Manager’s Corner/What Are You Waiting For?
by Liz Weber
I’ve just started working with a client who desperately needs to increase sales. His company hired a new sales representative over a month ago. Together they identified key current customers to visit and penetrate further. They decided to focus on this group first, then they’d focus on getting new customers - a smart approach.
Yet when I called last week to see how the sales calls (and - I’d hoped - sales closures) were going, I was stunned to hear that the sales representative hadn’t made one single call to a customer - current or prospective. The sales representative doesn’t have all of the new marketing materials designed and printed yet, so my client doesn’t want him to go to a customer and have “nothing to show them.” What? Am I missing something? Don’t your current customers already know what you do? Can’t you simply sit down with them and talk with them about their needs and then identify the ways your company can help them? Don’t you have a strong enough relationship with your customers that they can trust what you say? Do they need brochures and flyers to ‘prove’ to them you can provide additional products and services?
Unless the products or services you offer are so complex that they require pictures, diagrams, and flow charts to make them understandable, your brochures, flyers, and other marketing pieces are really just accessories to supplement what you tell your customers and prospects your company provides. Relationships and proven performance are what generate sales most consistently - not snazzy brochures. I recently facilitated several customer focus sessions for a client. One of the questions we asked his customers was, “Why did you decide to work with XYZ Company instead of another firm?” The most common response was, “Because I knew the owner.” We also asked, “Why do you continue to work with XYZ Company?” The most common response was, “Because we’ve had a good working relationship so far.” Not a single customer replied to either question with, “Because XYZ had the best marketing pieces around.”
Now I’m not suggesting that marketing materials are not important - they are. They’re great support pieces. But that’s just it - they support what you say you can do and what you do. So if you need to increase your sales to current or prospective clients, don’t wait to talk with prospects until you have the perfect marketing piece. The first step is to just get out there and start talking with people. Don’t expect to be perfect. Don’t try to be perfect. Be yourself. Help your customers solve their problems with your products and services. Start now to build relationships that develop into long-term business relationships. That’s how you increase sales. That’s how you grow businesses.
What are you waiting for?
©2003 Liz Weber of Weber Business Services, LLC. Liz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.