In sales it is wise to remember the factors of ‘reciprocity’. The act of giving freely and willingly has great impact on attracting repeat business and return customers. Clients know when you go out of the way to help them with their situation.
Certainly ‘reciprocity’ will help build your profile, trust, and respect with the customer. Be prepared to do some things for ‘nothing’ understanding that the person you are helping will really value your interest and help.
Consider these questions:
- How long is it since you ‘called in’ to talk to that customer who purchased from you last year or some time ago? Go back through your database to find the people that you can help and support further.
- What could you do for your customers today that would be of value to them? Go and see your clients and customers. Get in front of them at every opportunity when ‘in the field’.
- When the last sale went through, what did you do to extend the value of the product or service? Could you have done more?
- What can you do with your clients today to show them that you really value their business and contact?
It is a fact that people like to do business with those that they trust and respect. It takes time to achieve that profile; certainly reciprocity will help greatly as part of that process.
Find the people that you can help and go out of your way to do so. Over time that will bring you more clients and lots of repeat business. Establish the relationships with the right people that you know are of value to your business and your income.
In the profession of selling it is wise to remember that the customers and prospects that we work with essentially do business with people they know, respect and trust. It is the personal connections that you establish and the marketplace that will help you win the sales and the deals.
Make it a priority to establish valuable relationships with quality clients and key businesses. The strength and the integrity of the relationships will underpin your market share over time. Some of those relationships can extend for months if not years before a transaction will occur. You will need to be quite selective when it comes to the right clients and the right prospects to work with. Understand the best clients to work with and help them do business with you in a relevant way.
Here are some tips to help you build that foundation of client connection and trust. You can add to the list based on your business type and location.
- Your business card is likely to be the most effective marketing tool that you have. The stock paper that you use should be quite solid and not flimsy. A solid business card gives the perception of strength and relevance. On the front of the business card, have all of the relevant contact information, e-mail address, and website contact. On the back of the business card, have some dot points that relate to your business speciality and professional services. Be quite specific so that the client can retain the card as a quality contact. The size of the business card should be on the larger size of ‘average’. That being said, it should not be too large to be inconvenient to be handled or retained. The colours of the business card will be relevant to your business branding but also to your market. If you work with certain communities and different nationalities, be aware of the perceptions of colour. Choose the colours that work with your business and with the prospect or client communities.
- Most salespeople today will have some form of electronic or e-mail newsletter. The process can be integrated to your website, and your database. A newsletter should be sent fortnightly or monthly to your database. It should contain relevant articles, news clippings, and links to product or service information. You can use an auto responder process to streamline and simplify the dispatch of a newsletter.
- Segment your clients and prospects into valuable categories. Create a VIP club of special clients that should be serviced in a particular way. They will receive a greater percentage of your attention and service. Those clients should have the ability to give you repeat and referral business over time. They should also have the potential for frequent ongoing valuable business at the higher end of the scale.
- Establish a call contact program where you can be prospecting for new clients and contacting established clients each day. Devote approximately 3 hours to the call contact strategy. Half of that time should be devoted to those clients that you already know, and the other half of that time should be devoted to new people that you want to connect with. In that way your pipeline of opportunity will grow. The best time to make the calls will usually be the mornings. That leaves the afternoons for important meetings and contracts or negotiations.
From these points, it is easy to see that the client should be at the centre of your business model. Remaining in contact in a relevant way will help you build market share over time. People like to do business with people. That business secret will never change. Establish the required levels of trust and commitment to the prospects and clients that you know.
If you want to have more free sales tips, subscribe to our Newsletter on this site.
At the early stages of connecting with a customer, make sure that you are dealing with or talking with a decision maker. So many prospects like to think that they are the decision maker when it comes to ‘buying’, but in reality there is a head office or board of directors somewhere that will make the final move on any recommendations.
So how do you get around this? Through ‘selective questions’ you will get the facts; that is the right answer in most meeting and prospecting situations. You can usually ‘read between the lines’ when it comes to the responses that you get.
In saying this, be aware that some prospects are ‘doorways’ to the top people or decision makers. You may only have that ‘doorway’ to use in reaching into a business for a sale or order.
So what can you do here? Set some rules like the following:
- Research the business or the customer on the internet and in any other way possible before you start to approach them.
- Find someone in ‘management’ that can give you relevant facts about the business and the people.
- Get to meetings as much as possible as the personal approach allows you to read and interpret the body language as well as the words spoken.
- Find out what they are doing today and if any of your competitors are active with the prospect. If so, respect the relationship and find out how it works.
- Understand the ‘lead times’ to requirements and if any ‘pain points’ exist when it comes to the business or the prospect using your products or services. Can you save them any money? Can you make their business more productive?
- Practice your dialogue for prospecting and in attending meetings. The practice process will help you lift your conversions.
- Understand that all prospects and customers have pressures and challenges. Speak to enough prospects in the market and you will find that you can ‘open more doors’ on future sales.
Sales and customer service today will always have challenges, but the reality is that the challenges have always been there. Focus on the value that you bring to the market and the sales that you make will escalate.
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 does not matter what industry you work in, competition is strong and active most of the time. Some of that competition will be relevant and of interest to your clients. The clients will be on the lookout for the best deal or supply arrangement. Those clients will listen to the offering of your business competitors, and over time you can lose your best clients to the competitors in your industry.
Complacency is not a ‘good look’ in business today. All of your clients are doing things with a greater focus on the ‘bottom line’. They know what is required to keep their business on track for the year given the changes in their industry.
The ‘glue’ that holds the client relationship together in most cases is the bond and connection that they have with you as the ‘specialist’ that you say you are. Are you the expert of choice that your clients would go to in times of pressure or need? Would they call you before they contact the competition with a concern or challenge that needs resolve?
Relationships are the Key
In key account management and customer service the ‘expert’ status is really of great importance to ongoing business. Our clients must know that they are dealing with the best supplier of relevant goods and services locally and regionally. You must be the best choice of supplier and they must know that.
Some clients put priorities on different aspects of the business relationships they have with their suppliers. It is up to you to know what those priorities are; ignore them at your peril. Here are some factors that could be considered in that assessment.
- The role that cost plays in the supply of goods and services.
- The pressures of time in ordering and delivery
- Relationships between your clients key staff and your personnel
- Communication regards the progress of orders and supply
- Contact processes and systems when a problem or challenge evolves
- Guarantees on workmanship and replacement strategies that minimise downtime and loss for the client.
- Any business advantage that you can provide your client with, that can improve their business effectiveness, costs and or timeliness.
Today we need to consider the clients business and get to know it comprehensively. When we do that we can see the right ways to protect our client base from ‘competitor attack’.
In these times of business stress, the client is the key to your ongoing liquidity and market share. Focus on the client and give them the best information, service, and backup solutions available. When you find new clients, look to improve the process where and when you can. Become that expert of choice that clients expect in these challenging business times.