Do your homework – because your customers certainly will.
Sales has changed dramatically since the ‘good old days’ of Glengarry Glen Ross, that famous movie in which the sales executives fought over the best inbound sales enquiries & leads in order to keep their jobs.
Once upon a time, hard work, call volumes and door-knocking were guaranteed to yield positive results. Married, with sales skills and a sprinkling of panache and you were almost certainly a winning salesman (for they were all men back then!).
Today it is very different. Quite often, by the time you get your foot in the door, your client knows more about your products than you do. And they’ve already made a decision. One hour on Google, two minutes reading Trustpilot, then 5 minutes downloading your technical manual and bingo – they’ve made a decision!
So catch up. You need to do a similar level of homework on your prospects as they have almost certainly done on your organisation.
Number one. Cold calling. It’s no good being ‘Captain Positive’, all full of energy and sunshine. Nope. You have less than 10 seconds to engage with a new prospect so ‘Captain Positive’ has to have something interesting at the tip of their tongue: something born out of research about their business, market place, current trading conditions – something that the client had not thought about.
Number two. Revisiting a prospect or existing client. This is where proper use of your CRM is essential. You must have read all previous notes so that you can recall exactly where you left the last conversation – because the customer will certainly not remember. Most importantly, you must be able to recall and resell the reasons why they chose you, or why they were interested in the first place. Never bounce back into a conversation and assume they remember anything about you.
Number three. Key account management. Great KAMs both keep and grow their clients. This is not just a case of good customer service but in-depth studying of the core client base. No, we are not talking about taking them out to lunch twice a year. I mean setting time aside each month to monitor their website, product line, press releases (this bit is essential), even pulling their annual accounts to see how well they are doing. Annual accounts are great for steering reunions. Is there more business to be had? Should you be prepared for a price challenge? Is there a new opportunity/idea you can share?
So, in the old days of Glengarry Glen Ross, the sales executives may have dressed like a private eye but today, you must act like a private eye. Do your detective work. Even when a sales lead drops into your inbox titled “I’d like to buy 8 please…”, don’t just pick up the phone and sell 8. Check them out first and see if 8 is really enough!