5 Ways to Help Improve Your Sales Credit: Salesman Image via Shutterstock

Finding new way meet your sales goals can be a challenge, especially in a tough economy.

David Mattson, CEO of Sandler Training one of the world's largest sales training firms, offers the following tips for businesses to improve their struggling sales.

Focus on what can be controlled

Looking at the big picture can be overwhelming. Break down bigger goals into manageable chunks. Decide to accomplish specific things: each day make five phone calls, find two new business prospects and make one new appointment. Create a prospecting plan, outlining how you'll generate new leads.

Making sales is a lot like dieting. You may be overwhelmed when you think of the 50 pounds you need to lose, but when you break it down into realistic daily goals — run two miles and skip dessert today — you'll lose a pound or two each week. Over time, you'll reach your bigger weight loss goal. Small, manageable tasks really do add up, allowing you to eventually reach that bigger goal.

Create a reverse sales funnel

Many successful sales professionals work backwards to reach their goals. The goal to generate a certain amount of revenue might mean you need to close 10 deals. To accomplish that, you may need to make 15 presentations.  To get in front of those 15 prospects, you might need to make 60 follow-up calls, which would depend on first making 90 initial calls. Don't focus on the revenue you need to win. Focus on the daily steps that will get you to that goal. Instead of panicking about the 10 sales that you need to make, think about how you'll make those 90 phone calls necessary to jump-start the process.

Make it a we approach vs. a you approach

The popular saying is true: there is no 'I' in team. If the sales manager makes it clear that the team is in this together, it makes a huge difference in the sales team's morale, motivation and overall attitude. When a sales rep believes that success and failure lies with them alone, it adds a lot of unnecessary pressure.

Hold a contest

Sales teams are notoriously competitive. Holding a contest can be an effective way to drive healthy competition and, ultimately, increase sales. It's been proven that people are motivated by both money and recognition, so create cash incentives or develop a strategy to recognize and publicly applaud top sellers. This approach is a great way to motivate people who aren't hitting their numbers and also inspire top sellers, encouraging them to close even more deals.

Have an action plan

If your sales team is a million dollars behind goal, it doesn't do much good to belabor the point.  They realize they're not meeting their numbers, and they're worried about how far behind they are. When your sales team is struggling to hit their numbers, it's ineffective for a sales manager to tell them to work harder to reach their goal. Pushing them to reach their numbers puts increased pressure on the sales team, when they're likely already trying their best.

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