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So the message here is to drop the ‘out of date’ sales clichés and systems from the traditional ‘old school’ of pressured selling and negotiation.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.
If you sell business to business the telephone is a very powerful tool to use with your prospects. It is relatively easy to find the people to contact as prospects and the telephone book is a good place to start.
Here are some reasons to use the telephone as part of your prospecting model:
- It is time efficient
- Anyone can do it
- You can generate lots of meetings from the telephone
If these are the facts, why is it that we see so many salespeople struggle? It is the case that most salespeople just cannot deal with the organisation and mindset required to make lots of prospecting calls. It is also common for a certain degree of ‘call reluctance’ to be evident. Top salespeople break through these things, whilst others avoid the challenge.
If you are going to use the telephone to call ‘private people’ and individuals, check out the rules and laws that apply to the ‘do not call register’. You will need to keep within the rules.
If you are new to an industry or new to your job, and sales results are something that you must achieve, then start to master the telephone and bring it into your business model.
Here are some tips to get your business momentum underway:
- Set some goals that relate to results in your career. The goals should be medium to long term and apply to the business year ahead.
- Determine the things that you need to do to reach those goals. You should have a list of 3 to 5 things that if done, will help you move ahead in client numbers and sales orders.
- Find the resources that you need to move ahead with your actions.
- Develop a call prospecting plan that involves the telephone.
- Create a call script and process. Practice what you say and how you make those calls.
- Establish a day plan that allows you to get the key things done that will improve your business and client list.
- Start the action process and do it every day.
- Start building a database as part of your call and customer contact system.
It is very important to create new habits when it comes to building your business. If you do not create new habits, the same results that you got last year will be evident this year. It is hard to set new habits in place, and it will take a high degree of personal focus. After about 3 or 4 weeks you will see progress.
As you start to do these things, track your actions and results. You will soon see some successes, and over time those successes will build. In business today everything is up to you and the systems that you develop.
Personal performance comes from within, and you are the best person to make that happen.
In sales today you must build relationships. It is those relationships that will bring you long term business rather than short term gain.
If you put a networking process into your prospecting model, you will see better results from a customer and sales perspective. So how do you build a networking process? What do you need to do? Here are some ideas to help you.
- Encourage friendship and common interests. Find out what the prospective client likes to do and what sport or interest they may have. Providing their interests are legal and ethical, get involved and do something with that prospect through that common interest. Ask them to join you at the golf course, a sports game or theatre event; whatever may be of interest to them. Involve their partner in the process if that seems appropriate.
- Keep the prospect up to date with market or product updates that can help their business. Invite them to product or service information workshop and industry briefing. Let them test out some of your latest products or services.
- Get some other people in your team involved with the client so that the relationships broaden. Have your most experienced people touch base with your prospect.
- Have frequent coffee meetings or go to lunch. Keep those meetings of high value but not overly long to interfere with the client’s business day. Show respect for time and the client.
- Introduce the client or prospect to other like-minded clients of yours that you have worked with for some time. In this way the friendships can be built.
- Show interest in the clients business and put one of your experienced team members into the clients business for a few days or a week (at no cost to the client), so the systems and processes that the client operates with can be fully understood.
- Give the client some samples of your latest products to use and test. Ask them to give you feedback ‘as an industry based response’ for your head office team.
A lot of this may seem common sense, although experience says that much of it is not done enough today. When you get really involved with your prospect or client by giving them some tips and ideas to save them money or time, your long term client relationship will start to thrive. Good relationships and networking in business today are built from valuable contact.
In any industry and in any economy the cold call process and telephone can be your fast track to more sales and customer contact. It is a simple fact that the process of telephone prospecting will bring you more leads and market information.
So the Sales Manager tells you that you need to prospect more. He (or she) starts to focus on you and your efforts. Each night you are told to email them your call results. The sad thing is that many sales managers do not help you with the mindset behind the call process. If you can shape your thinking, the whole process is far more productive and the momentum is a lot easier.
Here are some facts for you that are likely to help your cold call and telephone prospecting processes:
- How you think has a major impact on your progress and results. In most cases the calls that you make should be to see if the other person has a need or an interest. When you really understand that fact, the efforts you make in the calls become more connecting and real.
- Base the connection you make with prospects on a conversation. Ask questions, and do not pitch. When the conversation moves forward, you can see where a meeting or more information may be helpful.
- It is OK if the person says ‘No’ to your offering. It is very easy to move on to others that may have an interest. Stop pitching your services in the call, and your connections will be more productive.
- Track your call ratios so you know when things are improving from a given set of outbound calls. Track calls out, connections made, and meetings created. Keep your call numbers up.
- You must be systemised as you contact people. Use standard forms and a database for capturing the right people. As a general rule do not enter unqualified people into your database. The only people or prospects that reach the database are those that have some relevance or interest.
- In most cases it takes about 4 telephone calls to the same person for them to allow you to set up a meeting. Spread those calls across a 3 month time frame. Eventually you should get a meeting.
- As a last resort in any call, be prepared to send out information to the people that ask for it. That being said, most contact calls are designed to generate a meeting first and foremost.
- A lot has been said about sales dialogues and telephone pitches. The reality of the situation is that the call you make and the words that you use should be in your words and conversational tone. If you try to use phrases and words that you are not comfortable with, the prospect will hear that discomfort. To get around this problem you can practice your script each morning so your conversation starts to flow.
If your market is a bit of a challenge right now, consider the prospecting processes that you currently use. Start some practice and shift your thinking as you do that. Remember that you are a sales specialist and you have valuable products and services that your market needs. Make more calls and improve your skills and focus in the process.
Human beings are creatures of habit. When we are left to our own devices we shape the day into a series of habits that suit us. Everything that we are today is the result of our application of our habits; everything else that happens to us is just luck. Given that luck is not all that frequent, the only way you can really progress is through changing your habits.
This process of habit change is easy to say and not easy to do. That is because we have choices as individuals, and if we do not discipline ourselves we tend to go down the easiest road.
Developing the habit of taking consistent and focused action towards you goals is the way to implement success in anything. So developing a habit is like training; you have to do it each day. The more you practice the better you become.
It is best to change your habits before the real pressure is on, because habits under pressure are not as effective as controlled and focused habits.
To make good habits, you must simplify the things that you do. As you simplify you can be far more effective. The way to progress here is to think of action as a muscle that you must strengthen each day. So start your action exercises.
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.