I find one of my clients’ biggest challenges is they don’t have a clear view of who they should be calling on to sell their products and services. Their sales teams spend a lot of time and energy calling on people who can’t or won’t buy their products. Over the past 25 years, I would guess that over 75% of sales teams time was spent calling on the wrong people. If you want a better ROI on your sales efforts you must call on the right people. Sounds simple but it’s not. It’s easier to sit in our offices and strategize and wonder why we aren’t getting the results we expect than to spend our time helping our sales team focus on the right clients.
I thought it might be helpful to share some ideas I’ve uncovered to help my teams succeed in prospecting for new clients. I was lucky to have found Brian Tracy Sales Training early in my sales career. Brian is a stickler for investing your time in better prospecting efforts. Since then I’ve received corporate sales training from many leading sales trainers and systems but find that Brian’s understanding of what makes a good prospect and how to evaluate client’s potential the best there is. I’d like to share with you what I’ve learned from Brian and how it applies in today’s changing sales terrain. I have used these guidelines for sales ranging from a few thousand dollars all the way up to deals exceeding twenty million dollars.
So what makes a good prospect and how do I qualify my prospects better so I can spend my time working with the right people? Here are several quick rules on how to find better qualified customers. If you review this information with your sales and marketing team you will be surprised how quickly results start to show up. If you leave it to chance you’re almost guaranteeing your organization will fail.
The first rule of better prospecting is to understand that not everyone is a customer for your products and services. You must spend your time with people who are a good match for what you have to offer. The key to your sales success is understanding what your offering can do for a potential customer or client, not what the sale can do for you. How often do you walk in you clients’ shoes? Do you really understand why your customers buy? Uncovering the truth of why people buy from you is critical in your long term sales success.
The second rule is to know that your customer has a pressing need for what you have to sell them. In the past, people might buy from you because they thought they might have a need for your product at a time in the future but today organizations are doing more with less and they only buy when they have a pressing need. This is one of the advantages of social media for sales professionals. It allows you to be part of your clients’ awareness on a regular basis. It also allows you to be better educated to what might be going on in your customers’ businesses. There is no reason for you not to understand what is happening on a regular basis in the lives of your clients.
The third rule is to evaluate the information you’re seeing on your clients’ businesses. So much information is available on a daily basis that many sales professionals are overwhelmed with the information they are getting. Since we are shortening our list of potential clients, we should be able to spend more time with each individual client. It is critical to invest the time to better understand your clients’ world. The number one complaint I receive from my CEO clients are the calls they get about sales professionals who are unprepared for their initial conversations with the prospective executive. In the next several weeks we will share how to better understand your clients’ world and how to apply what you know about their business to help them understand how your service will help make their businesses more successful.
The final rule is to pick clients that can buy more of your products or services. As Stephen Covey used to say begin with the end in mind. How will your offerings make the clients life better and how might you educate them to many of the other services your company has to offer. The cost of a sales call continues to rise and for many businesses the first sales are not profitable when you evaluate all that’s invested to start the relationship. It is critical to begin thinking about how else you’re going to create value beyond the initial deal.
So, given the rising cost of the average sales call, and creating value beyond the initial sale, your organization can’t afford to not focus on the right prospects in the first place and be prepared to talk to those people.
I hope this helps you pick out your best clients and customers. You can see why it’s critical to your business success to know how to pick your best clients and customers. In today’s challenging times it’s even more critical to invest your time for the best return on efforts.
Next week we will talk about how you can use online and primary research and social media to help you better serve your client’s needs.