When it comes to working in sales, albeit in any industry, it is essential that you have a solid and reliable prospecting model established at a personal level. That will be something that works for you and you can commit to every working day.
The reason why prospecting and networking has to occur every day is simply that consistency builds results. Lack of call and contact consistency tends to ‘reset the numbers’ and you lose ground on all the efforts and things that you may already have done.
Here are some top tips to help you get your system up and running:
- One of the most important parts of prospecting and networking is to create a habit in your business diary. A regular habit of prospecting and networking will take you forward in the marketplace. That being said, it takes quite some time to modify your business skills and habits. That can be some weeks of deliberate prospecting effort of before you accept the requirement to do the job in that way.
- Focus on just a few prospecting activities but make them quite effective and consistent. I go back to the point that consistency will be critical to the results that you achieve. Like it or not, the cold calling process will be part of your prospecting model. Reach out to new people every day through fresh telephone calls, direct letters, and door knocking. Use your business card as an affective and timeless business tool.
- The prospecting process is not a sales pitch. It is a communication between two people to establish common ground and potential interest. When the client or prospect appreciates your knowledge and skills, the chances of new business escalate. It is just a matter of maintaining contact over time and waiting for the right opportunities to arise.
- Every prospecting call should be focused on the opportunity of a meeting. Meetings build relationships, and relationships lead to potential transactions, agreements, and contracts.
- Provide valuable market information and resource updates to your clients and prospects. At every opportunity and certainly on a regular basis send out product and service updates. Follow-up that information with a telephone call or meeting. Most of the business you create will be through a personal relationship built over the long term with the right people.
- 6. Practice your dialogue for presentations and prospecting. At every opportunity refine the words that you use and the phrases that relate to your product or service. Regular practice will help you with your conversions in prospecting.
It is not difficult to rise the top of any industry as a top salesperson. It is simply a matter of determining the right processes to support your actions and activities. From that point onwards, you repeat the process is every day and consistently grow your client or prospect database.
A clear advantage here is that most salespeople do not have the commitment to do the work required in prospecting and networking. That leaves the marketplace wide open for those quality salespeople that can get their industry and focus under control.
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 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.
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.
In this business environment some companies and industries will be more successful than others, but it is the sales team and customer service team that are now more important than ever before. Consistency in client contact will help consolidate market share and protect your income.
If your business is struggling in any way, take a look at your sales team first to see just what they are doing or not doing. Too many salespeople listen to their peers when it comes to results and activities. If you have any ordinary performers in your sales team it can spread like a ‘cancer’ in and across the entire team. Complacency breeds complacency; top performers are required in today’s sales environment.
When you are not getting your share of the market and the sales, here are the things that you should look at first:
- Split your sales team into high achievers and average performers. Determine who is producing the sales and the orders and find out why that is the case. The balance of the team will be doing a mixture of ‘nothing much’. When you know the differences in your team you can handle the issues of skills improvement, redundancy, repositioning, and refocus.
- When your industry is slow or under pressure, it is the systemised action of your top people that will get you through. It is likely that your top people will be less than 10% of the workforce. Replicate the systems that work into the balance of the team. Those that can’t handle the change should be reallocated or made redundant. Experimental salespeople do not work.
- Split your customers into 3 groups. Firstly your top clients should be determined and allocated into a VIP section of your business. They should get better treatment and service than all other clients. The second group of customers are those that have the potential to move to a Key Account status. You job is to find out how to do that and why it should occur with each customer in this group. The third group are those customers that randomly purchase goods or services and that are unlikely to move up the client pipeline status to a Key Account. If you are going to remove the poor performers from your sales team, then you can drop the third group of customers to free up some time for the remaining salespeople.
- Get your prospecting model sorted and strengthened with your top salespeople. Use the best systems and ideas that they have to consolidate the prospecting system for your business and local area.
This is all about strategy. Focus on your people and the business will generally come in, albeit in a modified form. Business is all about people so go back the people level and sort it through. Opportunities will soon come back to you and the sales team.