You don’t have to look too far to find help on the ‘big themes’ in sales: Key accounts, questioning, listening, call planning, influence, persuasion, closing – the list goes on. These are common and enduring themes in sales training, sales books and social media articles.
And yet, there are also some very important activities in sales we can carry out that don’t fit neatly into any of these categories.
Here are 5 ideas to consider that we’ve discovered to be very effective in our client sales development programmes.
Whenever we plan a next step with a customer, asking when is convenient to call shows respect.
Agreeing a time and sending an invite via Outlook shows our self-discipline and time management.
Calling on that exact time shows our reliability and above all builds trust with customers.
This theme follows on from our “Bad language in sales” blog in April and the negative influence created when sales people make vague commitments like “I will call you in the next 2 to 3 days.”
Being precise with times and follow up is a very easy way to influence positively that costs nothing.
Whatever we sell, having the courage to find out how customers are getting on with our product / service and taking responsibility for the value they receive from them shows two things.
Firstly, that are not only interested in making a sale. Secondly, a happy customer is much more likely to be a reference and help our future sales.
The role of ‘customer success’ manager / director is becoming quite a trend now in the USA and in software business. This gives us a good clue about how sales and service are integrating in a structural way.
It’s amazing how many organisations we consult with are in the habit of working hard on a quote / proposal and send it via email and wait to hear back.
This is perhaps one of the simplest and most important aspects of sales to change. Where do customers turn to first when they receive a quote? Yes- the price! And do they read all the wonderful text we have prepared for them in the correct order?
And what happens if they have a question / objection? Rarely do we get quotes right first time, and the ability to discuss them with customers is invaluable and can substantially increase conversion rates. With virtual web meeting software readily available, there is no reason not to do it.
To become a trusted advisor who our client wants to meet with, we need to continue to add value. It’s so easy to be carried along to the next customer / opportunity / expressed need. The problem then arises that our existing solutions for existing customers start to lose relevance, impact and sharpness.
Who will take care of that deficit then? Our competitors of course!
Proactively thinking about our customer’s operations and how their industry is unfolding enables us to show them the future and lead them to it. Imagine if someone would do that for your business?
When we sell a solution, we can start to sketch out the future evolution of high performance with our customer and put dates in the diary to review that.
In this way, we ‘future proof’ our value.
One of our advantages in sales is that we often have good contact with many players in a sector and wide networks. If we keep our Linked-in network as up to date as we can, we can often alert customers to new roles, networking events, technologies and useful connections.
By proactively helping customers outside of our product / solution, we show a deep commitment and interest in them as a person which generate high levels of reciprocity.
We can recommend them on Linked-in, introduce them to one of our networks, host a network breakfast, put in a good word for them and sometimes even warn them against taking certain actions.
As Zig Ziglar put it “Stop selling, start helping”!
September is a bit like going back to school / college – it can be a great time of year to reinvent ourselves and grow. Selling is not different, to earn the badge of a professional:
By setting our standards higher than our clients, we can be sure to keep them happy!