Killer “Be’s” Make Sales
When I picked up the phone, an excited voice said, “Emily, I just landed a huge account. I can’t believe it!”
My friend continued, “Competition was fierce. I knew my proposal wasn’t the lowest price offered, so I asked my new client why he decided to award his business to me. He said he gave me the order because several months ago I had sent him an article from the Wall Street Journal. The article discussed what businesses like his, an independent grocery store chain, can do to survive in a break-neck competitive environment. He said I had offered him more value in my courting relationship with him than his present supplier had under contract. Wow, that value-added, low-profile visibility contact really works!”
Low-profile visibility contact, what’s that? There are four fundamental low-key sales principles, when used continuously, that enable you take business away from the competition. They are the four killer (sales) “be’s”:
Be unforgettable. What are you doing to make yourself memorable to your best clients and prospects? Sending articles pertinent to their business as my client did, being visible at industry events, and having a pre-planned schedule of courtesy calls on your calendar can make the difference when your proposal is in a dead heat with your competition.
One of my clients created an Excel spreadsheet listing her clients and hot prospects in the left column and the months of the year across the top. She has entered in the trade shows, account service commitments, mailings to send (including newsletters and birthday cards), and phone contacts for each month for the year. She carries the chart with her and looks over it frequently to remind herself whom she can drop in to see or what special something she can do to enhance their business or personal lives.
Be believable. One of the top reasons prospects award their business to particular vendors is the high level of trust they have for the sales person. When the trust relationship continues, the business relationship does also.
Consultative selling is what will differentiate you from the competition. Assessing the clients’ individual needs and giving them sound advise, even if it means not getting the sale (this time), is the highest form of salesmanship. We all like to think our product or service is suffering from the stiffest competition in the land. With technology, people’s preferences and company strategies are changing quickly and dramatically. It’s just a matter of time until the market situation changes for you and your product or service. If you always give your prospects and clients sound, honest advice to help them in their businesses, in the long term your sales success day will come.
Be dependable. This is such a basic selling point, but when ignored it can undermine all other sales efforts. Be sure all phone calls, voice mail messages, and e-mail messages are returned and acknowledged in a timely manner. Twenty-four hours is the longest someone should have to wait for a response. Follow through when you say you will. Most sales are made after the fourth prospect contact. What this means is that it may take ten attempts to reach your prospect to make these four contacts. Don’t give up! A good automated contact management system will keep your contact calls on track. These reminders, when heeded, will gently encourage you to make that call. I can’t remember all the times I wanted to stop calling a prospect, yet decided to make that call because of my contact management system alarm feature. When I heard the prospect say “I was just thinking about you,” I knew it had been wise to put those doubts aside. Perseverance and dependability also demonstrate to the prospect how you will handle his or her business after the sale.
Be approachable. What is your image in the minds of your prospects and clients? This trait can be hard to self-assess. One of my clients shared with me that they just placed a large piece of business with one of their companies, who met their unique specifications, but were put off by the arrogant selling attitude of the firm. When the market shifts, my client may move that business unless the vendor changes his attitude.
Don’t assume your client knows of your regard for his business. Do whatever it takes for you to appreciate the hurdles your clients face in their industries, then show your concern. Commiserate with their challenges and share their successes. Not only will you retain their business, you will receive referrals and earn a good reputation in your own industry.
Be unforgettable, believable, dependable, and approachable to achieve the sales success you desire. Are you able to incorporate these principles into your sales philosophy? Or is the competition still stinging you?
Emily Huling Selling Strategies, Inc. P.O. Box 200 Terrell, NC 28682
Phone: 888-309-8802 Fax: 888-309-7355