When it comes to your career in selling anything, the skills that you develop in lead generation are really important to the outcomes that you get with customers and ‘Key Accounts’. In itself, lead generation can be an entire system or process that you use in your business every day. If you get the system right, you will have a steady pipeline of leads and new clients. Consistency is the key to lead generation.
Without this ‘lead’ system, your business or customer base will eventually contract and shrink over time. Customers will leave you for all types of reasons. So of those reasons you can control, and others you cannot.
So here are some tips and ideas for building a system of contact that will help with future leads and prospects for you and your business:
- Understand you market by both type and location. Exactly where do your customers come from and why do they come to you? When you know the answers you will know how to improve the rate of enquiry or opportunity.
- Who are your customers? You will need to profile your customers into segments of value and relevance to your business.
- Why do your customers come to you? What are the top 5 reasons most of your customers come to you?
- When do those customers come to you? Seasonal selling can be a real challenge if the space or time between selling seasons is quite long.
Taking all of these facts into account you will find that a profile of you customer can be built. The demographic of the ideal customer can be inserted into your sales team business plan and prospecting strategy.
Here is a very important question for you. What is the difference between a basic customer and a ‘Key Account’? There should be a real difference of response and service when it comes to helping a ‘Key Account’ in your business.
‘Key Account’ customers can impact your business in a major way; the loss of a key customer can be devastating to the cash flow. Far too many businesses operate with a small number of key accounts, and that then exposes them to great risk with competitors continually chasing their key account for new business.
So the message here is clear. Find new leads for your business by developing a system of contact, and then move the basic customers through your contact pipeline to convert them to ‘Key Accounts’. Over time this basic process will strengthen your business base and market share. Service your ‘Key Accounts’ with the due care and relevance that they deserve.
If you want more free tips about leads and generating new clients, please join our newsletter.
When it comes to developing a sales team there are some real challenges in getting old habits out of the way and new patterns of work established. Old habits in a sales team take significant effort to reprogram and reposition. That is the job of the Sales Manager or Team Leader.
Many salespeople may not feel that they have a performance problem and they have been doing the same good things for years. ‘So why should they do something new’, they say. With limited thinking and old habits, a business will go nowhere fast.
The reality of the matter is that many sales teams need to adjust their focus and their actions regularly. The selling season is real and unique to all product types, customers and services. The selling team just have to adjust.
So what are the key issues in the selling season for your business? Try some of these:
- Lead time for the orders for your clients
- Supply of goods from your main factory or central supply source
- Pressures on your clients manufacturing or supply
- Economic changes in the regional or local economy
- Changes to infrastructure
- Changes to transport and delivery corridors
- Impact on technology for you and your clients
An open and questioning mind will help your sales team adjust to the aspects of the market and the clients business. The market and technology is changing so fast that the market and your business this year will not be the same next year. Help your client move through this change.
Improve your services to all of your clients in small increments; that will allow you to consolidate the change in a meaningful way.
In business today I see far too many sales people that take things the way that they are. These salespeople fail to adjust to the market and learn more skills to build better market share under changing market conditions.
Let’s face an important fact here; the market is always changing, and yet if you keep doing the same old things, nothing will change for you. One of the toughest things to change in business is your habits. You have spent years building on your habits; whilst that can be a protection process to keep life under control, it certainly does nothing for you in getting more sales and better customers.
The best salespeople know that adjustment is a wise process; everything we get out of business and our market will come from our efforts. They are the only things that we can control.
In most locations, towns or cities, the selling season is limited to no more than 11 months of the year. In some cases it is far less than that. All of your effort has to be directed into the core selling time in the best possible way. That will include the right factors of:
- Target market in your town or city
- The right products or services
- The right time of day
- Product and service knowledge
- Knowing what people will want and when
- Building strong relationships with the right people
- Keeping on top of the competition and their activities in your area
- Capturing all of your contacts into a database of relevance and quality
- Communicating frequently into your market and customer base
Now would be a good time to look at just what you are doing in your business and customer base. Can you improve any of the above items? What will it take to change old restricting habits to a new process of growth and change?
As a final tip in this topic it is worthwhile noting that most customers will move on to others at some stage; you cannot keep the same customers forever. All things being equal, some of your customers will move location, change business focus, or be attracted the competitors in your market. On that basis it pays for you to develop a process of new client growth as part of your prospecting processes.
Plan to lose some of your current customers each year, so you then fill the void with new customers. It is a fact that new prospects and customers in some industries will take time to nurture and convert. Top salespeople know how to do this; they have a system to support the entire process. Develop the focus and start to build your market for the long term.
If you want more free tips for your sales team, please join our Newsletter on this site.
A sales attitude is required to create better market share and more business. When you look at the average sales team, there is a significant difference between all members of the team and on that basis they will need to be individually managed and encouraged.
There are many different performance models available for sales team analysis. Essentially there is one of the clear fact that is common to all. Some salespeople are good on building relationships with customers and people generally; other salespeople will be good at closing the deal then moving on. For this reason it pays to have a variety of a good salespeople of both types in your team.
It is a notable fact that these two types of sales characters are distinctly different and approach prospecting and selling from different angles. Your sales manager or team leader is likely to be one of these characters; they will not normally relate to the other sales character well at all. That will then alienate and frustrate the other part of your sales team.
This is where the team leader needs to carefully manage the two different sales styles regardless of their personal selling style or bias.
Here are some other tips that can apply to the establishment of a solid sales attitude within the business team:
- Prospecting for new business should be the number one event in every sales person’s diary each business day. There is simply no excuse for not prospecting. A good sales team is built on business generation and not order taking.
- Customer contact and customer service follows as a close second to the prospecting process. In this economic environment, customers need to be encouraged and nurtured through the sales cycle.
- There is a real difference between ordinary customers and key accounts. Importantly, your business and your sales team needs to differentiate between the two and service them differently.
- Every salesperson should be responsible for filling and maintaining their sales pipeline. Over time the pipeline should be growing in your prospects, customers, and quality of sales.
- You will need a good customer relationship management (CRM) software program to help with your sales pipeline. In only this way can you track the relationships with suspects, prospects, and clients. The selection of software for your business will normally be based on the product or service type, and the contact methods that you use. Also give some due regard to the ongoing customer interaction and the other departments in your business that will be contacting the same customer over time. Every stage of the customer contact cycle needs to be entered into the CRM system.
As a final note, your best salesperson should never be promoted to the level of sales manager. There is a lot of difference between managing salespeople and achieving results.
The best salespeople do not normally make good sales managers as they simply cannot explain their methods to the sales team and encourage the right type of action to be taken.
Good sales management is a very specific process requiring a very skilled professional that understands your business.