One of the biggest problems with some salespeople is that they do not have a ‘customer list’. They have no understanding of just what a customer looks like or where to find them. They wait for the customer to call the office or drop into the business. In many respects they wait for the marketing efforts of the business to pull in the enquiry and make the telephone ring.
Without a customer list you are doomed to failure. The customers that find you or call you are to a large degree a result of your actions; everything else is ‘luck’. Whilst some salespeople may be ‘lucky’ from time to time, dominant market share is only driven from systematic actions on the part of the salesperson.
So there is a very simple message here. If you want to rise to the top of your industry and earn a good income, you need to develop your customer list; you will only do that through prospecting every day.
To get things started let’s set up some systems to the process:
- Why do customers need you? What do you do or have available in your business that customers will find useful? Define these things so you can focus your prospecting and marketing efforts. Understand the value that you bring to your customers.
- Given any particular calendar or business year, are there any seasonal sales patterns that you need to watch and integrate into? Most of your marketing should be directed to this time of year; some businesses find that the seasonal selling time is 9 to 10 months of the year.
- Define the ideal customer as to profile, location, cash flow, and value. When you have this information, you can focus your prospecting efforts into a particular zone or territory. You will know exactly who you are looking for and why. You should create a template with those key issues in standard format; it can then be uses as a check-list in any customer contact or prospecting process. Capture key information throughout the day and enter it into your database at day end.
- Understand the impact of your competitors in the market today. Identify their customers, as well as the threats that the competitors impose on your market share.
- Some customers in your market will have pressures of price, timing, product performance, and long term value. Local business sentiment and the national business economy will impose variables on your clients and customers during the year. Whilst some customers will be slower to make a decision in a longer sales cycle or slower economy, you simply need to have a customer list that allows you to act with more people. Maintain regular contact with your customer list will help you build your business in any market and at any time. It is a personal process that requires a special focus and system.
- A daily prospecting process should involve a fixed period of prospecting time, a good dialogue, and a database software program. Every day you should develop your prospecting systems so they improve over time; practice will help you improve your calls to conversions. Devote approximately two or 3 hours to daily prospecting. Maintaining contact with suspects will allow you to turn them into prospects. The object of any prospecting program should be to generate a meeting and establish a valuable customer relationship.
- To a large degree, most of the new business that you generate will come from the long-term relationships that you establish. Your prospecting efforts should therefore be focused on establishing key relationships and building them with the right people. That is why the prospecting plan is so important.
The sales process gets a lot easier when you know a lot of people that can be considered future customers. Constant contact into your database and sales territory will help you identify those people that need your services and your products. Top salespeople understand the importance of prospecting and the customer list they create.