by Jill Konrath (www.jillkonrath.com)
Want to take your business to the next level? If so, take these actions. They’re guaranteed to make a difference in your sales results.
1. Clarify your value proposition
Strong value propositions are essential for getting in to see the corporate buyer. Make sure you can clearly articulate the business outcomes customers get as a result of using your product or service.
Be precise – numbers, percentages and time frames make your value proposition even stronger.
2. Target a specific market segment
Don’t chase every available opportunity. Focus. Focus. Focus. Increase your knowledge and expertise in a particular market segment.
Learn as much as you can about their business needs, terminology, issues and marketplace trends. This significantly increases your client desirability.
3. Prepare Ad Infinitum
Today’s customers suffer no fools. Unprepared sellers are quickly escorted out the door. Before you meet with any new prospect, research their business.
Read their annual report, check out their website, interview their clients, and review analyst’s reports. Find out what’s important to them, their challenges, goals, and strategic imperatives.
4. Create Seductive Ideas
Use your brain and think for your prospective and existing customers. They’re so busy putting out fires; they lack time for problem-solving, strategic thinking, creative alternatives or even reflection.
A seller who consistently brings business ideas to the relationship becomes indispensable – winning contracts with minimal competition and at full dollar value.
5. Slow Down, Lean Back
Don’t try to rush sales – even if you’re desperate. Customers feel your push and immediately erect a wall of resistance. On first sales calls do NOT lean forward.
To maintain a consultative approach you must LEAN BACK. The minute you lean forward, you’re “selling” – trying to get your customer to buy. Lean back. Slow down. And you’ll get the business sooner.
6. Pursue Quality, not Quantity
Make fewer sales calls – but much better ones. Focus all your efforts on preparing for the call. Determine the logical next step for each meeting. Then, working backwards, think about what you need to do to make this outcome a reality.
Test every idea you come up with from your customer’s perspective. Think: If I said or did this, how would my customer interpret it or react? Only their perception is important – not what you meant. Make your changes before the call to increase your success.
7. Minimize Opportunity Leakage
Unless customers can explicitly state the business value of your offering in concrete terms your opportunity can easily evaporate into thin air – even if they appear highly interested.
To increase your order rate, ask questions such as: Why would this help you? What value would you get from this service? What are the primary benefits you would realize from my product/service? This cements the value in their brain.
8. Make Follow-up Meetings Concrete
Don’t ever leave a meeting without scheduling your next one – or you may never catch up with your customer again. They’re running from meeting-to-meeting, busy handling way too many projects.
The longer it takes to reschedule, the more their desire for your offering fades. Get the meeting on both your calendars now – even if it’s just to talk on the phone.
9. Always Debrief Your Sales Calls
This is the only way you can get better. Ask yourself: a) what went well? b) where did I run into problems? and c) what could I do next time to get even better results?
This is absolutely the only way you will improve. Sales is a grand experiment – customers change, markets change, your offerings change, and so does your knowledge base. Unless you’re continually learning, you’re losing ground.
10. Reframe Your Attitude
Stop blaming the economy or anything else for your problems. There are many things totally within your control. Approach all tough sales situations with a “what’s possible” or “how can I?” mindset. If you’re stuck, brainstorm with friends or colleagues.
Accept 100% responsibility for your sales success and continually be on the lookout for creative approaches to take your business to the next level.