Tune in to Rural Lifestyle Dealer’s Dealer Success Academy for expanded comments from Ryan Dohrn, www.DealerSuccessAcademy. The summer issue of RLD will also launch a regular column from Dohrn. Watch for it and find new ways to improve your sales success.

Like you, I must make sales every day to keep my business successful. Twenty-eight years of selling, day in and day out, as well as coaching thousands of business owners worldwide, has helped me uncover 6 field-tested ways to increase sales success.

As we talk through the steps, be honest about how you or your sales team are currently implementing them. Regardless of whether we are early in our sales careers or long-timers, we must fine-tune and learn from each sales opportunity. Let’s get started on 6 ways to grow sales.

1. Customer retention is vital.

Studies show that it costs 5 times as much to attract a new customer as it does to keep one and a 5% increase in customer retention can increase a company’s profitability by 75%. What makes up your customer retention plan? How does that plan build in ways to keep customers satisfied, such as through notes, personalized offers and quick responses to their questions.

Don’t think that offering great customer service makes up a retention plan. Great customer service is expected. Customer retention is what you are doing beyond that.

2. Accountability is comforting.

Accountability is not micro-management. It’s helping form behaviors that increase sales because people know what you expect of them.

Here’s an example, selling equipment is a result of actions that someone is being held accountable for, such as goals regarding numbers of sales calls. Lay out your expectations and you’ll have a less stressful workplace that is set up to achieve results.

3. Time management increases effectiveness.

Establish a daily schedule for customer retention and sales prospecting activities. For example, I block out an hour at 10:30 a.m. for customer retention. That’s when I’m calling customers to ask about a recent purchase or following up with an offer.

At 11:30 a.m. and again at 4 p.m., I switch to sales prospecting. People don’t usually do much right before lunch or before they head home, so it’s a good time to reach them. I might follow up with an upsell opportunity or I’m checking in with customers who haven’t purchased recently.

At 3 p.m., I’m actively working sales that are in progress to ensure my customers have what they need to make a decision. And, at 5 p.m., I’m setting the next day’s schedule.

4. Upsells are critical and ethical.

Upsells can have the reputation of being slimy. They’re not slimy if you are helping someone. Offer products that are a natural fit to what a customer is already buying and you’ll add value.

Upselling has to be practiced, however. Work with your sales, service and parts departments and talk through seasonal upsells, for example. Or, have your team members share upsell ideas. Also, set up attractive displays of add-on items to encourage customers to consider them.

5. Create mini goals.

Reaching goals can be difficult. Eighty percent of the population never sets goals and of the remaining that do, only 30% attain them. Setting mini-goals can be the solution. For every goal, there are often at least 3 mini-goals.

Let’s go back to the topic of increasing upsells. Here are some mini-goals: Identify seasonal upsells. Practice upsells. Have an upsell discussion with 1 out of the next 5 customers you talk with.

6. If you live in the past, you miss out on the future.

We can learn from past experiences, but too often people miss out on new opportunities by staying focused on the past. Don’t be the person who says “We tried that” when someone brings up an idea. Maybe the timing or some other factor caused the idea to fail previously.

Encourage your team to come forward and volunteer ideas — and seek out team members for their suggestions. You may fail when you try new ideas, but you’re also testing out new ideas. The philosophy of failing often and failing forward can re-energize your dealership.