When you work in sales and it is a major part of your career, you should be very serious about prospecting. It really does not matter how long you have been in the industry or in your career, the prospecting process should not stop.
Here are some rules to help you understand this important priority:
- If you have been in your career for some time and you have an established market share, then you should be prospecting for 2 or 3 hours per day. Half of that time should be devoted to existing contacts whilst the other half should be devoted to new contacts. Do not overlook the requirement to find new people to talk to.
- If you are new to your career and have few contacts of any type, then your prospecting time should take up at least half of your day and in that case over 4 hours. The research required to make that work should occur outside of those hours. Use your prospecting time to make calls and meet new people.
- Make at least 40 to 50 outbound calls per day. You will need a tracking system and database to help you there. Monitor your calls to meeting conversions. Also track your meeting to new business conversions.
- The way to get your ‘head’ into the process of productive prospecting is to understand that you are a ‘specialist’ in your field and that you are calling to see if the person has a need or an interest.
- Understand the best segments of your market and the best clients to keep in contact with. Maximise your efforts in the productive areas and segments of your market.
- If you are new to prospecting, you may require a script to help you get started. After 3 or 4 weeks the process becomes more natural and you will not need scripts to keep you on track and professional in your call connection.
To make all of this work, you will need a good time management process that allows you to do the right things at the right time. Prospecting and cold calling should become a regular daily event in your diary. It has to become a habit.
In selling or marketing anything you really do need a strategic marketing plan to help you stay on track. A plan of this nature is set for a period of time and usually that is 3 years to 5 years. It is a critical part of business growth for any new business or for individuals as they strive to establish market presence.
A plan of this nature can be incorporated into your personal business plan. The actions that you take should be matched to the marketing plan. Be prepared to make adjustments where necessary when the market or your client base changes. A process of tracking and measuring is quite important.
Here are some tips to help you with the establishment of a marketing plan to grow your business in a competitive market:
- Given that the plan is for a lengthy period of time, the prevailing market and the business conditions will change over that time. For that reason you need to be prepared for a reassessment and or repositioning of the marketing plan as required.
- Understand your position in the market today when it comes to market share, product or service offering, and specialisation.
- Given the previous point, your competitors will also have a ranking to be watched and tracked. Understand how your competitors attract market share and check out their policies regards pricing, and supply. If discounting is evident in your industry then you will need to determine if you want to compete at that level or provide a different point of difference that will be of real value to your clients.
- It is important to understand your competitive advantage if any. A new competitive advantage can be created if you currently do not have any.
- Determine your objectives in marketing. Do you need more clients or better business? Perhaps you need both. Be quite clear in the objectives that you set.
- You will need some resources to get your marketing efforts underway. Money will be part of that process, and some tools and specific brochures or systems will need to be designed. Put them into your plan with set timelines for implementation.
A good marketing plan will help you with building your business. Take action based on the objectives and targets of your plan.
When you work in professional sales, you must have a marketing packet that is of the highest quality. It must support you in every way possible given your market conditions, competition, product, and service. You should know what’s in it and how to put your fingers on the right bit of information relative to the active connection with the client or prospect that you are making.
Some salespeople do this quite well, whilst others do not. A client will view the condition and relevance of your presentational materials before they will listen to the story that you have to tell.
So what can or should you put in your presentation packet? Here are a few ideas to get started:
- Ensure that the packet or folder is very professional in appearance. That will mean a black folder with all relevant information placed inside. It should be clean and not damaged through any ‘over use’.
- Include ‘visual’ charts and graphs to help your clients understand the trends and changes in your industry.
- Have colour brochures relating to your products and services.
- Carry plenty of business cards ready to use
- Company information and testimonials
- Photographs of samples, and other client situations
- Price lists plus order or agreement forms
- A history of successful situations and stories from other clients that can be referred to
- Letter of introduction will be useful to leave with the client or prospect
- Statement of benefits available when using your products or services
- Press clippings relative to your industry and market share
The keys to winning new business include professional tools like these. Preparation is the rule here. Let the client or prospect see that you are professionally competent and skilled in the right way to help them. Beyond that point everything comes down to what you say and the confidence you convey.
In selling professional services and products the internet is very much part of the process. As salespeople we must go with the momentum and put ourselves into the process.
Now just about everyone knows that we can use websites to promote our businesses. The customers and clients that we deal with are very likely to check us out or find us first on the internet. On that basis the appearance of the website is really important to the profile that you wish to spread and promote. That is both at a business and at a personal level.
Your website should be optimised for your industry and be at least equal to if not better than that used by your competitors. To do these assessments include the following main issues in the review:
- Domain name choice relative to your business name or your industry type
- Domain hosting location relative to your primary business location
- Fresh and modern design reflecting the professionalism and profile that you want to promote
- Product and service information
- Methods of contact
- Testimonials of happy customers
- Database entry point for an industry newsletter
- Keywords relative to your industry and the profiles that the search engines are looking for
- Downloadable brochures for customers and clients to access
- Staff profiles and special skills
- Frequently asked questions
So what is the main idea of a website today in a sales type business? It’s there to help the customer understand you and take the next step of making contact.
The best salespeople integrate their activities with their selling skills and contact methods. It’s all about branding and an ease of communication. You can add certain other things to the process and strengthen your personal profiles through social media. All top salespeople today frequently use the following:
- Blogs based on product and industry information will always attract the search engines. provided the information that you are writing about is useful and frequent.
- Twitter can be a very good tool to reach small snippets of information out to your Facebook and LinkedIn connections.
- LinkedIn is quite useful for spreading the professional profile and relevance of an individual.
- Facebook can be useful with a bias towards a particular person and the image they wish to promote.
- Google+ is very powerful for linking business people into circles or groups of common clients and contacts. This then makes it a lot easier to build relevance in your marketing efforts and informational posts. Blogger as a blogging platform has a natural affinity to Google+ given that both are owned by Google.
From these simple strategies you can easily build a strong and relevant profile on the internet as a specialist salesperson in any industry. I would go so far as to say that any quality business should support their top salespeople in the processes of marketing on the internet.
When you work in selling and customer service you must have the right mindset. This is even more so the case if your income depends on your sales.
Have you ever come across a salesperson that has an obvious problem of client commitment and attention? You know the type; they only help you if you ask and then they do so without a smile or willing gesture. You tend to remember these poor sales people and the bad experiences that they have given you. Do you go back to them? Do you refer others to them? Probably not. If you are like me, you will prefer to stay away; you may even be inclined to spread the word about the poor service and experience.
If you work in sales in any industry it is time to have a good look at the messages you send when you connect with and serve your clients. The right mindset and attitude are key parts of building your sales results and client database. Start the day with an ‘attitude boost’. Look in the bathroom mirror and smile. Tell yourself that today will be a great day and that you are committed to excellence in sales and service.
So I know we all have ‘bad days’ but don’t let that spread to your customers and clients. Take steps to improve your attitude and mindset to that of a professional salesperson. Treat people as you would like to be treated. Make the experience of doing business with you an absolute pleasure.