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:
- Customers are examining costs
- Competitors are chasing your clients
- Overseas business is creating a level of product supply that has not previously been a factor in your customer base and client purchase decisions.
- Margins are being lowered to attract more sales in just about every industry
- The global world of supply and demand is opening up to a wider supply chain and differing cost base.
- 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’?
In business today there are many types of customers and yet we forget to handle each of them separately and specially. It is important to have a customer communication and contact system specifically designed for the different types of customers.
This then says that every customer type should have a dedicated part within your customer contact program. The strategies between customers types will differ based on some of the following criteria:
- You will have some loyal clients that have been working with you and purchasing your products or services for many years. They will bring stability to your business with consistent purchases and orders. Some of those loyal clients will be key accounts by definition, and also by volume of sales and orders.
- Your service and response should be different between ordinary customers and key accounts. Differentiate the ways in which you will work with key clients. Senior sales staff should be dedicated to each particular key account to ensure relevance and responsiveness when it comes to the supply of goods and services.
- From time to time you will get referral business and new clients from a number of sources. Referral business is built around the relationships, leads, and opportunities that you have with other people. When you have been given a referral, it is necessary to specifically and productively work through the referral opportunity. Only your best salespeople should take on the referral contact and potential conversion. It may also be necessary to give feedback to the person that made the initial introduction as the referral relationship changes and grows.
- Some of your existing customers will benefit from an improved version of your product or service. Working closely with your clients throughout the year will help you identify these special customers. Over time they can be converted to key accounts.
- When any new versions of your product or service are being considered for release, an industry briefing or prelaunch presentation can be organized for your key customers.
- Some of your current customers will be very happy with the existing levels of product supply and service. They will however never reach the purchasing or order levels of a key account. They still require special attention to ensure stability of customer relationship and ongoing sales.
- The profit margins that may exist on a typical customer sale will differ when it comes to a key account. Purchase volume and purchase amount has a lot to do with setting the lower margins for the key customers. To simplify the matter, set 3 simple levels of key account profit margins based on levels of sale and volumes of purchase. It is usually sufficient to have three levels of pricing relating to key account interaction. As part of this process it is important to understand the orders placed and purchases made by each key account throughout the year.
- Some of your customers will be seasonal in their purchasing activities. They may only require your product or service once a year. That being said, when they place an order and purchase it is likely to be in large volumes for a short period of time. They can therefore place special pressures on the staffing and supply chain, and on that basis will require unique understanding and communication systems.
Protect the relationships with each and every client within your business. Competitors will be chasing your clients and threatening your market share most of the time. It is quite easy for a client to move their product or service requirements across to another supplier. Business today is quite dynamic and demanding. Ensure that your product and or service are of the highest quality at all times. Any weak links need to be removed or rectified.
Need more tips for your sales team? Join our Newsletter on this site.