Sometimes the issue with poor performance is nothing to do with ability but just not having a process to follow. It could simply be that a person is seeing the wrong prospects. Some of the questions to ask at this stage include:
- Where do you store your existing client information?
- How do you analyse the potential for further business from the client or though referrals might exist?
- Where do you store information for prospective clients?
- How do you analyse this information in terms of deciding where the potential for future business might exist?
- What do you know about your competitors and which existing and potential clients might be using their services?
The effect of asking these questions of your staff, or even yourself, is to stimulate the thought process in terms of determining whether the effort being expended here is worth it. ‘Am I spending the right amount of time seeing the right prospects? ‘This is true of each of the elements of the standard sales process.
Forecasting & planning activities
There’s another well known adage, very true of acquiring business – ‘it’s not that people plan to fail – what they do is fail to plan’. Some of the questions applicable here include:
- Have you got a business acquisition plan?
To prepare a good plan, first of all, you need to understand your company thoroughly and not just the industry that it operates in. Second, you need to determine whether the way the business currently operates is up-to date and progressive or whether it needs to be changed. If you locate areas of poor performance, you need to identify specifically what causes the low performance so that you can develop an action plan to correct it.
Contacting prospective and existing clients
- How do you make contact with prospective clients?
Naturally we would all love to get all of our work from referrals and word of mouth marketing; things would be much easier then. Unfortunately, it takes time and hard work to get to that level.
And, until that happens you will have to look for new clients yourself.
Cold calling is a process of approaching new prospects, usually by telephone where the prospect has not indicated any desire to be called (hence the term “cold”). In practice that means that you simply ring prospects out of the blue, hoping to initiate a contact that may lead to a sale.
Email cold call
It is a variation of a cold call. Due to its less invasive nature, it is now growing in popularity amongst business owners and sales people as it does not demand a personal intrusive contact. Unlike a cold call, where you have to ring a prospect, hoping that you catch them in the right time to present yourself, email cold call uses message sent over the Internet to initiate the contact with a prospect.
Go to as many such events as you can but make sure that they are the ones your prospects attend as well. Try to make friends with your prospects; many of those connections will actually result in a business being done.
Getting Prospects to come to you
In order for prospects to start coming directly to you, you need to become a resource, someone that is known for one particular thing and in most cases this should be something that is the most closely related to what you do.
Once you establish what that might be, and have an action plan worked out, try one of the following:
- Write a column for your local paper
- Send a free weekly tip via email and ask all your recipients to forward it further
- Start call in sessions during which you will be available to your prospects
- Organize free monthly networking sessions relating to what you do
- Run a blog helping your prospects
- Publish articles on websites your prospects visit
- Become active in your local community organizations, run programs related to what you do
- Organize free workshops
- Write a book
- Start a networking group
- Or do anything else that simply positions you as an authority.
Establishing the customers needs and matching to products and services
The recommended methodology is always to test out solutions before proposing solutions. Questions include:
- How do you establish what it is the client is looking for and how do you usually begin?
- Is there a system you use? Is there a format? Is there a needs analysis? How do you record the discussion?
Using effective questioning techniques puts your customer at ease and demonstrates that you care about what they need and want, and also that you are prepared to take the time to assist them. Open questions enable you find out a large amount of information with a few questions. Closed questions are used to gather specific information about what the customer wants as they usually require one word answers. Reflective questions are asked to clarify what the customer has said, and to ensure that the message was understood.
- Open questions gather information
- Closed questions get the sale
- Reflective questions clarify information
Closing the sales and agreeing actions
Some people call this ‘closing’. If the first few elements of the process are done correctly there is usually no need to close. The client ends up buying. Questions to consider:
- Is there a formal process to agreeing action?
- Do you have any idea of your strike rate (i.e. number of successful interviews over number of interviews)
One of the most important stages of selling is closing the deal, which is the action taken by the sales person to gain agreement to the sale. There are many closing techniques in sales, which are prescribed actions that sales people take to persuade the customer to make the necessary commitment. However if you follow the sales process properly the client will normally make the decision for you.
After sales; Delivering on promises; following up; reviewing; and up-selling
Questions here include:
- What happens after you acquire a new client / additional work?
- How do you ensure that the agreements reached with the client actually happen?
- How do you up-sell i.e. ask client to consider using you for other services you offer?
- How often do you ask for a referral (to a new prospective client)? What do you say? How often is this successful?
- What happens if you are not successful?
- What records are kept and maintained?
Why after Sales Service?
After sales service plays an important role in customer satisfaction and customer retention. It generates loyal customers.
Customers start believing in the brand and get associated with the organization for a longer duration. They speak well about the organization and its products.
A satisfied and happy customer brings more individuals and eventually more revenues for the organization.
After sales service plays a pivotal role in strengthening the bond between the organization and customers.
Charlie has designed and delivered training in the areas of leadership skills, change management, supervisory management, train the trainer, organizational skills, selling skills and sales management. He has worked with clients from different sectors such as hospitality, motor, higher education, engineering, science, financial, food and drinks, building, and many others from the small and medium to the multinational. He has coached, mentored and trained members of staff, senior management and business owners throughout his career.
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