Profit margin – the percentage of total earnings your company takes after paying all its expenses – is one of the best indicators of business success. So, it’s a metric you should not only track but also work steadfastly to improve.
It takes skill to chisel out more impressive margins. Therefore, regular in-person or online sales training is a top priority for getting ahead. According to Rain Group, companies that invest in training realize 15.2% more closed deals and profit margins shoot up by 12.2%. Here are 10 of the best skills that can benefit the vigorous pursuit of greater profits.
Effective prospecting ensures that you never run out of potential customers. However, keeping the pipeline well supplied can be tough sledding. For one, potential buyers are busier and more distracted than ever. Chasing leads that may never pan out means that there’s less time to follow up on more solid leads. So, it pays to be strategic about which opportunities you chase.
Strategic prospecting helps identify and prioritize high-quality leads that best fit your ideal customer profile. Stacking your pipeline with premium prospects increases conversion and closing rates. You also get the added benefit of a shorter sales cycle, which means more time to generate additional leads.
Social selling is the use of social platforms to find and engage with new prospects and existing customers. To earn higher margins, you need to create more opportunities. Your best bet for finding more of those opportunities is to hang out where your customers are and speak their language. Today, most companies will find their customers on social media.
Companies with consistent social selling processes are 40% more likely to hit revenue goals, according to OptinMonster. Also, data from LinkedIn Sales Solutions shows that 78% of businesses that use social selling outsell those that don’t.
Knowing how to keep a customer happy can make or break your bottom line. According to global management consulting firm McKinsey, improving customer satisfaction can increase revenue by as much as 20%. One way to improve customer satisfaction is with product knowledge. A better understanding of the product or service you’re offering also makes for a more impactful pitch.
With more and more customers doing their own online research, product knowledge needs to cover more than just features. To convincingly win over buyers, sales trainers say you need to understand the ROI to the customer and how to customize the product or services to the customer’s situation. Knowing how a product or service integrates with other items is also a great value-add.
The more customers you can keep, the more likely you are to earn higher profit margins. According to Bain & Company, high customer retention rates can increase profits by up to 95%. To keep customers from jumping ship, you need to know how to build solid relationships. Research shows that the average business loses 20% (and some can lose up to 80%) of its customers because they fail to cultivate and nurture relationships.
Salespeople are constantly up against changing markets, shifting customer demands, and cutthroat competitors. Maximizing profit in this volatile landscape requires weaving business acumen into the selling process. Business acumen helps you understand what drives profitability and growth. That knowledge can help sellers quickly assess risks and opportunities and sell smarter.
Paying attention to business news is one way to build business acumen. Another impactful option is reading industry-related material like books, overviews, case materials, and financial analyses. You can also pick up business insights by paying attention to what your customers are saying to (and about) your company.
Upselling and cross-selling
Upselling is the practice of persuading a customer to go with a higher-priced product or service. Cross-selling involves selling complementary products or services in addition to the original purchase. Both techniques can increase average order values (AOV).
Higher AOV means you’re making more money from each deal, thereby making your brand more profitable. Also, sales trainers say that knowing how to upsell and cross-sell in-person and online can increase customer lifetime value (CLV). Achieving a high CLV can supercharge profit growth.
Most purchase decisions are emotional, which is why salespeople need storytelling skills. When told well, stories have the power to inspire, motivate, and create an emotional connection with customers. One of the main benefits of building a solid bond between buyers and sellers is better engagement. According to Gallup, fully engaged customers represent a 23% higher share in profitability.
A sales rep could be great at generating new leads and managing the buyer’s journey yet still get pushback when it’s time to sign the contract. While offering concessions can help with challenging purchases, many are notorious margin killers. If you know how to negotiate, you can use smart tradeoffs that not only save the deal but also protect or increase your profit margins.
Studies show that only 2% of deals are closed in first meetings. What’s more, 80% of purchases require five follow-up calls, according to The Brevet Group. Yet, 44% of sales reps only check back in once before giving up. By the fourth round, 94% of salespeople have thrown in the towel.
It’s impossible to grow your bottom line if deals keep slipping through your fingers. Hence the need for effective follow-up. Follow-up can be challenging because if not handled carefully, you risk coming off as pushy. In sales training, you can learn how often to reach out to strike the right balance. You can also learn where to communicate in person or online to improve your chances of success.
Consistent revenue growth requires effective sales execution, which calls for a high level of discipline. Discipline is what helps reps stick to a set of structured, repeatable steps. Research by Vantage Point Performance and the Sales Management Association found almost an 18% difference in revenue growth where companies followed a structured process.
Emotional intelligence (EQ) is the ability to identify what a customer might be feeling to be able to respond accordingly. A salesperson with high EQ is more in tune with their customers’ needs, which can give salespeople a competitive edge. A study by The Hay Group found that salespeople with high EQ produced twice the revenue of those with average or below-average scores. While some people seem to have a knack for understanding how others feel, with training, it’s possible to develop or strengthen this skill.
At the root of 70% of people’s purchasing decisions is the desire to solve a problem, reports HubSpot. However, a study by SiriusDecisions found that 71% of salespeople fail to connect their solutions to clients’ business needs. Therefore, effectively training reps on how to solve problems can mean more reliable and consistent revenue streams.
Sales is a cutthroat industry. However, a well-trained team can generate new opportunities, which can lead to huge returns. So, you always want to be on the lookout for ways to build your team’s abilities. Working on the skills in this list can be a great jumping-off point.