Elmer Thomas Jr.
Sales are a critical factor for success in business. When you have a startup, often you must wear the sales hat among the many others. In this case, I am referring to selling your product or service to a client. Here are some suggestions that will help turbo-charge your sales efforts.
1. KNOW YOUR PRODUCTS AND/OR SERVICES
If possible, you should be your own client. Buy your own product and use it regularly. Justify the value to yourself. If you are not a user of your product, find those that are, and get them to use your product for a test run. Find people that are using your competitor's product or service and investigate the good and bad points.
You need to understand all the benefits and values your product or service provides. Testimonials, case studies and research reports all help in validating your claims.
Make a list of all of the products and services you offer and brainstorm scenarios of benefit and value for each one. Equate these benefits and values to dollars. Discover where other benefits and values, that are similar to your proposition, are priced.
Know the time frames for delivery. Understand the worst case scenarios and the mitigation plans.
Make sure you understand any associated contracts. There should not be a clause in the contract that you do not understand. Know where you have flexibility and rigidity in the contract.
2. GATHER THE LEADS
Using the data gathered in step one, brainstorm who could gain the most benefits and values out of your service. Start with existing contacts and their associates.
Search for prospects in newspapers, magazines, trade journals and online. Check press releases to find companies that are investing in the benefits and values you provide and check out their competitors.
3. DO YOUR HOMEWORK
After you find a lead you will target, research the industry, competition and all the information you can find about that lead (their website is a good start), with a focus on how you can provide value.
Target the CXO level when making your pitch. Find out who the decision maker is; it's often the CFO. With that in mind, make sure you understand the dollar figures associated with your proposition. You will need to describe how your solution will impact their operation in dollars, through either cost savings or increased revenue.
4. GET THE APPOINTMENT
The first call or letter has only one purpose. That is, to get the appointment. Face to face is best, but if that is not possible, get a phone meeting.
Your call should go something like this: Hello Mr. YouHaveMyCash, I am Elmer Thomas with ThemBid.com, Inc. and I have a solution that will save you $5,000 each month. Jane in marketing told me you the right contact. Can we schedule a 15 minute meeting so that I can explain further?
Once you get the meeting, follow up on your promise and provide evidence backing your claims. The biggest suggestion I can give that will provide the best results is this; ask for the sale. Amazingly, this small detail is often forgotten. You need to have the attitude that you will be walking out of that meeting with a check.
6. FOLLOW UP
Make sure your customer is satisfied. Take the time to follow up and ask relevant questions regarding the promises you made and the actual results and adjust as necessary. Every bit of feedback you get will result in a greater competitive advantage. Use this opportunity to build your lead list with high quality referrals.
7. USE A SYSTEM
As you progress, you will find yourself juggling multiple accounts. I suggest you start with a simple excel spreadsheet to help you understand the data that is relevant to your operations.
Identify measurable metrics to help test various techniques. Some example metrics are number of phone calls, number of face to face meetings, number of closed sales and profits generated.
Once you get a picture of the data and activities that need tracking I suggest that you look into a customer relationship management (CRM) system. I currently recommend HighRise http://www.highrisehq.com for its simplicity and ZohoCRM http://www.zohocrm.com for the low price and great customization.