Helping businesses get more customers and increase the profits is what we love to do. This is the first of seven articles we will be posting to assist you to understand the sales and marketing process. At the conclusion you will have several great tools you can use immediately to improve your bottom line.
The importance of marketing success is making sure you have developed a brand or 'image' which is in synergy with your business and services. Your marketing strategies should be developed over time to clearly define what your business has to offer and how you stand above your competitors. A strong image communicated well to your target market will provide the opportunity to build a stronger bond with current and potential clients, increase traffic and result in a ongoing steady stream of customers. So how do we go about it?
So the best place to start is quite simple: prospecting!
Prospecting, contrary to popular assumption, is not sales. It is the process by which we generate leads for our business.
Many people - even seasoned sales people - hate to prospect, but it's absolutely essential if you want to grow your business and welcome new customers. In big companies, the whole prospecting - otherwise known as lead generation - process is handled by a marketing department. The marketing department attracts the new leads and then forwards those leads to the sales department, who then - in theory - turn prospects into paying customers.
Well that's the short of it anyway!
But what if you're in a small business, or a micro business, and you're the only person in that business? If that sounds like you, then the task of generating leads - prospecting - and turning them into sales is up to you and you alone.
Even if you have absolutely no experience in lead generation or sales, you can master the art of prospecting by following these simple, step-by-step recommendations.
So here goes...
The Step-By-Step Prospecting Process
Understand that prospecting is absolutely essential: You need to prospect to grow your business and take it to the next level. As daunting as it may seem, the more prospecting you do, the better you will get at it. Commit time each day to prospecting activities such as phone calls or emailing. Make prospecting a priority.
Determine your target market: Who are the people you target your business to? You offer a product or a service and you do it well. But who are the people you want for customers? You need to sit down and make a detailed list of who those people are. Be specific about this! Too many businesses think the "numbers game" approach is what prospecting is all about. They cast their net wide, in the hope that the law of probability will help them out, i.e. the more people they contact, the more prospects they are likely to find. It doesn't work this way though. You need to narrow down exactly who the people most likely to do business with you are. Take the time to make that detailed list of your target market and you need to qualify these prospects as much as you can, before making the initial contact.
Research your prospects: Once you have decided who your target market is, it's time to do the research. As you can well imagine, most of us are bombarded with advertising messages each day. This is particularly so for company directors and decision makers in a business. Once you have identified who your prospects are, research each one independently, so you can craft a message specific to them. The person you speak to will be appreciative that you have taken the time to assess where they are at. They will appreciate the fact that you have tailored a solution to their need. It is what certainly helps you warm a lead right up!
Create a basic script to work with: Don't listen to anybody who tells you a script is a bad idea with prospecting. Always work with a script and tailor it to the specific prospect you are speaking to or emailing. Scripts show that you have prepared yourself for the communication. It is far better to go into prospecting prepared, than to simply wing it and risk looking unprofessional. Practice your prospecting spiel and ensure you talk smoothly and naturally.Most importantly, avoid selling over the phone. Your intention at this point is merely to send further information to the prospect or set an appointment time. Come from a mindset of helping the prospect, and be genuine in your intention. It will shine through and leave a positive impression.
Follow up quickly: Once you have received a positive response from your prospect in the form of an information request or appointment, take action fast. Act while the contact is fresh in their mind, so send through that information ASAP or set that appointment ASAP. Once you send information, follow up on it a few days after they received the information. If an appointment is set more than a week away from your initial contact via phone or email, follow up with a friendly reminder call a few days out from the appointment. You must aim to remain fresh in the minds of the prospect - again coming from that mindset of helping the prospect and being genuine about it.
Never speak negatively about your competition: This is a trap many business people have fallen into, and it makes one look very unprofessional in the eyes of a prospect. When speaking to a prospect, avoid speaking negatively about your competition. The same can be said for your marketing material - the information you send to prospects. Always focus on your business' strengths and not the weaknesses of your competition. It is okay to compare your company with those of your competitor's, but emphasise your strengths and allow the prospect to formulate their own conclusions.
Don't take rejection personally: It is hard at times not to take rejection personally, but you simply must not. Remember the prospect you are in touch with is one of many you will talk to. Sure, you will qualify your prospects in the second step mentioned above, however, you will be in touch with many of them. Expect a no at least five times before a prospect buys, so see a rejection as a step closer to success.
Be positive: Remember that there is plenty of business to go around for all of us to be successful! Be enthusiastic about what you offer and always, always approach prospecting from the perspective of your prospect. Understand what they need and exceed their expectations. Be genuine in your intention to help and your prospects will pick up on this right away. In fact, it will set you apart from so many other sales people who simply view a prospect as a number, rather than a prospect.
Follow these recommendations, and you will be well on your way to achieving prospecting mastery!
As stated earlier, this is the first of what will be seven articles in this series on the Salers Process. Look out for the others as they come on line.
If you have any questions at all about any of the material you have read, or if you would like to talk to us about how we can help you do more business, simply visit our web site
We would love to help you!
Stephen and Kerrie Butler are Profit Growth Specialists. As part of the Better Business Institute, they work with small and medium businesses and through the use of effective no and low cost strategies they normally achieve a 30 - 60% increase in profits with 90 days.
Visit their web site at http://www.profitgrowthspecialists.com.au for other related articles and to download our free marketing resource entitled "16 Golden Nuggets You Can Use In Your Business Today For Faster Profits"
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