Recently, we spoke about 45 ways you can become a better salesperson. For the next few weeks, I’d like to focus on a few of those tips and go into them in more detail. This week, I want to take a closer look at number 10 Be resourceful.
There are so many resources available to salespeople today that it can seem a little overwhelming. To simplify things and to give you a little inpsiration, we’ll discuss using four great resources to put you at the top of the sales game:
1 – technology
2 – networking
3 – collaboration
4 – creative thinking.
The daily sales grind
Get to the office at 7h00, answer a bunch of emails. Get your list of daily cold calls together and start calling them at 9h05. Break at noon for lunch, to answer a bunch more emails, and to make sure all the appointments are in your planner. Go visit a few clients in the afternoon and do your pitch five or six times. Back to the office to fill in the orders. Make a few more calls if you can.
Sound familiar? Yup, it’s the old, traditional way of grinding out sales, still applied in millions of offices across the world every single day. But surely, with all the tech we have available to use, we can do better? There have to be other ways to make more effective sales and do better after sales service.
1 – Tech it up a notch
Previously, I mentioned using Skype to schedule meetings with clients who are out of town, in a different time zone, on a whole other continent… no matter how technologically advanced we become, people like a good face-to-face conversation before they start making decisions and with the globalization of business, sometimes, a good Skype call makes all the difference. But Skype isn’t the only resource you can use.
It’s astonishing to me how many people just don’t use social media as a sales tool. Sure, your company marketing department has a Facebook page and maybe a Twitter account, but what about you? Bear in mind that social media is a two-way street – you’re not only using it to drop mini-sales pitches, you can use it to great effect by getting involved in the conversations your prospective clients are having. Follow the people you want to sell to on social media; retweet them and comment on their status updates; join their LinkedIn groups and contribute – don’t just be a passive follower.
Google them. Sound obvious? It should. Knowing what your prospective client not only does, but also what their market position is, what values they hold dear, who their executives are, whether they’ve just dropped billions on a sustainability project, and on and on, will help you make a better sales pitch.
2 – Networking
Ever heard the expression “More deals are done on the golf course than in the boardroom”? Well, while not everyone has the time to go and play eighteen holes with you, the basic principle still stands. Get your prospective clients outside the office, give them a moment to enjoy something other than work, work, work, and have their captive attention. For goodness’ sake, make it good though! Don’t just have a breakfast, have a breakfast with an interesting, relevant and current talk by an engaging expert; go ahead and have that golf day, but make it a charitable event. Give them a reason to come that isn’t just “I want to pitch my product to you.”
Get to know your contemporaries, as well . Whatever your product or service, there are companies out there that sell a related, non-competing product or service. By getting to know these people, you could increase your customer base of clients who are already halfway sold on your product. You can join forces on those social events, or even double-team your sales pitches.
3 – Collaboration
Use the people in your organization who can help you – and that includes other salespeople. I used to know a pair of women who would do all their selling together, and share each sale. One of them was amazing at pitching – she could really paint a picture, engage an audience and show them how the product could genuinely improve their business – but lacked the resolve to close the sale; her partner, on the other hand, had zero qualms about closing, and closing hard. The technique worked like a charm for them.
Now, I’m not saying replicate this exactly, but knowing where your strengths and weaknesses are, and who in your team can complement those with their own strengths and weaknesses, can help both of you make sales that otherwise would have fizzled.
4 – Get creative
Ok, I’m going to admit, this can be a tough one. Saying “get creative” is easier than doing it. After all, as soon as someone has done something new and exciting, doing the same thing becomes copying and, therefore, not all that creative. So, again, use the people you have at your disposal. If your company has an in-house creative team, sit down with a designer and a copywriter to brainstorm some ideas. The ideas don’t necessarily have to be marketing-related, but they could be – a creative direct mailer, for example, or a brilliantly written personal letter. Either way, these people are tuned in to coming up with creative ideas every single day, so between you, you should be able to think up something.
When it comes to creative ideas that someone else has already done, that doesn’t mean it’s done and dead. You can take inspiration from it, use the concept behind it to come up with your own idea, or adjust it to suit you. And don’t be afraid to go completely off the wall with ideas, either. Your “using a Ninja to drop off bento boxes with personalized invitations to an event” idea may feel ridiculous, but that doesn’t mean it’s not going to work.
Try to come up with at least three good, useable ideas each time. You don’t have to use all three, but it gives you options. My suggestion is, try to come up with one safe idea, one interesting and unusual idea and one seemingly ridiculous idea. Bear in mind that not every client is the same and – because you did all that Googling earlier – you’re going to know which of the three ideas will work for which client.
Making the effort
Using the resources available to you can be as simple or as complex as you want to make it. Believe me when I say this just scratches the surface of the resources available to you to make better and more effective sales. That’s why you need to research. Take half an hour every day to read up on what other salespeople are doing, what companies have made a big splash with their advertising and marketing, what techniques are working for people in your and other industries. Knowledge is, at the end of the day, power, and it’s probably one of the most important resources available to you.
The big difference-maker is making the effort. Clients want to feel that companies they do business with are in touch with what’s happening around them and aren’t afraid to try new ways to do things. If a prospective client can see that you made the effort to get to know them, are willing to accommodate them and are able to think of creative solutions to problems, they are more likely to be open to your sales pitch.