When it comes to selling and professional customer service, the top salespeople spend more time in going the ‘extra mile’ when it comes to the solution for the customer. Most salespeople will say that they do a good job, but the reality can only be assessed from a client perspective.
Only the client will know that you have done more than what was required and that you have really helped them. When you get this process right, you will get more enquiries and build a better database of leads and clients.
Our clients like to know that they are being helped by top salespeople and not being sold by an average salesperson.
Intelligent business people will choose the product or service providing all the elements of information, performance, services, and supply are available.
Here is a strategy to help you with your key accounts and sales:
- Seek to understand the need and the requirement before you sell the product or service.
- Provide information and knowledge. If you do this correctly, you will not have to sell and pitch much at all to close the deal.
- Be aware of the limitations on product and service availability. Do not overstate the supply of something when you really do not know the complete facts. When in doubt get the right information and check it out before you pass it on to the client.
- When the deal is being negotiated and documented, be aware of the order status and supply times. Remove any doubt from the clients mind.
- When the deal is done, follow through personally and ask if all facts and outcomes were as the client expected.
- Stay in contact for the long haul. Contact all your clients every 90 days or more so they feel connected to your business and services.
It’s not hard to be a top salesperson. It is really common sense coupled with great attention to detail.
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.
One of the biggest challenges in business and in sales is in breaking old habits. If we cannot change old habits then we are trapped in the past and nothing will change for us as sales professionals. Every year the market, the competition, and the customers we work with will change circumstances and buying patterns. For this very reason, we need to change as salespeople, or improve on our daily efforts. Redundancy is not far away for those that cannot change their business habits.So why is it so hard to change old habits? It is quite simple to understand; we have had years of preparation and routine to set habits in place, so when you find that you are in a new market or challenging business situation, the change that you need to implement to adjust your focus is so hard to pull-off. Most salespeople can’t do it or lose focus quickly and return to their old ways.
This factor of reality can be a good and a bad thing, and here is why:
- It is good because most of your competitors will find it equally hard and time consuming to change their business plans and habits.
- It is bad because the effort and focus required by individuals to change their habits and approach business differently can be a difficult task for most.
A process of constant improvement and mindset to support it will usually take you to the top of your market. It all comes back to our ability to change in the right way and produce the results that the industry and market requires.
Given all of this, here are some tips to help you create change in your business and build some real momentum on a daily basis:
- Define what the market or your business needs now by way of change, and determine the habits that are required to deal with that.
- A small number of habits are easier to implement than a great number at once.
- Pick three new habits from your list of required changes, ensuring that those three habits are the most important in your list.
- Organise your day around the three habits. Without fail these three things have to be done regardless of anything else. At the start of every business day, the three habits should be implemented before anything else is attempted.
- Keep telephone calls and clients away from you at the start of the day so you can get these major and important issues underway.
- Track your progress when it comes to these things. When you track numbers and ratios, you can see when progress is starting and how valuable it is for you.
- It takes about 3 weeks to implement the required changes of habits for most salespeople.
Top salespeople in any industry know the value of action and focus. In reality, habits are precisely that; decide what will take you forward and start taking the required action. In a few weeks you will be seeing the results that you need.
When you first approach a prospective client you never really know where the conversation will head, or if they have a need or an interest in your offering. This is particularly the case when it comes to cold calling and basic drop in canvassing.
For this very reason you need to be very flexible and conversational in getting the connection going. If you sell a service as opposed to a product, it is better to be biased towards building trust before you get to the real point of the approach. In a few words I can summarise this as ‘reducing the pressure’.
In business today, most clients and prospects do not like to be ‘sold or closed’. The days of manipulative selling are well gone. Information and trust are the keys to moving the conversation forward. Today, it could be called ‘relationship’ selling. As to how long the relationship should be, really depends on the product and the service that you offer; the relationship required can be from a few minutes to months or even years.
Get to the Facts
To qualify a client or prospect you need to know the right things relative to their business or personal situation. Here are a few tips to do that:
- Check to see if you are talking with the decision maker. There is no point talking with a person that has no relevance to your product or service. Asking questions will help you here.
- Find out what the prospect has now or if they have used similar products or services over the years. Do they actually understand what you are about to talk about? This is really important in a complex product or service offering.
- If the prospect has used that product or service before, was it helpful in their business or personal life? Working from a base of previous experience will help you connect with the situation for them today. Be aware that the situation may have changed for them; there is no point selling a concept, product or service if they have a changed business situation or circumstances.
- Could the prospect see the same solution occurring again or will it be helpful for them today or in the future? Previous experiences that the client may have had with your product or service help you relating to the situation today.
These questions will lead you to information that can help you proceed with moving the conversation forward. From all of these concepts, take the time to really listen to the facts and responses from the other person.
When you work as a salesperson one of the best ways to rise to the top of your industry or to get a hold on your market is to target the bigger clients. Here are a few facts for you:
- The larger clients buy more products and services
- These bigger clients buy more frequently and seasonally
- The large customers give you credibility as a top salesperson in your market
- You can value add your services and spread your offering more easily in a top clients account
- These bigger clients want productive and problem solving solutions.
- These clients want to streamline their activities so they can improve the bottom line.
It is notable that many top prospective clients are already serviced by your competitors, so they are easy to find. That being said, it may take some time to convert these prospects to clients so a systemised contact process is required. Set up a good database in your business to help the sales team coordinate their efforts in contacting the right prospective customers.
In today’s business environment where productivity and the bottom line means just so much, it is a very wise strategy to look at your client base and refine it to higher quality clients in this way. Your smaller clients may stay with you but they should not get the same focus as a Key Account or big client.
These large prospective clients can be defined in a number of ways, depending on your business type and location. Here are some ideas to help with that:
- The locational factors will drive better business for you. To some degree, the convenience of the client to your business location will allow better supply and demand of product and services. For this reason you should define your territory for both primary and secondary business.
- A top client or top prospective client can also be defined by the type of product or service that they buy from you. That may be by volume or by sales total.
- A good client is one that can take you into other locations as part of their business model, or take alternative products, and add on services from you.
Look around the current market and see who your competitors are servicing. Those relationships are ready to be tested. You can open the door through any of the following:
- Alternative supply solutions
- Better customer service
- Discounted prices and bulk discounts
- Value add products and services
Building your business with better quality clients is a wise strategy for an established business that is looking for market dominance.
When you work in sales of any type you will see prime examples of clients that are not serviced well. It could be that they do not purchase often enough, or not in sufficient volume to rank as a priority. That being said, they are likely to be an opportunity in waiting.
Many of those poorly serviced clients not purchasing much today can be key clients of the future. Everything changes in business and you should not accept the status quo when it comes to clients and their business situations. Keep in touch so you know when their business or personal situation requires your product or service.
It is interesting to note that many salespeople do not maintain regular and consistent contact with their entire database. In most situations they will contact less than 25 clients on a regular basis. All other clients will be relegated to the ‘call me when you need me’ process.
It has been proven that a regular 90 day contact system with all clients in your database will build greater business opportunity than just waiting for the ‘client to call’ when they want something. After the third contact of 90 days, the client or prospect starts to see that you are really interested in them and their needs. It is likely that they will get closer to your business and could potentially over time convert to a key customer.
So often I have seen sales and customer service situations where many clients and prospects move to another supplier simply because they felt overlooked or neglected. That’s something to be avoided.
Here is a contact model to help your business growth:
- Understand who your key clients are by definition and location. Yes they will need special attention; however that attention should be in balance with all other clients.
- Create a contact model for Key clients and then all others. Key clients should be contacted at least every 30 days. Other clients should be contacted inside 90 days regardless of their status.
- Use a multi faceted contact process to give your clients information about your product or service and any changes of product that they may be interested in. The contact tools that you can use should include email newsletter, direct calls, and drop in meetings, product updates, and industry briefings. In balance they create a good source of market and product information.
- Look at the competitors in your industry and identify their client base. It is likely that you can open the contact process with some of their clients.
- Devote the first part of your day to contacting at least 10 new people that you have not made contact with previously. When this is done in balance with your existing database you have a pipeline of growth.
Those clients that are underserviced will be great allies, if and when you convert them to greater levels of business. It may take months or years to move them closer to your business, however the journey is worth it with some clients.