Making generalities are useful when establishing guidelines.
In general, if you work with enough business owners and managers, and review the performance of their teams, you’ll see commonalities and trends. And, speaking generally, comparable businesses in the same channel have more in common than they are different.
One of the most common of those commonalities is that their sales teams aren’t always firing on all cylinders. I often see when reviewing the performance of a sales team that they’re falling short in any of three areas, and often in some combination of all three. Believe it or not, none of those areas is closing the sale, which is less important than the other three: prospecting, qualifying and follow-up.
In order to fit salespeople into convenient little boxes, manager often define them as hunters or farmers. Hunters are the salespeople who excel at for going out, cold calling and getting new business. Farmers are salespeople who do better managing existing client relationships. Typically, salespeople tend to be more of a hunter or more of a farmer, at least in terms of where their comfort zone lies.
As anyone can tell you, just waiting for the business comes to you has limited potential. Sooner or later you have to go out and find new business. That means prospecting.
I could go on all day about how to effectively prospect, and probably will in another column but it boils down to doing the following: Your salespeople making a list of who they’re going to approach — builders, designers, architects, retail stores, whoever. Prospecting also includes tapping existing clients for referrals.
Making a list is only the beginning; now salespeople need to work that list from top to bottom. That means making every effort to meet the decision makers at those target clients and get the ball rolling with them.
The idea of properly qualifying prospective clients is often misunderstood. That means getting to know them, what they do, how they do it and as much as you can about their needs. That means not just learning what they think they need, but also uncovering hidden needs, those hot buttons that will lead to them buying something.
Last, but absolutely the most important of the three is the need to follow up with prospective clients.
No one — I don’t care who you are — closes every prospect on the first meeting. That’s why salespeople need to be proactive, and not only collect contact information from their prospects, but USE IT to follow up.
I’d like to draw your attention to this infographic:
Forty eight percent of sales people never follow up with a prospect. Not even once.
Let that sink in for a minute.
If your sales team actually reaches out a second time that puts them ahead of half of their competitors.
Not that that’s good enough (it isn’t), but if you encourage them to diligently follow up, and follow up again and again, guess what? They’ll make more sales!