One of the most critical sales techniques you should employ when you acquire new customers or prospects is to start with a simple plan outlining what you will focus on. Most professional sales people do not enjoy spending time building sales plans. However, developing a simple plan will help ensure that you do not waste your valuable time. Many sales people are frustrated starting in a territory with new customers because they do not know where to begin and these steps will help guide you.
By starting out with a plan, you will set realistic sales goals and focus your time and attention on the most important revenue generating and relationship building activities.
There are some items you should build into your sales plan that will help you determine where to begin. The first step is to prioritize your customers or prospects. By doing so, you will determine which customers you should focus on and ultimately meet first.
There’s a tremendous amount of information available you can obtain about companies large and small and a little upfront research will go a long way. While sorting through your customer list, you should follow these important steps to gather the information to help with the process:
- Identify all pending sales opportunities and engage with those customers right away. You can get this information from others in your company that have already worked with the same customers. Establishing some quick sales will enable you to build solid relationships and jumpstart your success.
- Determine which customers are existing/former users of the products or services your company sells. Knowing the value derived from your company’s products will help you sell more and build immediate credibility for you. Additionally, you will build a list of key contacts you can call on to start prospecting for new business. It’s much easier to sell to people that have used, recommended, or approved your products, than it is to establish brand new customers. Typically, there’s a wealth of important information these people will provide to help you sell more products.
- For existing customers, develop an understanding of the high level terms of the active contracts including, products covered, renewal terms and dates, and special pricing provided. Many times, the renewal or expiration of an existing contract provides a compelling event and reason to include new products while adding additional value and revenue.
- Find out about and participate in pending service delivery projects. One of the best ways to meet new contacts and build credibility for yourself is to work with the consultants from your company that are on site delivering services to your clients and begin to engage in project status meetings. These consultants will have a wealth of information about the users of your products that you can leverage.
- Utilize the people in your company to facilitate warm and friendly introductions to key contacts they’ve previously worked with. One of the fastest ways to begin building your own relationships is to leverage others’ knowledge and prior successes and relationships instead of starting from scratch.
- Learn about the products and services that your customers provide. The products that you sell most may very well be suited for specific industries, and therefore knowing the industries your customers fall into will help with the prioritization process.
- Understand the size of each company and their budgets and financial position to help you determine which ones might by likely candidates to buy your products and services. Size can be measured by number of employees, revenue generated, or number of customers to name a few.
Once you have compiled this basic information, you can begin to dig deeper to determine which customers to focus on first. I’ll have more information on the next steps to take in my follow up post.