Sales success is far more than having a good product or service and selling it at the right price says Lee Durham, managing partner at Newcastle-based sales consultancy durhamlane. It starts with some thoughtful prospecting before tough negotiations for win-win success.
Some people simply believe that having a good product or service is enough to win them sales. Maybe so, but for real long-term success, the whole sales process starts by thinking hard about the type of customers you want to work with and developing prospecting techniques that will deliver a rapid impact on your business development activity.
Despite the seemingly never ending pursuit for new sales – and customers – the best leads, and business, will more than likely come from your existing customers. Never waste an opportunity to ask your current customers who else might benefit from your products or services. A simple, perhaps even obvious thing to do but it’s the smart, top-performing sales people will be doing this. After the customer has provided a name, ask them if they will make an introduction for you.
Look for, and strike up a meaningful dialogue with those companies that are currently doing business with your closest competitors – they’ll already be in the market for what you are selling and receptive to your help when their existing supplier fails to deliver. However, bear in mind that if you’re doing it to your competitors, then if they’re smart, they’ll be doing it to you - so make sure you’re taking care of business by looking after your existing customers.
Network with your current customers to make sure as many people as possible within the company know who you are and importantly, what you do for them. Prospects can also come via industry trade associations - people who serve on industry boards or are visible in their industry are open to new ideas - or the editors of trade magazines who are often asked to recommend a good supplier. This people can all create potential prospects for you so don’t pass up the opportunity to develop beneficial relationships with them.
Now, once that important sales lead has been secure, it’s vital to continue the hard work as you look to convert it into a tangible and profitable piece of business. Here, you will need to understand that effective sales negotiation is an on-going activity that starts with you thinking win-win right from the very first meeting. If you approach every prospect or client interaction from this perspective you are more likely to create solutions that solve real problems and add real value. This approach will also create a smoother ride for all concerned in terms of constructing the deal and sign-off since you and your customer will be on the same wavelength.
Think; then think differently. The more preparation and planning that goes into how a deal is constructed the more chance you have of creating value and win-win success - the net effect of this is a customer who is purchasing something they believe in and they will be less attuned to ‘bartering’. Think outside the box in terms of what else can form part of the deal and build lists of items that can be traded or mixed into the solution to differentiate yourself from your competition. What can you give away easily that’s high value to your customer and vice-versa?
And finally, a couple of things to bear in mind as you look to close the deal: apparently 80% of concessions are made in the last 20% of the time spent negotiating and (supposedly) procurement teams get way more training than sales teams.
By Lee Durham, Manging Partner, durhamlane, a sales performance specialist, which helps companies become more commercial by improving the performance of their people and by managing outsourced sales campaigns on their behalf – creating new business opportunities