I recently met with an organization that was struggling with sales. I asked questions to diagnose the problem.
I asked about the company’s belief in its marketplace. I also asked about the belief its salespeople have in the company and its products as well as the salespeople’s belief in themselves. All of those things seemed OK.
Next I asked the salespeople about their activities — the stuff they do every day, every week and every month.
I got several answers, but generally what I heard was that they were not receiving as many call-ins from customers as they had previously. In response, they were making a more cold-calls.
They were calling from lists they had purchased from the Internet, Hoovers, lots of directories and even the phone book. I asked how that was working and they told me that they were having some success but nothing close to the level they needed.
Plus, they were spending so much time cold-calling, they hardly had time to spend with their existing clients.
They said existing clients don’t need a lot of follow-up. Customer service was a separate department and existing clients were taken care of quite well through that department.
Next, I did a little survey on the length of time the sales employees had been on the job. The average was seven years.
Mix of sales techniques
Cold-calling may be necessary. But to put almost all of your efforts into it is a waste of time, especially in a period of economic difficulty.
Also, cold-calling involves looking at the wrong end of the problem. Working hard is a good thing, but a mix of working smart as well as hard is a much more strategic way to go.
Existing clients are unbelievably powerful and valuable. I am shocked how often I hear salespeople say they would like to get more referrals from their existing clients but don’t. Well, whose fault is that?
You need to meet with your clients for several reasons. One of the most important reasons (besides making sure they are exceedingly happy with you and your company) is to ask them for referrals.
You need to help them help you. Tell them specifically about the types of organizations you would like to get in front of.
If you have specific people in mind, share that, too. Your clients may know them and that introduction is a heck of a lot more powerful than a cold call.
How much time are you spending with strategic alliances?
Meet with individuals solely to ask about the referrals they are seeking and to tell them about the referrals you need. They can provide you with introductions, and you can do the same for them.
I admire hard work. But it’s wise to work smart as well, using the tools you have right in front of you: other people. Mix that with your cold-calling and you will see a better return.
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