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.
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In looking at a prospecting model, you should consider prospecting as a marathon and not a sprint. It is something that you do every day and consistency matters more than speed.
To build the right prospecting model for you consider the following questions:
- Where is your market located? You will need to focus in a region to connect with the right people.
- What does a prospect look like? What are the attributes of a prospect that help you choose the right connections to make? Clarity is required.
- What will you do every day as part of personal prospecting for new clients? How will you get the process under way?
- What will you say to prospects and new people when you connect with them for the first time? Why should they listen to you? Simple dialogue development will help you with the connection. The conversation that you create should be about the person you are talking to and not what you’re offering. Questions should form the core of your approach to new clients and contacts.
- Why should the person meet with you? The best canvassing calls focus on the opportunity of a meeting. Your call should be focused on just one thing; to create a meeting where you can connect with the person and get better information. Most new business will come from the trust you can create and the relationship establishment that will be built over time.
- What service or product will be at the centre of the prospecting effort? You cannot confuse the process with too many ideas or statements. When you understand what people need from you, the conversations you create should centre on that topic and requirement.
- What prospecting process will be at the core of your contact and database model? It pays to only use one prospecting system so you can improve in the method and practice what you do.
- When will you start the process and how often will you do it? Regularity is the key to getting results in networking and prospecting.
As you can see, clarity is required to take your prospecting efforts to the market and your location. It is not a random process.
One of the biggest mistakes salespeople make in canvassing and networking is in doing too many things and not focusing down on just a few. When you focus you can track and improve the results that you are getting. Practice and self-improvement are key attributes of a good prospecting model.
When you work in a sales position in a competitive industry, you really do need to understand your character when it comes to selling and the factors that go with it. When you truly understand how you like to do things, you can build on your strengths as a top salesperson.
There are many different ways to establish and grow as a person in your sales career or industry.
Here are some questions to review and consider as part of this process:
- If you are presented with some serious challenges in your marketplace, are you prepared to do what it takes to create the necessary opportunity and new business?
- Do you like to listen to other salespeople when it comes to market place activity, or do you work on the basis of your own experience and momentum?
- How do you see the opportunity for building a client base and selection of services in your business and market today?
- When negotiations get tough, do you know how to move to the next level and use the necessary confidence to close the deal?
- Do you practice your professional sales skills on a daily basis so that you can grow your client base from regular prospecting and referral business?
- Exactly how much knowledge to you have when it comes to your product or service? Can it be better?
They are interesting questions which many salespeople will answer quite differently. It is the top salespeople in any profession that are highly independent and driven when it comes to skills and market activity. Every day they strive to grow their client base and or attract more sales. They look at ways to do just that.
A ‘great salesperson’ you can be if you decide to move ahead with your skills. Take charge of your market by knowing where you are right now and planning the factors of personal improvement that will take you forward.
In this business world the average client is usually very sophisticated and savvy when it comes to negotiating an agreement of any order for goods and services. The best sales results are obtained when the client is fully satisfied with the details and the price. Pressured selling doesn’t come into it today much at all.
As a salesperson today, the best results will come to you through high quality customer connection and satisfaction. Within those factors the following apply:
- Prospecting on a trust basis
- Building long term relationships
- Providing valuable product and service information
- Understanding the customer requirements
- Solving the customer need
- Backing up on the deal follow through
So the message here is to drop the ‘out of date’ sales clichés and systems from the traditional ‘old school’ of pressured selling and negotiation. Seek to connect with the client and build business out of the new connection.
The start of the sales cycle can take months to establish with some prospects so you have to keep connecting and meeting new people. Freshen up your prospect list with daily prospecting. Some clients will be easy to reach and others will not ‘open the door’ on the connection until they trust you. On average it takes about 3 or 4 attempts to reach clients before they will connect with you. Prove yourself as professional and diligent with a relevant way of approaching your clients.
Our customers like to be treated with respect. Any salesperson that overlooks that process is doomed to failure. The average customer today will not be pressured and is more likely to slow the sales cycle if they feel pushed.
Here are some key business skills that will help the average salesperson move ahead today with prospects, clients, and sales results. Develop your sales system around these things:
- Your thinking will impact your actions, so focus on improving your thinking on business, clients, and prospecting. Expect the best results as you take action, and those results will come to you.
- Improve your prospecting model through regular effort and daily prospecting.
- Establish a clear set of guidelines that can help you stay in touch with clients using relevance as a reason for connection.
- Give great service when an order is placed.
- Seek referral business when the time is right.
- After the sale, keep in contact to ensure client satisfaction and your availability for making another sale.
Business today is not hard; it is just logical. Top salespeople develop a sales system based on trust, and then they stick to the plan of contact. So how many people do you need to know? In most cases you will need a database of several hundred qualified prospects. You should be contacting all of your prospects at least once every 90 days.
When you look around the business environment today, you will see different salespeople and different sales teams. They all function differently and some are more successful than others. When you work on commission based summary, success is not an option. Results simply have to come your way.
The most successful salespeople are those that deliberately choose to improve themselves and their skills. Each week they are taking further steps towards skill development and improvement.
Here are some tips to help you improve your results, client base, and sales.
- Read books on top salespeople to get more ideas about how people approach their industry and their market. When it comes to selling as a profession, we may have new technology and resources to use today, but the profession is the oldest in the world. You can learn a lot from those successful people that have put their ideas and experiences down on paper.
- Determine your greatest weakness when it comes to sales and prospecting activity. The greatest weakness that you can identify is likely to be the one that you avoid at all costs. It is also likely to be the one that holds back your market share and income. Determine the weakness factor that is holding you back, then seek some training and guidance to help you improve and remove the weakness. Practice is the key to developing new skills and improving poor ones.
- Understand your strengths from a business perspective. Those strengths can be solid foundations for ongoing client contact, presentations, client service, and sales. Develop your strengths further through the practice process.
- Systemise your day so that you can get the most important things done that can help you build market share and sales. Top salespeople know the importance of certain key things that they do. Every day they will repeat the most important issues such as prospecting, presentation skills, and client contact.
- Track your progress on a daily and weekly basis. Results and ratios connect you see where your activities are improving, and where the weaknesses still remain.
- Build a database of client contact that is reliable and accurate. Every meeting and conversation should be tracked into the database for future opportunity. As simple as this seems, many salespeople are not very diligent when it comes to database maintenance. This weakness can be your strength.
- Set business and sales goals that are results orientated. Determine the number of sales that you need for the quarter and for the year. Determine the number of clients that you need in particular categories that will help you achieve those sales. Set the prospecting model in action that will allow you to create more clients, and meet more people. Each day you can track your activities with prospecting, meetings, presentations, and sales.
All of these things will help you to progress as a professional salesperson. That being said, you should take a half day a week out of your business diary to focus on planning and performance. Each week, each quarter and each year, there will be seasonal changes to client activity and market forces. The planning process allows you to focus on what’s been happening, how you need to change, and the implementation of your personal business plan.
Many people think that sales and a career in sales is a ‘cushy’ job where you do not have to work hard. Many administrative or office based ‘backroom people’ will frequently question what the sales team or key account team are actually doing for their salary.
The fact of the matter is that the sales team and individual salespeople work differently. They are creators of opportunity; they look for the next sale and they push towards it. That being said, there are great salespeople, and there are ordinary salespeople. In every industry you see the ‘greats’ and you see the ‘not so greats’.
A salesperson without action, drive and vision is like a car without wheels. It has an engine, makes a lot of noise, but travels nowhere.
If you have chosen sales as your career, you are in a good spot, but you are also in a hard place that will require real work and effort. Great sales specialists are self-motivators and drivers of their business. They know that the business will come in if they get out the door and into their market.
Here are some ideas to help you move into your industry and sales career with greater success.
- Define your focus so you know exactly who your market is and where they are. Every prospecting effort and client connection should be to a plan and strategy of approach. Your vision should be specific to what you sell and how you do it. Practice will help you improve as you move ahead. It should be remembered that this is very personal and in that respect you and the motivator to get the job done.
- Connect with clients each and every day. When you open the door with your clients, ensure that they know you well and that you connect with them on a frequent basis. Client contact should be a process in your diary. It has to happen every day.
- Grow your database of prospects on a daily basis. Devote about 2 or 3 hours each day to regular prospecting; that is talking to new people that are not clients at the moment. It is a fact that many clients will disappear over time, given that their situation will change. You must fill the pipeline of opportunity with new people.
- Practice your craft and your dialogue. Connecting with clients and prospects will involve a number of situations such as presentations, sales pitches, product updates, negotiations, placing orders, and service requirements. All situations require practice and very good dialogue. If you practice what you say and do with the most important parts of client connection, you can lift your conversions of sales.
- Believe in yourself and sell yourself at every logical opportunity. You are the best person to do this. Self-promotion is all part of being a salesperson. You promote with relevance, style, and professionalism.
- Look for new ideas and people to connect with. Read papers, surf the internet, and ask for referrals. There is always a new client just around the corner if you know how to find them.
If you have chosen ‘sales’ as a career you are at the start of something exciting. Take charge of your day and your actions. Start driving yourself into your market. Get to know lots of the right people. Be a professional.