The best customers are a pleasure to work with. They bring you good profit margins, are appreciative of your service, pay you on time, and collaborate with you to produce a perfect customer experience.
But you can’t just sit there and wait for people to buy from you - You have to make it happen.
People do business with people they know, like and trust – if your potential clients know, like and trust you, there is a good chance they will buy from you.
There are several steps you need to take to make this process happen:
1. Decide your target market
Choose which group of people want to buy your product or service the most. It is unlikely this niche will include everyone – start with the type of client you really want. Be careful with your definition and ask yourself – “could I find these people in a directory?” because you need to be able to make contact with this group, describe them to referral partners and have an idea where they do their networking. It’s fine if someone outside this niche comes along, but the objective at this stage is to fill the sales pipeline, so first of all decide how you customers can be grouped together.
Here are some ways to define your customer group:
2. Build your sales pipeline
Building up a prospective client list is an ongoing process. Make a list of the names, phone numbers and email address of people who might become customers, and a seperate list for people who could refer the right customers to you. The best contacts are decision makers – people who have the money, the authority and the need (MAN).
3. Be specific about what you do
Describe clearly the product or service that you offer – focus on benefits to the customer, not features. Tell people why you are unique and why they should buy from you and not someone else. Use words that people in your customer group will relate to, and describe the problems you can help them solve.
3. Make contact
There are six main ways to make contact with prospective clients:
3.1. Contact them directly
By phone, face to face, or email. Make this as personal as possible by mentioning something that gets your contact’s attention.
You can network by phone, online or in person. Get to know people who are in contact with your target market.
3.3. Presentations and Workshops
Find an organised group and give a talk to them. Most conferences need speakers.
3.4. Publicity and writing articles
Many blogs and websites are a good place to start – This is a great way to build up credibility rather than the Know, Like and trust requirements. Get some help if you are not a good writer.
3.5. Promotional events
Participating in a trade show can be expensive – but at least your audience is coming to you. The smaller, more local exhibitions can be better value. You can also give demonstrations and workshops via the Web.
Advertisements do not allow clients to get to know, like or trust you, but sometimes a website or brochure can be a good source of leads. You need to follow-up to make this work.
If you don’t follow-up you will have a huge pipeline but no sales. Contacting prospective clients directly is the beat method of following up – it moves the relationship forward. Remember to add value in your follow up call, it’s another chance to demonstrate your expertise. This is the most important step in the sales cycle.
5. Make a proposal
You have a full pipeline and are regularly following up on your contacts – so you are talking to the right people. Next you need to find out what your prospect is concerned about and how you can solve their problem. But before describing what you can do – ask them about their situation. You need to establish rapport and ask open questions rather than those that can be answered with a yes or a no.
Show that you fully understand the specific problem by summarising and paraphrasing what they have said – ask the prospect to describe the implications of not getting the problem solved quickly – what impact does it have on the business? By building up the weight of the problem you make your proposed solution an important priority.
6. Close the Sale
Now you have lots of contacts. You are spending your time talking to the right people about their specific problems. They are telling you what will happen if they do not find a solution.
They know, like and trust you and you have told them how you can help - for example by using specific examples of how you have helped others.
Whatever your prospective client says next will tell you how close you are to making a sale.
If you don’t get the order now (there's usually a 1 in 3 chance) - agree completely with what your prospect says. This is an unsatisfied need – so explain how you can meet it.
When you know you have made contact with a prospect who needs your service, knows what you can do and trusts you to do it – keep following up.
Be friendly, considerate and professional.
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