“Post-COVID is harder to sell than ever,” a sales executive said to me recently. “It’s tough to get new business now,” said another.
It has been tough out there. Stories from ”the front” back that up. Clearly we’ve been dealing with a sales environment like nothing we’ve ever seen. But today things are looking up.
According to Selling Power magazine, sales training is more important than ever. Wilson Learning’s Counselor Salesperson consultative methodology from Strategic Enhancement Group teaches the importance of putting yourself in your prospects’ shoes to understand their buying process. It teaches to look for ways to relate to them and be in sync with them as they go through the process, answering the questions of No Trust, No Need, No Hurry and No Support. Looking at things from your buyer’s point of view provides a framework for researching potential prospects and preparing to make your calls. There are a lot of things we can do to get new business now, so here are a few tips to help you.
Look at how you use your time to more effectively target new business.
Many organizations believe that prospecting is a numbers game. Salespeople spend a great deal of time and energy trying to get one sale out of every 30 prospects, according to Wilson Learning. They take too much time keeping the pipeline so full that almost everyone is viewed as a prospect. Making enough calls is essential, of course, but prospecting is more than a numbers game. We believe that rather than focusing so much time on finding more “suspects” to put in the pipeline, salespeople should focus on better suspects and higher quality prospects. By doing this, salespeople can improve their sales ratio and have a more effective and efficient process.
Look at the big picture.
We should take the time to step back and research, analyze and strategize about our businesses. Too many of us are working IN our businesses, knee deep day-to-day, and don’t take the time to work ON our businesses.
For most of us it doesn’t make sense to try to sell to everyone, to be everything to all people. We don’t have the time or resources. Instead, ask yourself questions like these:
- Who is your ideal customer?
- Who can you help the most?
- In what niches have you had the most success?
Let me give you an example. Strategic Enhancement Group has ways to help businesses of any size and industry, even one person, to grow their sales. We’ve learned over our 37 years, though, that our best prospects are firms of a certain size. We took the time to research where we have had the most success. Drilling down further, we’ve found that we have developed a particular expertise in helping with a specific kind of sale in specific industries. Knowing that information helped us create an ideal customer profile that helps us use our time more effectively.
Not only does that help me, but it also helps articulate to those people in my network who is a good prospect for me. Networking is one of the best ways to get new business, by establishing relationships and developing your reputation as a trusted advisor that clients can count on. But your network can’t help you if you can’t concisely articulate what’s a good lead for you. That’s where your ideal customer profile comes in. You’re then able to mention target companies to your network, giving you the ability to follow up personally and on LinkedIn.
Referrals are increasingly more important in winning new business
Research shows that decision makers today rely heavily on referrals from people they trust when making purchasing decisions. They are doing more of their own research online, often only reaching out to a salesperson after they’ve narrowed down options. So you want to be on their radar before they get to that point. That’s where marketing, networking and referrals come in.
It may take you a while to feel comfortable mentioning referrals. But if you become a Counselor Salesperson, striving to be a trusted advisor who goes the extra mile and adds value, a number of clients will be open to the suggestion. Asking may feel awkward at first, but it’s a habit you’re going to want to form. Plant the seed with your customers that at some point someone may seek a referral from them in your industry, and you would appreciate being considered. Ask them who they think could benefit from what you do. And let them know you will try to do the same for them.
Invest the time to do research and prepare.
Another way I’m using my time differently to get new sales is by conducting more thorough research about new prospects. Company websites, LinkedIn and online databases are helpful tools. Research resources come in many forms, too, from trade journals to blogs, podcasts, videos, newspapers and magazines. These help me identify more leads, and when I combine that with careful vetting, I increase my chances for success.
Research shows the average salesperson spends less than 10 minutes preparing for a sales call. Don’t be the average salesperson! Invest the time to research and prepare. You’ll stand out from your competition and likely get more new business.
Additionally, time spent researching will help you uncover commonality with prospects and create bonds, making for more valuable sales conversations. Keep your clients and prospects in mind because you may read or hear things that can help them, providing added value. One of the kindest comments I’ve ever gotten in my sales career is, “Bo, I look forward to your calls because you get me information that helps my business.”
To sum it up, keep your prospect in mind and use what you have learned about them and their company to create trust in your interactions with them. The more you focus on what their issues are and what they need to solve them and less on “making the sale”, the more you can differentiate yourself and bring value that will open doors for getting more new business.