Updated May 29 at 10:29am

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ADVICE

Time to tip sales scale in your favor

'Making good decisions is the backbone of sales.'

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Every salesperson knows the job is tougher than ever. It’s not for the faint-hearted or those who feel the world owes them a living. At the same time, salespeople recognize the importance of having an extra edge, of standing out from the crowd.

Yet, even those with winning qualities can have other attributes that keep them from getting to the top. To help tip the sales scale, here are 17 ideas that can make a difference:

• Start exciting customers and stop trying to entice them. Excite them with your knowledge, helpful ideas and your willingness to be there after they sign the order.

• Make the customer experience interactive. Ask questions that engage the customer, that create a dialogue.

• Every sale involves a relationship. One salesperson couldn’t figure out why a prospect didn’t want to buy, until he said, “Frankly, I just don’t understand why we can’t seem to move forward.” It turned out that the customer was afraid the salesperson would disappear. “I like picking your brain,” he commented.

• Use the “big question” to build a relationship with prospects. “What would you like to accomplish that you haven’t already?” This is the question that opens the windows wide so you can understand what’s hidden away in customers’ minds.

• Be there at the right time. A printing sales executive locks the competition out with his electronic tickler system that tells him when jobs are coming up.

• Using “Big data” for better results. Intuit (QuickBooks, Quicken and Turbo Tax) has transactional, behavioral, user-generated data (from its products) and social data drawn from social networks and Twitter. And it’s easily accessible for large or small companies.

• Doubt yourself. Salespeople often take pride in their ability to “read” people and situations, relying on their “gut instincts” or intuition. But famed psychologist Dr. Daniel Kahneman says that can lead to what he calls “automatic thinking” that ignores relevant information, which can spell trouble in sales.

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