The more business owners, sales managers and sales people I either talk to or consult with, the more I hear how much they want to see more sales being made, at higher values with on-going repeat business.
When asked what processes have been put in place, the usual response I hear is that there salespeople are not closing as often as they would like them to – in other words, in their mind it’s all about getting more out of their salespeople – and they might be right. But this being the case, how do you get more, and more, and even more from the same salespeople? To me, it might be possible, but I think it’s asking too much. Let me explain.
Whenever, I hear something like this, or something similar to this, I usually ask how their competition is doing in the same territories they work. Often I am told about one competitor that seems to be swamping the market, and over time they have noticed that they have been outsold by that company more often than they would have liked.
Here’s how I would usually address most situations similar to the one mentioned here. I also go to great lengths to state that by adopting these ideas will not be an overnight fix for the challenge at hand, but if properly researched, evaluated, replanned with the help of the sales-force so that their salespeople can take personal ownership of the changes to be made, they should see a marked change within the first two to three months.
My suggestions to them would be something along these lines . . .
Use Leverage based on your Strengths
Learn to play off your strongest attributes while you focus on your strengths. This is an extremely important selling and marketing tool.
Most competitors focus so hard on the weaknesses of the opposition, they overlook their own strengths. Others, who know about sales and marketing concepts and ideas can also fall into the same trap. While they spend time focusing on improving on the weaknesses of their opposition, chances are could also overlook their own strengths.
Leveraging from your strengths will help the consumer understand what you stand for and why you seem to be better than the competition. But the most important point to consider here is, only promote the strengths that your customer would identify as meaningful and relevant to them. If you don’t, you’ll be spending your money telling an audience what you can do for others rather than selling your target market how you can be of help to them. And that’s perhaps the best way of explaining the difference between good marketing verses good advertising.
Piggy-Back on your Existing Market
Most direct selling organizations, especially the ones that rely on a customer base that can be phoned or mailed on a regular basis, cannot run a successful direct selling business if they’re constantly having to find new customers. It’s too expensive.
The best way to grow this market is to nurture your existing customers. If worked properly, your existing customer list should generate a three to five times better response than a prospect list. Prospects list play a valuable role in any business that needs them.
Most direct marketers can grow faster and more profitably if they only used the prospect list for what it was originally intended for – to find new business. Existing lists should provide enough information to target existing customers more effectively and entice them into buying more – even its only through discounts, special prices, promotions and the like.
Growth Categories Will Divide to become two or more Categories
Just have a look at what’s happened in the computer industry in just a short few decades. Now the industry has divided itself into a series of alternatives. No longer do we just have computers, we now have PC’s, mainframes, microcomputers, supercomputers, fault-tolerant computers, workstations and so on.
The insiders have been marketing the concept of creating new categories for as long as the industry has been around. Now watch this same process emerge as the computer software industry begins to grow faster than ever before.
That’s not to say that computer software has not already become larger than the industry that supports it. Many inside the industry believe it already has, and by a very sizeable margin.
Why not Focus on, or Add-on a Smaller Market Segment?
For every new trend, there is at least one new counter-trend. Therefore, the small business proprietor is usually better to focus on the smaller factor – the one most others aren’t prepared to service – simply because most of your competition are positioning themselves for a slice of a much larger market. In many ways this sounds like a contradiction on what already works well, but its not.
Many larger small business operators did just this, they began their growth in precisely this manner, by giving good service to the segments of the markets the others didn’t want. The bigger they grow, the more they concentrated on what others weren’t doing, while at all times, working on the best ways of positioning themselves for a much larger slice of larger market-place they weren’t currently involved in.
The longer you allow yourself to keep this cycle going, the more prominent you can become. But remember, you’ll have to keep the cycle going anyway just to maintain your existing growth – so why not go for a stab at the bigger pie whenever the opportunity presents itself – it won’t cost you any more than time and careful planning?
Rethink Your Ideas on Delivery
If you realise that no delivery channel is sacred any more, you’ll avoid both disappointment that results from being let down by others, and by paying more for a service than you really have to or for other specific services to suit specific times. These are the two areas more business have been let down in far more times than they would like to recall.
In today’s economic environment, many of your competitors are bypassing existing channels – and you should be doing likewise – because that’s the way the market operates today. If you’re not, how can you stay ahead of the pack?
The way the market is today, you should be searching out as many strategic marketing alliances as possible. That way, you’ll be able to better diversify your ability to meet the changing face of your customer demand and face competitive pressures with greater resilience.
Apply an Assortment Arsenal
There isn’t just the one weapon that should be used to attract a new prospect, or even keep an existing client coming back. You should consider using an assortment of weapons – a large assortment, and then try to only bring out the best ones to suit an appropriate occasion.
To establish the best sales or marketing weapon for each of the occasions you’ll need to use one, and especially to find one especially tailored to suit your business or the way you do your selling, and it will take time and careful planning, then thereafter it will need careful monitoring. After that you’ll even more careful monitoring, and more planning, and even more on-going trials and further monitoring.
In the long run, no matter how much effort you put in, if you carefully plan and monitor it, you won’t be disappointed. That’s what both sales and marketing are about.
These days you’ll need to add one more ingredient to an already successful formula – you’ll even need to feel comfortable using a variety of new technology. But the best part is, the better you can use the wider selection of these sales and marketing based weapons available to you, the wider the grin on your face when it comes to review the effect of your work on your profits.
Call on the Local Chamber of Commerce
This organisation can help you in more areas than most people would think. They can provide you with information on so many of the local and other professionals that specialise in the areas you want help in. Often times they will arrange for you to meet with some of the “locals” that might even open doors for you that you never thought existed.
They understand the demographical make-up of a region, or they can easily put you onto someone who does. They can even help put you in touch with a close by advertising agent, marketing expert, graphic designer, specialist printer and so on.
Say if you’re even considering doing business with a certain company, you can ask if they belong to a local chamber, if not, you can always ask if they’ve heard of them. Most will give you an honest answer. Most Chambers of Commerce can also put you in touch with other chambers in other localities, cities and states.
Get Wise Counsel as Assurance Not as a Form of Insurance
Far too many business proprietors and managers tend to get good advice as a form of insurance to help with the future potential and growth of their business. In most cases this approach is usually the wrong one. Whenever you seek advice whether from someone you respect, or pay for it via a consultant, you’re only getting advice to confirm that you’re thinking the way the experts would.
It’s your assurance that you’re thinking of, focusing on, moving towards will ultimately head in the right direction in what you’re intending to do. But remember, if you fail in that undertaking, no-one else will take the blame for it. Wise counsel can only ever be considered your assurance at that point in time. If you change your mind, you might need to consider insurance – bad decision insurance. And I’d like a quote or two on that insurance, I think we all would.
And Be Aware of Negative Market Influences
It has been said that good news travels slowly and bad news can overtake a bush-fire that’s gone out of control. To avoid any of the normal negative repercussions that can affect a business, make sure you deal with all your customers in good faith with the utmost of integrity.
Far too often negative word-of-mouth can cripple a business much faster than positive public relations can grow it. Therefore, don’t just keep your ear to the ground, go out of your way to talk to all your customers on a regular basis – and be sure to ask the hard questions in order to get the replies you need to hear, not just the ones you want to hear.
This Article is by Peter Collins – In a sales career spanning more than 50 years, Peter Collins has focused on helping and bringing out the best in others – whether it involves training or mentoring salespeople, managers, business consulting to SME’s. Since the 1970’s Peter has built a reputation as a Nationally and Internationally Published author, and has 65 books to his credit, but he is mainly known for one book based on the Audio Tape series of the same name, Over 50 Ways of Closing the Sale. In his personal life, Peter has been sought after as an encourager and motivator that has given of his time and talents freely despite his busy schedule. Subsequently, he has assisted churches, pastors, community and charity groups, as well as individuals through his teaching, training, development and on-going mentoring.
Peter can be contacted through his website – profitmakersales.com