8 Sales Tips to Start the New Year Off Right

Help your business break new ground in the coming year with these sales tips from the pros.
women shopping for jewelry
Whether you’re peddling products or offering valuable services, being an effective salesperson is an art that requires practice and dedication. (Photo: iofoto/Shutterstock)

The new year has arrived and people everywhere are finding ways to turn over a new leaf. While you may have personal goals to cut back on soda intake, learn a new language or hit the gym more often, what New Year’s resolutions have you made to help your small business be more successful in the coming months?

Whether you’re peddling products or offering valuable services, being an effective salesperson is an art that requires practice and dedication. Follow these eight tips from sales and marketing experts to pave the way for more profits in the new year.

Learn how to prospect

“Prospecting doesn’t necessarily need to be cold calling. Your prospecting activities could be networking. It could be cold emailing. It could be a number of different things. Figure out where your ideal clients are hanging out and get in front of them.”

— Ali Mirza, president of Atlanta-based sales training consultancy Rose Garden Consulting

Related: Why Every Business Owner is in Sales Whether They Know it or Not

Don’t judge a book by its cover

“We all make snap judgments and assumptions about who we think other people are based on their appearance, mannerisms, clothing choices and/or body language. The truth is, none of these factors reveal who they truly are or what they might bring to a business relationship. They might be our next best customer or referral source.”

— Barbara Katz, interpersonal communication specialist and co-­founder of business networking firm ConnectInc

Related: 5 Tips On How to Build Rapport With Anyone

employee helping customer

To understand specific customers’ needs, avoid yes or no questions. Ask what, where, when, why and what else to better understand the problem they are trying to solve.
(Photo: Odua Images/Shutterstock)

Take time to build a connection

“Many people want to feel a connection and bonding with who they do business with, yet often times due to volume we want to deal with the transaction and get on to the next thing. The most successful salespeople take just a minute to connect with their customer. That connection, beyond the transaction, brings customers back and builds a relationship between the customer and the business. It’s magic!”

— Mark McGraw, CEO and president of Sandler Training Atlanta

Related: The Friend Zone: Boosting Sales by Focusing on Relationships

Dig deeper

“Acquaint your staff with products and items that complement each other, based on your customers’ potential needs, such as convenience. To understand specific customers’ needs, have associates practice asking what, where, when, why and what else. They should avoid yes or no questions, and listen to understand purchase purposes.”

— Yvon Nguyen, chief executive officer at Vant4ge, a marketing and business consultancy

Related: Think You Know Your Customers? Do Some Customer Research to Make Sure

Leverage humor

“When customers feel happy, they’re more likely to buy. Gently and briefly kid around with the customer. Humor usually relaxes tensions and lifts spirits, both of which enhance the shopper’s desire to give you business.”

Bruce Sanders, consumer psychologist and author of “Retailer’s Edge: Boost Profits Using Shopper Psychology

Related: How Using Humor Can Boost Sales in Your Store

laughing waitress

When customers are happy, they’re more likely to spend money at your business, so don’t be afraid to lighten the mood with a little humor. (Photo: CREATISTA/Shutterstock)

Perfect the upsell

“Most customers aren’t cheap, they’ve simply adopted a mindset that most products are of comparable quality. Upselling is where you take someone from a basic model to one with more features. Anyone can be upsold. The key is in first making a connection with the shopper so your suggestions are focused on what they get out of it, [rather than] trying to sell them something they think is useless.”

— Bob Phibbs, CEO of New York-based sales consultancy The Retail Doctor

Related: 5 Simple Steps to Successful Upselling

Create a memorable experience

“The experience offered by retailers should be one that is both impactful and memorable. As a merchant, ask yourself how you are offering an experience to your customers that makes them want to shop with you again and again and again — because what you offer is something they want to experience again and again and again.”

— Nicole Reyhle, founder of Retail Minded and author of “Retail 101: The Guide to Managing and Marketing Your Retail Business

Related: Customer Service: To Make it Memorable, Make it Surprising

Be genuine

“Ultimately, people want to do business with people that they like and trust. The more that you can approach people in a way that it’s a pleasure to do business with you and that the [sales] relationship can be something that people look forward to, the better off your organization is going to be.”

David Meerman Scott, sales and marketing strategist and author of “The New Rules of Marketing & PR

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