In all the conversations we have with sales people recently their biggest challenge is winning new customers. So much so that many simply don’t do it and purely focus on their existing customers and hope they have built enough relationship equity for when the market picks up again. It’s a strategy – of sorts – but it’s dodging the real issue. The uncomfortable issue of ‘cold calling’. In a market where most customers are risk averse, and focused on reducing their costs, how do sellers break through this cycle?
And therein lies the rub. Whilst ever sales people see the market as ‘difficult’ and making those dreaded ‘cold calls’ there will always be something more ‘important’ to focus on. Sales people are by their nature resourceful and can always find ways of not doing the ‘unpleasant’ bits of their job.
However, given that customers are cutting back on their spending, it is those sales people who are pro-actively generating new business who will be in the most advantageous position as the market recovers. So what are those pro-active sales people doing to win new customers?
- Stop ‘cold calling’ – this is a mind-set problem; top sales people don’t do cold calling, they have conversations with people they’ve not spoken to before to establish whether they are customers who would benefit from doing business with them.
- Have a vision – top sales people have a very clear idea about what they have to offer and how it benefits their customers. They can articulate their value proposition in compelling terms. They know where they want to take their business in the long-term and which customers they want to be working with.
- Have a plan – it is essential that they have a strategic focus to whom they’re targeting; why do they want to work with this customer? Is this an organisation that is known to use their type of product/service? How would this organisation benefit by working with them?
- Have a reason for contacting them – top sales people do their research first and ensure that when they do make that first contact with a new customer; that they have something of interest to talk about, something that the customer will see as ‘insightful’ and a benefit to them.
- Use the tools available – what did sales people do before computers, spreadsheets and databases? They used index cards and diaries – that’s what! There are now many excellent tools to help sales people plan and track their activity and help to manage their pipeline. There really is no excuse now for not getting organised.