September 23, 2011 by Ken Dooley
Posted in: closing, customer loyalty, Customer service, economy, In this week's e-newsletter - Sales & Marketing, Industry Spotlight - Sales & Marketing, Latest News & Views - Sales & Marketing, Sales meeting ideas, training
Some salespeople try to come up with new techniques or strategies to survive tightening markets and shrinking budgets. But there are no new strategies that’ll replace these seven that aren’t subject to changing market conditions:
- Work against a competitor with established ties to the prospect. Try to find out how long they’ve dealt with their present supplier and who they used before the switch. What made them change? Do some research. There may be new developments, products or services that your prospects aren’t aware of.
- Win back lost accounts. Even the best salespeople lose an account now and then. They also know that if they approach their former customers properly, many will come back. They look for specific reasons why customers left. They check account records carefully to see if there were any problems with delivery or quality that went unanswered. They come up with plans to fix problems and share those plans with former customers.
- Get off to an early start. Many decision makers get to the office early before strategic gatekeepers are in place. They might just pick up their phone or answer the door if a salesperson calls early. They also have more time to listen to a sales presentation before the constant interruptions that may occur later in the day.
- Be a problem solver. Try to satisfy the customer instead of finding out whom or what caused the problem in the first place. Make sure you have all the information you need before you try to come up with a solution. Understand that how you respond to a problem makes you special in the eyes of the customer.
- Hold yourself accountable. Salespeople who take responsibility for their actions usually have the best results in sales and customer service. When their new business is down, they look within themselves instead of blaming prospects or business conditions. Some salespeople try to place blame elsewhere when their prospecting efforts fail. Top salespeople set specific goals tied to a clear system for measuring performance and take immediate actions to support their goals.
- Follow up consistently. The number one complaint customers have about salespeople is a lack of consistent follow-up after they have closed a sale. Follow-up is a great way to show customers they have made good decisions with their purchasing dollars.
- Add value, not cost. Instead of focusing on price during a sales call, break down all the ways your products can help reduce costs or increase profits. If you provide evidence that your products provide greater ROI than your competitors, a small difference in price is rarely a factor.
Adapted from the book Selling When No One is Buying by Stephan Schiffman, an author and consultant, who has trained more than 500,000 salespeople at firms such as AT&T, Chemical Bank, Manufacturer’s Hanover Trust, Motorola and U.S. Health Care.