Economic pressures, tightening budgets and political uncertainty are current realities. And yet, you can realistically aspire to grow year-on-year sales in 2019 by acknowledging unchanging truths and being willing to do the basics well.
Regardless of the various pressures we deal with, the fact remains that customers need things, services and experiences, and if you offer these best you will have much to celebrate by next Christmas. The question isn’t “Is there opportunity?” but “Am I willing to do what it takes to meet that opportunity?”
Here are 5 simple ways to remain competitive and grow your business in the year ahead:
1. Care for existing customers
Don’t be so obsessed with ‘new business’ that you neglect existing relationships. Growing your sales begins with a commitment to your current customers.
Firstly, it ensures that you’re not losing customers to competitors. Secondly, it’s much easier to upsell a customer who has already incorporated aspects of your services into their business structures and consider you a trusted partner. Thirdly, word-of-mouth marketing via satisfied, existing customers often carry much more weight and is more effective than the voice of the business trying to sell a product or service, and thus more effective in getting new customers on board.
Ask questions, listen to their concerns and try to understand their needs. Partner with them as they seek to overcome obstacles that prevent their business from growing.
2. Identify most promising potential customers
Focus your time and energy primarily on those leads most likely to become customers.
Who is the person or business most likely to buy your product or acquire your services? Draw up a potential buyer persona. Be specific: How old are they? Are they male or female? Which industry are they in? What are the most pressing questions their business face? What are their hobbies?
How do you know who they are? See point 1 above. You are already successfully satisfying certain customer needs and have existing references to include in your sales pitch.
3. Ask yourself: what benefits am I selling?
Sometimes we get so comfortable with the pitch that we forget what we’re really selling. Whenever you find yourself simply going through the motions, you may find that you’re merely trying to sell a product or get someone to acquire your services. But those things aren’t what people are interested in buying.
People don’t buy products or services but the benefits that result from those products or services.
Emotional connection with the impact, result or outcome of using a product is critical to any sales process. Help your current and potential customers imagine a world involving your product or service, and how much easier, better, more productive or profitable that world will be.
4. Sell Yourself
“Customers first buy the rep, then they buy the brand, and only then do they buy the actual products,” emphasises Triangle Lubricants sales manager, Christoff Sonnekus.
Customers aren’t simply looking for one-time solutions or short-term benefits but for ongoing business relationships with people they trust. They need to be convinced that you care as much about their business success as they do.
What can you do to make your customer see you as a trustworthy person (and perhaps even a friend) rather than just someone trying to sell something to them?
Our research among field sales reps in the UK recently found that a significant number of respondents use sales tools that hurt rather than help their selling efforts. A wrong choice of technology, or opting for paper-based systems instead, leaves reps frustrated with poor customer data and unable to deliver the level of service they aspire to.
Choosing the right technology, tailored to sales rep needs, proves successful in assisting reps in their data capturing and selling efforts, freeing them from unnecessary admin tasks to spend more time building relationships with customers.