How to generate sales
In an earlier column, “8 steps ensure your success in sales,” I recapped the valuable suggestions for generating new sales leads offered by David Behr, one of Tom Hokins’ trainers, during a presentation. I’m happy to share 6/7 more tips to help you generate new sales this year.
1. Prospect in new areas. Think outside the box. Which marketing platforms or opportunities do you not currently use for generating leads? Are you taking full advantage of social media and mobile applications (where applicable)? These are especially popular with younger customers. What about business netorking events and trade shows/expos? Are you taking full advantage of those? The bottom line: Go where your customers are. That may involve new planning and some additional investment. But it could also help you survive and prosper.
2. Give referrals. Sales is a two-way street. The best way is to help your customers is by generating sales or leads. Refer (and patronize) your customers whenever you can. Keep your eyes and ears open for opportunities to mention your customers to others. While attending business networking events, try to connect your customers with willing buyers. “You can have anything you want in life,” Zig Ziglar has said, “if you will help enough people get what they want.”
3. Contact lost customers. Conditions or personnel may have changed at your business or the client’s. Don’t assume the feelings are the same months later. Go back in with a new attitude and some new ideas.
Back when I was an ad rep for a newspaper group, I contacted a client we had lost. There had been a falling out between the newspaper and the client. By the time I came aboard, staff had changed at the client. I re-established the relationship, which lasted throughout my stint with the newspaper. When was the last time you went through your lost-client file? You just may end up generating new business.
4. Ask the “magic” question. I found this in “151 Quick Ideas to Get New Customers” by Jerry R. Wilson. He talks about a very successful saleman’s approach for pinning down a prospect. A) Dig to unearth your propect’s needs. B) Find out as much as you can about your prospect on a personal level to connect and build rapport. C) Ask the magic question: “If I can find a way to provide the products and services you need, would you consider buying it from me?”
The salesman used this strategy to sell millions of dollars’ worth of products and services in a variety of industries. Can you use this approach in your business?
5. Offer alternative solutions. There will be times when you cannot fulfill a customer’s request. Come up with two or three valuable alternatives. Tell them what you can do, instead of what you cannot do. For example, “You can only get one order by Friday,” becomes “I can have one order to you by Friday and the other by Tuesday.”
If possible, offer discounts in a situation like that. Take it off the current order or a future one. Either way, you will help to soothe the irritated customer.
6. Be persistent. Stay in touch , but don’t appear desperate or pushy. It’s easy to ignore a prospect who consistently says no. Don’t give up. Not every contact need be sales-related; indeed, it’s better to minimize the sales messages. Send greeting cards throughout the year. Mail clippings of relevant newspaper or magazine articles (or e-mail their links). Comment on the person’s blog column or Facebook post.
Maintaining a strong relationship with your customers will help you generate sales and leads on a consistent basis. Keeping the customers’ needs first and foremost will help you immensely.
For related reading, see “Customer problems often solved with the smallest gestures” and “How to deal with customer complaints”.
What techniques have you used to generate sales? Anything out of the ordinary? Feel free to comment below. Also, could you do me a favor? Please share this column with others by using the buttons below.
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