About two weeks ago I met with a prospective client, I’ll call him Bill (not his real name). Bill is a sales person for a large company and he wants to increase his sales. He has attended several trainings and seminars on how to cold call, the language to use, and how to close. When he heard that I have a system that increases sales he asked to talk to me. Right after we started talking, and he realized that I am a marketing consultant, he told me that he can’t do any marketing because the company he works for “takes care of all that stuff”. As he stood to leave I suggested that we talk for 15 minutes. If I couldn’t give him any ideas that would improve his sales he could leave. “After all,” I said, “what harm is there in spending 20 minutes talking to another business professional?” Here I’ll share some of the tips and techniques I gave him.
What are you selling?
This is a very valuable question to marketers and sales people alike. Most sales people spend lots of time studying the product or service their company offers, and rightly so. Sometimes they can make suggestions on changes to existing products, or new products that could be added to the line up but in the end they have little to no control over what they sale. There is, however, something that they are selling that they often overlook, they are selling themselves. This is especially true for real estate agents, financial planners, insurance agents, and consultants. All sales people are part of the deal when they sell their product or service.
Let’s look at insurance agents as an example. An insurance agent has almost no control over the individual insurance packages that are available. That means that there is almost no difference between what each agent can offer their clients. All the agents in a firm will use the same logo, rely on the advertising of their firm, and deliver the same coverage and benefits of every other agent anywhere else in the country. So why do some agents have more clients than others? There is one point of differentiation between every agent in the world, and that is that they are each unique people with a unique set of skills. The agents that do well are the ones that understand that they themselves are the product being sold.
The first area the Tetravive system focuses on is the value of the offering. If you, as the salesperson, are part of the offering then you have tremendous control over how valuable the offering is. Even if you can’t run advertising, build a website, or adjust pricing, you can change the way you interact and add value to the equation for your customers.
Are You Just the Sales Person or an Indispensable Part of the Offering?
When my wife and I were considering putting solar panels on our home I met with several sales people from a bunch of different companies. All in all they each offered a nearly identical product. In fact, as I investigated I found that they all got their panels and other equipment from the same manufacturer. The pricing was really close between them all, and the financing options were all pretty standard. After our conversation with the last one my wife said, “We’re buying solar from him.” and I agreed. There were several things he did that we liked. We only want solar if we can get Elijah (yes that is his name and I’ll be happy to share his contact info with you if you want to get solar for your home of business) as part of the deal. We knew that he would support us and be present for the life of our investment.
Another experience I had will lead us to an important question. One day I got my insurance statement in the mail. When I opened it, as usual, my eyes went directly to the amount owed. Then as I was putting the bill in my “to-do” box I noticed that the name of the agent was one I didn’t recognize. At first I thought that maybe I had just forgotten my agents name. I checked the contact on my phone under insurance and found that the name I had on my phone was different than the name on the bill. Then I pulled out past statements and found that my original agent had left and I had been assigned to a new agent several months earlier. There was no difference in what I was receiving between the two agents. I chose a new agent with a new company shortly thereafter.
So here’s the question, If you left the industry today, and your customers were assigned to someone else, would there be an appreciable difference in what your customers are getting?
Starting with First Impressions
Look at the pictures of the offices to the left. Which one seems more professional? What can you assume about the people that work in these offices? You control the way you are seen by your customers. The way they see will influences the way they see your product. The way your office looks, the way you dress, your posture, and your mannerisms all influence the way people will see your offering. Just like in marketing, start with your product, which is yourself, and then see what kind of people would the best version of you fit. What will those people expect from you in the way you dress, speak, and organize your office?
Maintain Great Communication
Good sales people stay in touch with their prospects throughout the sales process, great sales people stay in touch with their customers too. Staying present and involved is key to being considered indispensable. The frequency of your contact will vary depending on your industry and your clients needs. It’s important that the communication be relevant to them, not just the default form mailer that your company provides. This is a time to do two things, show that you know and care about your customers, and to let them get to know you. Think of it like you are meeting them for lunch for a chat, you’re just doing it via email or mail.
Expanding Your Offering More
When I talk to a business owner, we will often talk about causes to support as a way to enhance the value of their offering. Sales people can leverage this idea as well. Be careful though, this isn’t a sales gimmick, it means adding time to your work load to legitimately supporting a cause you believe in. Choose a cause that you believe in and then dedicate time, and money, to that cause. Let your prospects and clients no that a portion of what you makes goes to the cause. Invite them to volunteer with you at events. Be passionate about the cause.
So How Did it End?
Bill sat down and we started talking about his sales. After a little over an hour Bill had filled three pages with notes and ideas of how to improve his sales. He thanked me for asking him to stay and said he now understood how marketing played a role in his sales. Two weeks later he told me, that after implementing just a few of the ideas I had given him, that he had already seen results.
All sales people should be engaged in marketing. They may not run ads but they can improve their offerings by improving themselves. If you would like some more ideas that are specific to you and your business get in touch with me. The Tetravive approach will help you increase your sales and retention.