September 28, 2016
People hate being sold to. This explains why salespeople understandably find selling to new customers so daunting. It doesn’t have to be if you follow a few guidelines:
Be interesting: conversation
Cold calling is (mostly) dead. The best way to find new customers is to meet them out in the real world. Just understand that “networking” contains the word “work” for a reason. Work requires preparation. The best thing you can do to prepare for networking is to have a compelling way to explain what you do.
You will be asked. Your answer should be simple. It should leave them wanting more. It should spark conversation. The answer should give your potential new customer (or referral source) enough information to see you meeting their needs (if they need you). And, most importantly, your answer should be compelling enough that if they don’t need you, at least they want to keep talking to you.
Be more interested than you are interesting: listen
If you’re really going to win a new customer, it’s not going to happen if you do all the talking. Customers buy from you when they trust you and they think you can solve their problems. In networking situations or sales calls, the most important thing you can do to win trust is to listen.
Listen without planning what “sales-y” response you will have to the issues they face. Listen until you understand all the details of their problem.
These details include, but are not limited to:
- The problem
- How long it’s been a problem
- What the problem costs (in time, money, inconvenience, inefficiency, sanity)
- How they tried to fix it
- What happens if they don’t fix it?
Given the opportunity to explain the problem in this detail, your potential customer will get to the real emotion driving their decision on how to fix it. When they know you understand, they will ask you to sell to them.
Look in the right place: referrals
The hard way to get a new customer is to follow the steps above. The easy way is to do such a good job fixing other people’s problems that they refer you to your next customer. The key to this simplified approach is to educate your referral sales force. You need to know who they are and make it easy or valuable for them to refer you.
The easiest way to identify ‘the right place’ is to evaluate your best current referral sources and replicate them. Then reallocate marketing budget away from the sources that aren’t working and put your money behind the ones that do.
Phones not ringing off the hook? Stop Yellow pages advertising. Those thousands can be spent on improving web traffic, warm call campaigns to current referral sources…you get the idea.
So many times, we overthink, overtalk or overspend. Avoid those roadblocks and your ride to higher sales will be much smoother.
Kimble Bosworth is the President and COO of Proforma Printelligence – they stick a logo on anything that’s not breathing and their CHUM, not SWAG philosophy makes marketing rockstars out of the companies they work with. She has won awards. On Fridays, after work, she gives marketing advice to growing companies over beers at no charge. Find her on the web: www.proforma.com/printelligence/ and on Twitter and Facebook.