Q: My New Year’s resolution is to increase sales by 25% this year. I have some hot prospects and good ideas and feel pretty confident that I can reach this goal. What ideas might you have that can help me get to where I want to go?

Cornell A., Boca Raton, FL

A: First of all, a trap that many small businesspeople fall into is that we spend so much time working in our business that we fail to work on our business. This time of year is a great time to stand back and think strategically. Setting a sales goal is certainly part of that.

When it comes to sales, I like to take my cues from Tom Hopkins. Aside from the fact that he is an author of a dozen books, including the mega best-seller “How to Master the Art of Selling” what I like about Hopkins is that he freely admits that he
had to learn how to become a great salesman. That bodes well for the rest of us.

One thing Hopkins stresses that I really like is that selling is not a matter of pressuring or cajoling someone into buying something they don’t need. But rather it is a two-way communications process whereby you discover whether your product or service meets the needs of a potential customer. Great selling then is not manipulation, it is being in service to potential customers.

In a recent interview in Home Business Magazine, Hopkins says that he learned this early in his career. After floundering in the real estate business Hopkins attended a real estate seminar. It was there that he realized that selling is an art that anyone can learn. He thereafter set about learning it. After studying everything he could about selling success, Hopkins’ sales volume jumped in five years from $42 a month to $14 million a year.

So yes, Tom Hopkins knows something about selling. He says that the most important skill you can have if you want to increase sales is – communication – the ability to ask the right questions, listen to the answers, listen for hidden meaning, and watch nuanced body language.

In fact, he says, if you would like to radically increase your sales, all you need to do is sit down for a half an hour and figure out what you need to learn from prospects regarding their needs and whether your product or service meets those needs. What are their needs, actually? What sort of product or service would fill those needs? What other questions would you have to ask in what order to find out if you can help a prospect? Hopkins says, “If [this brainstorming is] done properly, you could very easily double your sales in a very short period.”

What other tidbits does the master salesman have for increasing sales?

  • “The foundation of all selling is that you must get people to like you, trust you, and want to listen to you. You must smile. Give them a sincere compliment.”
  • What do you think the most overlooked method for finding new business is? “Prospecting within your own client base.”
  • The best way to generate repeat business is, after doing a great job, “having an effective follow-up program . . . The key is to stay in touch with your attitude of servitude.”
  • Remember that sales is a numbers game.

Hopkins states that the most important thing he realized is that sales generally is a game, and as with any game, you should not take it too seriously, but rather, have fun. “I still have fun with [it] today,” he says.

Today’s tip:
To learn more about Tom Hopkins and how his sales strategies can effect your bottom-line, visit TomHopkins.com.

How Can I Increase My Sales?

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