Reciprocity in Sales Today

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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’.
  3. When the last sale went through, what did you do to extend the value of the product or service?  Could you have done more?
  4. 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.

High Grade Customer Growth for Sales Teams

In any profession you need clients.  It takes time to develop them, serve them, and then over time they will leave.  It is a simple fact of business that your clients will eventually develop a new focus or requirement.  They will move on.  It really does not matter how strong the relationship is today; they will one day have a change of circumstances and they will move on.

This then shows us that we should have a solid plan and system to help us find new clients.  Every day the plan has to occur.  You have to improve your client base and database.  We call it the sales pipeline.

Many salespeople struggle with all of the things that they have to do every day.  The list of tasks can be overwhelming.  A typical day for a sales person will include:

  • Talking to current customers
  • Finding new customers
  • Following up on orders
  • Paperwork
  • Customer service
  • Placing new orders
  • Meetings
  • Talking with management
  • Reviewing product information
  • Entering customer detail into the database, etc

It’s a long list; you can probably add some things to the list yourself.

Without a day system, without some form of control you will struggle.  When a salesperson is struggling, the business and client base suffers.

Out of all of these things in the list above, the most important is ‘finding new customers’.  Everything else ranks below that key issue.

So how can you shift the bias of the day so you get to create some more clients?  The simple answer is that you shift your priorities and make prospecting number one in your diary every day.

It is a well-known fact that most salespeople do not like or easily accept the discipline of the job.  They would rather be ‘socialising’ with current clients and talking to the people that they know.  Whilst this is a part of doing business, it still ranks behind the issue of finding new clients.

When you understand this problem, it is easy to do something about it.  You simply shift your mindset to one of client growth and new business.  Every day you make new calls to businesses and people that you have not spoken to before.  It takes about 3 weeks to see some momentum, but eventually you break through the problem and new clients start to evolve.

If your income depends on your sales and your customers, it is a good choice to shift your mindset to this new way of doing things.  Develop the new habit of connecting with the right people.  Sales success can be yours.

What I Have Learnt About Prospecting

When you start prospecting for new business it is wise to stop and understand exactly what it is that you do and why someone would use your services.  This specific information will help you find more customers and convert them to clients.  Define your niche business.

In real terms what you do is match your specific speciality into the customer.  This single fact will make all of your cold calls more productive and focused.  When you keep your niche business narrow and specific, it makes it a lot easier to talk about the offerings and benefits you bring to the client.

This approach to prospecting is simple yet effective.  It makes you focus on yourself so you can sell your services and product with greater skill.

To adopt this process, consider the following questions:

  1. Where is your market located geographically?  Define your territory within boundaries.  Stay within your boundaries so your prospecting model is specific and organised.
  2. What is it that you sell?  For example, if you sell something like ‘surveyors equipment’, what specific equipment is it?  Who would be attracted to that equipment?  Drill down on the prospective buyers into groups such as mining surveyors, council planning surveyors, road surveyors.  When you do this you have the start of a focused prospecting model.
  3.  With your specific groups, why would they use your surveyor’s product and how would they use it?  What benefit would they get from it?

From these simple questions you can refine your prospecting process and your dialogue.  No longer is your cold calling a sales pitch; it becomes centred on a very specific question and conversation.  Here is an example:

  • ‘Good morning Mr Brown, it’s Peter Smith from Acme Surveyors.  Maybe you can help me out for a moment.  I’m just calling to see if you are struggling with your survey equipment in road planning, perhaps due to the lack of the latest geotechnical updates.  Is this an issue for you?’

This is the start of a very deep and relevant conversation.  Notice that the call entry point is all about the client and not much about you.  Expect the client to ‘push back’ a few times in conversation; most customers hate to be ‘sold’, and that is why you should not pitch.  You can do more with a conversation in a cold call than you can with a one-sided ‘sales pitch’.

The benefit of this entry statement is that it opens up into information that you can work with.  Keep the conversations moving forward by talking about the client and what they are doing today.  Avoid talking too much about your offering.  Ask more questions to see what the client is doing and how they are doing it.

The primary target in making the call is to see if the customer or prospect has a need or an interest.  Beyond that point you should set up a meeting.  Do not pitch your services across the telephone, but ask for a meeting to show the client more information that may be helpful.

It is not hard to win new business; it is just a process.  Align yourself to the process and more opportunity will come your way.

Setting Sales Targets and Customer KPI’s

So many salespeople do not closely track their progress in sales, market share and client interaction.  This is one of the major reasons that they fail to reach the goals that they require.As to what targets you should track really depends on your industry; however some of them are most likely going to be:

  • Gross annual sales
  • Current clients in your database
  • Numbers of prospects
  • $ Sales per client
  • $ Sales per unit sold
  • Marketing costs
  • Time from open to closing of sale
  • Referral business
  • Competitive position and market share (compared to your competitors)
  • Networking frequency with all of your clients

You can add to the list as required, however keep the process simple.  Too many numbers will slow down the real process that you want and that is growth.

All of these numbers must start from a real base or fact; that will be where you are now or where you have been in the last financial year.  These are numeric facts that are proven and real.  Depending on your industry, you will have facts to analyse and determine what growth will be possible for the future.

Not all industries will have the same amount of growth potential because other factors will come into play such as the economy, the market, client sentiment, and competitive position.  The growth factors that you set should be a stretch on personal performance but nevertheless realistic.

A salesperson and sales team that knows where they are heading is a ‘team of choice’ when it comes to performance in companies and corporations today.  Importantly, you and your team should make the right growth choices and then start taking the right actions.

The Biggest Problem

I see so many teams do all the planning and then fail to follow through with the required action; or if they take the required action, old habits soon set in and the new systems are forgotten.

The best way to drive new business and more sales is to set in place a new system of client contact and then keep it moving forward.  In this way you can set new habits and achieve better outcomes than the previous sales and prospecting models used.

Sales Teams – How to build your market share

So many salespeople struggle with growing market share. The single reason for this is that they have little or no personal system to build their business. Every day is a new day, and nothing consistently happens to build on the success of yesterday.

Perhaps I have upset some salespeople in saying that, however it is a proven fact that the performance of most sales teams is low for this very reason.

In any business and market there are also some other excuses that hold teams back. Some of them are here:

  • No support from the management team
  • No leadership to correct faults or lacking processes
  • No standards that can focus the prospecting and customer service processes.
  • Little action to a system that works in their market
  • Forgetting the clients and keeping in contact with them over time

So, all of this is a personal process; that’s the reality of it all. Any salesperson can improve their ‘lot’ by taking action. Given that most do not do the right things every day, there is huge potential out there for those that do.

If a salesperson takes on the personal challenges of their industry and takes action every day to a good plan, there is a very good chance that they will rise to the top of their market quickly and effectively.

Here are some tips for getting control of your market and market share.

  1. Define your territory geographically and physically so you know where you will find the business.
  2. See how many potential clients could be in your areas that are serviced by your competitors. Can you open the door with these clients?
  3. Be prepared to talk to many people to find the one opportunity. As long as your market is large enough that will not be a problem. The issue is in getting the right resources and research around you.
  4. Use a database that is comprehensive and easy to access. Over time you can build your database by 4 or 5 new people a day. Keep in regular contact so you can open up the relationship when the prospect requires help.

Are you the best service provider in your local area? Can you say that your product or service is as good if not better than the competition? If you cannot answer ‘yes’ to these questions yet, you have some work to do. Devise your business system and work to it every day.

Lead Generation – The Success Key for Most Businesses Today

When you work in sales in any industry, there will be one thing that stands out as the most important thing that you should do above everything else.  It will be the thing that helps build your business and strengthen your sales.

So what is that thing?  Could it be any of the following?

  • Prospecting for new clients
  • Keeping in contact with your existing clients
  • Gaining more market share from your competitors
  • Improving service and supply solutions for your key accounts and clients

From time to time throughout the year some of these things will change and take a different priority.  You could even say that some of them are equally important to others.

When I work with sales teams I like to draw their thinking to the factors of their business that are really important in their industry.  This reality check tends to open up the thinking that maybe every salesperson can get back ‘on track’ and away from the things that are distracting them from the most important issues of the business.

It’s a fact that most of the time these things are happening:

  1. Customers are examining costs
  2. Competitors are chasing your clients
  3. Overseas business is creating a level of product supply that has not previously been a factor in your customer base and client purchase decisions.
  4. Margins are being lowered to attract more sales in just about every industry
  5. The global world of supply and demand is opening up to a wider supply chain and differing cost base.
  6. The internet is letting the customer interact with their sales and orders to a great degree.

When your industry is highly competitive or the levels of orders and sales are changing, it pays to step back and do this simple analysis.  If you can clearly see some things that are being overlooked or lacking in intensity in your business activities, take action today so that you preserve market share as things change around you.  Decide what that one thing is that will help your business thrive.  Is it ‘prospecting’?