Regardless of how productive or profitable 2012 was for you, I suspect that you want to achieve even better results in the upcoming year. Here are 6 strategies you can apply to attain that objective.

1. Increase your prospecting time

Let’s face; very few people actually enjoy prospecting. After all, it isn’t the most enjoyable aspect of selling for most people. However, prospecting is the lifeline of anyone in sales. If you are not constantly filling your pipeline, you will eventually run out of business opportunities and go hungry.

Unfortunately, many sales people don’t prospect as consistently as they should.
They work hard when their pipeline begins to dry up, and after a while, they start generating a flow of new sales opportunities. With the new flow of business, they get complacent and stop prospecting. Eventually, their sales opportunities dry up again and they repeat the process again.

This approach creates wild shifts in your results from great highs and excellent revenues to low points and limited income.

The fastest and most consistent way to improve your results is to schedule prospecting activities into your calendar every day, week and month.

2. Ask tougher questions

Most sales people ask basic fundamental questions that focus on the product or possible sales opportunities. However, you can improve your sales by learning to ask tough, more penetrating questions.

These include questions about the extent of a prospect’s situation or problem, the implications of that problem, and what they are doing to solve that issue.
They also include questions about the decision making and approval process, budgeting, potential barriers or roadblocks, and the corporate hierarchy for complex sales.

3. Adapt your presentation

Far too many sales people give a generic, well-rehearsed sales pitch when presenting their solution. Although this approach may work, it is not an effective way to increase your sales.

You can close more deals by modifying your sales presentation so that it accurately addresses your prospect’s situation. The more clearly your prospect can see how they will benefit from your solution, the greater the likelihood they will move forward with the decision.

An effective way to achieve this is to state your understanding of their situation before you start your pitch. Then, once you begin your presentation, refer each key point of your solution back to the items that are important to your prospect.

Don’t assume that your prospect connects the dots between your solution and their problem. Point it out to them.

4. Ask for the business

Sounds simple, doesn’t it?

Having worked with sales people for the last 17 years, I have found that many people fail to ask prospects and customers to make a buying decision. They will say things like, “Let me know if you have any questions” or “What do you think?’ but they don’t actually come right out and ask, “Would you like to go ahead with this? or “Can we do business?”

Don’t wait for your prospects to say yes.

Be proactive and take the initiative to ask for their business. Resist the temptation to believe that your prospect will think you are pushy or rude—they won’t.

5. Become a master at follow-up

Many a sale has been lost because the sales person failed to follow-up or follow through. Prospect’s are extremely busy and they can easily forget to move forward with a deal simply because something else occupied their time.

We all know of situations where someone pursued a deal long after it appeared dead only to close it many months later.

6. Ask for more referrals

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t enjoy getting a referral. However, very few sales people assertively ask for referrals.

They claim they don’t know how or that they don’t want to appear like they’re begging for business. However, when done properly—and consistently—referrals can be a lucrative form of new business leads.

Your best customers will be willing to refer people to you so develop the ability to ask existing customers for people they think could benefit from your product, service or solution.

Make 2013 your best year ever by incorporating these strategies into your routine.