Whether you call it Business Development, Account Management or Customer Services, all companies will have a sales function; it’s what drives incoming business and makes the financial wheels go round. But what if you’re not a natural salesperson? What then?
Many professionals feel extremely uncomfortable in a sales driven environment. Too polite to ask and too embarrassed to be seen as pushy, it’s perhaps a mixture of personality and upbringing that views self-promotion as brash, disrespectful and just a little un-British. And it’s a fact that women tend to suffer from this affliction more than men.
But if winning new business is the lifeblood of any company, there’s got to be a way to overcome our fears and prejudices that are both culturally acceptable and commercially successful. Here are 4 sales strategies that will help you make friends with your inner saleswoman.
- Focus on relationship building, not deal closing
Cold calling and hard selling are aggressive and high risk techniques for short term goals. Rather than expecting to go from cold to conversion in one fell swoop, build your relationships slowly. Adjust your mindset so that instead of pressure selling, you’re simply adding to your valuable network of business contacts who know who you are and what your business could do for them, if they so decided.
Using ‘soft’ communication skills, put the emphasis on meeting people, and introduce yourself and your business to add to your dynamic network of potential clients.
Often, the best business opportunities come from recommendations from existing clients or other trusted business contacts, where a seal of approval for your company is already implicit. Introductions tend to happen when an actual business need for your company’s services arises, meaning that you’re then in the best possible place to take advantage of the opportunity.
- Be a thought leader in your field
With the proliferation of blogging, social media and other online platforms, it’s become very easy to build up a large, target audience your business can engage with. Regularly publishing intelligent, well written content on industry relevant topics will establish you as an authority to be taken seriously and listened to.
Whether you’re a law firm, media agency or recruitment consultant, share your views with industry peers, update your target market with news about your business sector, and collaborate with business associations to host events and champion campaigns. Soon, your company will be the go-to name on everyone’s radar and business opportunities will come your way.
- Do your research to gain essential insights
A wise US president once said: Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country. It’s not about you, it’s about your customers. For every prospective client you’re dealing with, ask yourself in the broadest sense: who are they, what makes them tick, and what is it that they really need?
It’s worth compiling a profile of every company and individual therein that you deal with, so you can build up an accurate picture about what drives them. This will enable you to have intelligent, informed business conversations that go far beyond the usual sales pitch. It’s only when you truly understand your prospective customers’ business challenges that you are able to devise the perfect solution to meet that need. And that is when conversion occurs.
- Measure your progress and your successes
Finally, in order to understand whether your sales strategies are working successfully, you need a business development plan to measure your activities against. Is all your time and energy expended in the right way? How much of it do you spend looking after existing clients, new business networking or online marketing? What specifically has been the most successful event, or technique, or product?
Analyse the results carefully on an ongoing basis to adjust your business plan, and execute it with precision and motivation to help drive your business forward.
Dakota Murphey, BA (Hons) Marketing graduate, writer, designer and social media consultant – working with staff management specialist Planday. Most likely sat on a coffee shop sofa enjoying a latte and free Wi-Fi…