, offered its users a convenient workaround, and set to work on the iOS 8.0.2. As a result, customers weren’t given the time to post those bad reviews and YouTube videos we just mentioned, and the company went on to increase its sales and gain the trust of their customers.

Ending Note

Buying behavior has changed forever. Customers are educating themselves via the Internet and social media – and your sales process needs to change as well. The four best sales leadership practices above are practiced by various different companies, ranging from small businesses to global businesses. Moreover, used in conjunction with a strong marketing strategy, these are some of the most successful sales strategies.

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