In this business environment some companies and industries will be more successful than others, but it is the sales team and customer service team that are now more important than ever before. Consistency in client contact will help consolidate market share and protect your income.
If your business is struggling in any way, take a look at your sales team first to see just what they are doing or not doing. Too many salespeople listen to their peers when it comes to results and activities. If you have any ordinary performers in your sales team it can spread like a ‘cancer’ in and across the entire team. Complacency breeds complacency; top performers are required in today’s sales environment.
When you are not getting your share of the market and the sales, here are the things that you should look at first:
- Split your sales team into high achievers and average performers. Determine who is producing the sales and the orders and find out why that is the case. The balance of the team will be doing a mixture of ‘nothing much’. When you know the differences in your team you can handle the issues of skills improvement, redundancy, repositioning, and refocus.
- When your industry is slow or under pressure, it is the systemised action of your top people that will get you through. It is likely that your top people will be less than 10% of the workforce. Replicate the systems that work into the balance of the team. Those that can’t handle the change should be reallocated or made redundant. Experimental salespeople do not work.
- Split your customers into 3 groups. Firstly your top clients should be determined and allocated into a VIP section of your business. They should get better treatment and service than all other clients. The second group of customers are those that have the potential to move to a Key Account status. You job is to find out how to do that and why it should occur with each customer in this group. The third group are those customers that randomly purchase goods or services and that are unlikely to move up the client pipeline status to a Key Account. If you are going to remove the poor performers from your sales team, then you can drop the third group of customers to free up some time for the remaining salespeople.
- Get your prospecting model sorted and strengthened with your top salespeople. Use the best systems and ideas that they have to consolidate the prospecting system for your business and local area.
This is all about strategy. Focus on your people and the business will generally come in, albeit in a modified form. Business is all about people so go back the people level and sort it through. Opportunities will soon come back to you and the sales team.
When it comes to building a customer database and contact system, the best way to do so is through a contact and selling process that is focused entirely on the client. When you match your offering to the client, the pitch and sale process is a natural progression. You will get more orders that way.
Most clients hate to be ‘sold’. They have the experience to know when that is occurring and tend to avoid salespeople that ‘push’. Top salespeople do not push on the deal; they position and communicate. They ask the right questions and provide the right answers. The sales process is actually unique to the client. They will accept the offering or they will find another salesperson to help them.
At the base of every client relationship, the client likes to have the ability to exercise choice. If you give them that ability, then the sale is a lot easier. The reason the client will ‘choose’ you or your company in those circumstances is because they know that you are the ‘right choice’.
To solve this ‘choice’ equation, look at your offering of product or service from the client’s perspective. Here are some categories to apply:
- Product or Service that ideally suits the client
- The easiest way to place the order
- Timing of the availability and how it will be delivered
- Criteria that must be satisfied when the order is placed
- Satisfaction from the order to the delivery and after the sale
- Measurement of satisfaction will help you with referrals
- Ongoing contact and availability
If you want to achieve in your industry and territory, look at these factors and work on them from a client perspective. Align yourself to the client; the new business leads and sales will then come your way much easier.
It really doesn’t matter what business you are in, the information that you can provide to your prospects is of high value to them. If you provide the information as a free service, you are likely to convert more prospects to clients.
The process of ‘giving freely’ is a great marketing tool in many industries. For this very reason you should create a regular professional e-zine or newsletter to send out to those prospects that you have connected with over time.
Information is valuable to your market; provide information in articles that will help them save money or grow their market share. Either way they will have an interest.
Creative writing can be a challenge because of the time and the effort required to select the material and prepare it for despatch. If that is a problem for you, then you can locate professional copywriters to put some material together for you on a regular basis.
The key here is to provide information that is useful and do so in a regular and convenient format. That will normally be a newsletter. Here are some ideas to help:
- Regular contact with your market can be achieved by an online database and auto responder system.
- You can feed your online database by using a website capture form.
- The frequency of your online newsletter can vary subject to your market, but is generally accepted that a newsletter once every 2 weeks is acceptable in most industries. The point is that you have to create the interesting content.
- Consistent branding should be achieved across your website, newsletter, and marketing material. Have opt-in forms in all of them for clients to join your database register.
- When you communicate to your prospects, provide exceptional value and relevance.
- Personalise your communication so that the articles and the newsletter talk to the person. When you write your newsletter, do so from the angle of personalisation. Talk to the person on an individual basis rather than some generic broad informational manual or article.
- Make it easy for the prospect to contact you via mobile, email, and calling in.
- Put a name on everything. If the prospect wants to make contact, they have a name to make contact with.
- Allow your newsletter to build your circle of influence and relevance. Over time it can multiply the value of your prospect database. When you make that regular telephone call to your prospects, the conversation will be much easier.
- Follow up your database a few days after you send out your newsletter. Talk about the feature article to see if that was of any use to them.
- Ask your prospects if there is anything that they would like you to handle or discuss in upcoming newsletters.
As easy as this process is, many businesses struggle with e-zines and databases. They seem to find the organisation and process a bit of a challenge. Make no mistake here; business today has changed radically and the levels of communication have opened right up.
Be prepared to be a ‘cut above’ the competition when it comes to the client and prospect communication process. Over time it will help you build massive market share and opportunity.