5 Tips to Boost Your Sales Career

There are five easy ways to boost your sales career, and Chip Eichelberger wants you to know how to put them into use.

1. Ask “What can I do better?”

When was the last time you asked a client what you could do to improve his experience with you? Years? Months? Never? If you want to improve your sales skills, your clients and prospects will have the most valuable insight into how you can become better. Make it a regular priority to ask them for their suggestions on how to improve and add more value.

Asking “What can I do better?” is an excellent way to improve your performance, but asking is only the first step. The key is to listen when someone offers a suggestion. When a client starts talking, don’t try to defend yourself or justify your actions. Just listen to what he has to say. Take your clients’ suggestions seriously and follow up with the person later to ensure you make progress.

2. Set a clear goal for each day

What activities drive performance for your business? Is it number of contacts? Referrals? Phone calls? Appointments? Determine this factor and set a measurable goal for doing a certain number of these activities each day. Many sales professionals think in terms of a sales funnel, and they need to keep a specific number of people in that funnel at all times to remain successful. How many new prospects do you need to contact to keep your funnel full?

As you do this, don’t forget about past clients. Many sales professionals become so focused on acquisition that they forget about retention. Past clients are easier to sell because they already know you and the service you provide. But your competition is constantly trying to take your past clients away, and they may succeed if you lose contact and show indifference. Keep in touch with past clients in a way that is simple and adds value. So, how many past clients are you going to call today?

3. Keep track of your progress

A good way to track your progress and ensure continuous improvement is to keep track of what you do. Create a scorecard to record your key performance numbers for each day – number of appointments, sales, referrals. For example, if you want to make 10 cold calls each day, keep a record of the calls you make, as well as the number of days you achieve your cold-calling goal. Repeat this procedure for each goal or activity and post it where you can easily see it. You can’t manage what you can’t measure, and the quickest way to lose momentum is to stop tracking your results.

4. Tell an effective story

Everyone has a success story, and you may notice that businesses and products often use their story as a marketing tool. Whatever your story is, it must be unique, solve the customer’s problem and be compelling. Real estate agents, for example, may take pictures of their clients in front of their new homes and then show these photos to their prospects. Even a bottle of wine or a consumer product can tell a story to differentiate it on the shelf. Consider how you can document your success with quotes, testimonials, case studies and pictures. Then creatively use your story to attract new business.

5. Record yourself

No one likes to admit he isn’t good at what he does. Even if a person fails, he won’t likely admit that individual performance was to blame. But people are often mediocre or bad at sales and they don’t even realize it.

Have you ever recorded yourself while you’re meeting with a client or prospect? Most people haven’t. However, recording yourself is an excellent way to identify your strengths and weaknesses.

How do you record a sales presentation? Explain to your client or prospect that you are consistently trying to improve the way you tell your story and your listening skills. Then ask if you can record the meeting for personal use. Most of the time, the prospect won’t have any objections and he’ll admire your professionalism. If you are speaking to a group, ask to use a video camera.

Once you have the recording, the moment of truth arrives. On your first review, take notes on all the good things you do and write down all the questions you ask. Then go back, ideally with a more experienced peer, and review what you need to improve. The danger is the more you know, the more you tend to talk. You’ll often find that you need to ask more questions and talk less.

Chip Eichelberger is an author, peak performance strategist and speaker. He co-authored “10 Secrets of Marketing Success” and wrote “It Just Might Be You!” It will be published in spring 2006. His clients include Marriott, Tommy Hilfiger, State Farm, Century 21 and Bank of America. He has more than 20 years of experience in sales and marketing. For more information on his speaking engagements and books, visit