Initial Sales Steps can make you a winner or loser with new accounts.
You must both know the correct sales steps and then do the correct sales steps. Anything less could impact your customer sales forever.
I had occasion to make a sales call with one of my consulting clients to evaluate his work and see where I could contribute. My client is launching two new businesses, a manufacturing company and a distribution company. He will be offering his product with the unique selling proposition: the premier product in quality-100% guaranteed; the lowest cost product in the market; and the same day delivery. These are powerful benefits, for sure. Can anyone turn him down? Maybe so if he does not follow the right sales steps.
The prospect we visited is using a similar product from other suppliers. We learned that the prospect also is outsourcing some work that could be brought in-house if he built up a little more volume use of the product. And, significantly, he had good relationships with a number of large customer accounts and enjoyed broad relationships with value added resellers of his products. My client was excited. Starting a new venture, he may have found his first large client; let us call him, Mr. Big Client. What sales steps do we follow to land the account?
After our sales call, we debriefed; only to realize that we did not have a clue about how this prospect should be converted into a new client. We had opened the dialogue, toured the facility, obtained a sense of the prospect and his business. We even highlighted a few areas where we could work together. Beyond that we were no closer to a customer transaction than we were when we started out that morning. Since I am the consultant and I am on board to help his sales agent(s) capture this and other new accounts, it was time for me to come up with the sales steps we needed. So, here they are.
7 Sales Steps to Open New Accounts
1.) Find out how your prospect will profit. I proposed to my client that he personally call the owner of the prospect company who we met, and discuss what the top 3 opportunities might be from is perspective. I am certain that the prospective client would not have encouraged a follow up call if he did not already have in mind some profit-making ideas. These motivating thoughts from his heart and mind are the reasons he will move ahead if satisfied. Concentrate on what is in it for him; pick the easiest and most immediate opportunity to detail out some get-started steps.
2.) Learn about the customers of your prospect. As the dialogue continues, seek information about how the prospect provides his products and services to his end customer. What is his distribution method (sales agents, etc.)? What is valuable to his customer? Can you offer an enhancement? How will his product and service sales increase as a result of using your product? Who would be the best prospects for trying new approaches? How could you work together? What low risk trials could be put together into a get-started plan?
3.) Learn about the suppliers to your prospect. Since your prospect is already purchasing in some manner a version of your offered products and services, you should investigate what he likes and dislikes about the current situation. Quality, delivery, service, price, relationships, inventory, collections, volumes, other products and synergies or leverage are all topics of interest. Dislodging this supplier(s) may be a bit of delicate surgery. It is a disruption. It will cause backlash. You need to handle things properly as you replace their current suppliers.
4.) Create new visions and opportunity. In discussion, explore with the prospect how they would like to further use your products, services, support or other things that you can bring to the relationship. What ideas did they always want to do, and how can you help? Is there some knowledge or training that you can bring to the forefront that could help their people? Is there a marketing idea or new sales method that can increase their sales? Can you better organize their purchases, inventory, and billing?
5.) Write out a specific plan for action. Most important of all, engage your prospect with the development of an action plan draft. Point out to the prospect that you are jointly creating a possible plan that could be executed if all the pieces fit together and it makes good sense and value for both parties. Think about it. A sales transaction never occurs anyway unless it benefits both sides. So, do the detail work and figure out a good strategy that pays off for both. From the draft plan, at least one good solid implementation will surface. This is the first project, first order, and first business transaction. Execute it now. Then, prove out the value and go to the next one; or revise the plan to encompass even more opportunties for the prospective client.
6.) Build the communication. During the initial sales steps, do not underestimate the need for open and frequent communication. This is a new relationship. It needs built to reach know, like and trust status. Communication by phone, by letter, by email, by text all should be used to demonstrate your full engagement; and, used multiple times, especially the phone. There will be little things that pop up: concerns, objections, etc. These need to be handled before they become problem issues and derail your efforts. Remember fixing a problem could take 10 times longer than avoiding it with good communication.
7.) Be appreciative, under-promise, and over-deliver. Deep in your own mind, become the new prospect. Think; as if you were them. What extraordinary attention and benefits would you want? Then, offer those benefits to your prospect. The success of every enterprise is a direct result of meeting the customer needs and wants. If you are to succeed, your new customer must be number one; and, you are at their service. The more excellent service you render to them, the more they will appreciate you; and purchase from you; and refer you to other opportunities.
So that is the plan I propose. Now, go find a new Mr. Big Client for yourself.
Execute the 7 Sales Steps. They will work for you, too.