Early in the first quarter is the time to focus on building our pipelines to achieve, or even overachieve, our sales goals in 2017. This requires us to market to generate opportunities, nurture current leads, attract new buyers, capture web visitors and drip content to potential buyers, presumably, until they are ready to buy!
In today’s omni-channel world, some organizations have developed sophisticated processes to create opportunities. Yet, even with all that technology and process, most sales reps are expected to cultivate their own leads and grow their territory organically. Organic business development will come from two different channels:
- Can you sell more to your existing customers or clients?
- Can you find new companies and individuals in your territory to convert to paying customers?
To elaborate on these two areas, let me change perspective from sales executive to business executive. As the CEO of ValueSelling, I think about when and why I am enticed to take a call from a sales rep that is vying for my time.
I meet with sales reps from companies where I am already a customer.
Land and Expand. Many of you have existing clients that can be buying more from you. The easiest people to create new opportunities with are those who have already decided to do business with you. What is your engagement level with your current base? Every time you speak with an existing client, probe for change. Identify new needs by being interested in the client and their business. Create need by uncovering additional problems that they could solve by expanding their relationship with you and your company.
I meet with people that are introduced to me via an existing relationship.
Ask for referrals. When you are speaking with your existing customers, ask for referrals. I have a client who asks every client for introductions to others who might benefit from his services. Referrals are great, and introductions are even better. Make it a habit to end meetings with a simple question, “Do you know of anyone else who might benefit from this type of a solution?” When the answer is, “Yes,” follow up with, “Can you introduce me?” Introductions are always better than names. A referral that leads to an introduction is one of the best ways to warm up, what otherwise would be, a cold call.
I meet with people who contact me to talk about a topic that I already care about.
Timing is everything! There have been times when I am asked to meet with a sales rep who just happens to have something I have already identified I need. If I am contacted at that time, I will likely agree to meet. There is no way for a sales rep to know this. Yet, once I do meet with them, I often find that they have reached out to me a number of times. The lesson for sales reps is to keep going. Keep trying. Be respectful in your campaigns, but also persistent because things change every day. Your message and request may not resonate with me today, but who knows? It might just resonate in thirty days.
I never meet with sales reps who are trying to “trick” me, or my team members, into a meeting!
Typically I don’t like to use extreme adjectives. Never and always just don’t seem to ring true. When I hear those words, I immediately want to find the exception. But I can assure you, I am never interested in doing business with someone who uses misleading tactics. Here is an example of what seems to be a trend of tricking a prospect into a meeting.
A call recently came into our office. I wasn’t available and the person asked to leave a message. The message read: Sara returned your call. Please call her back at your earliest convenience. And it included a phone number. I couldn’t recall reaching out to anyone named Sara, but assumed the message was correct. I called her back. She was a sales rep. She was not returning my call. She was cold calling. Now on one hand, you could argue she got me to call her back. On the other hand, she then wanted to engage me in a conversation. She wanted me to trust that she had my best interest in mind and could add value to my business. That call did not last long. Value-added, trust-based relationships are rarely built on deceit and trickery.
As sales reps, how can we think like a business executive to increase the likelihood of getting a meeting? This thought process is the first step in any organic opportunity development. We can turn these truisms into results if we approach prospecting with some discipline.
Sell with Value!