Recently, I spent time training one of my client companies. There are six salespeople I am training and most of them I have been working with for several years.
I must admit, they are some of the finest professional salespeople anywhere. Each one of them could outperform any salesperson working in their industry and if they changed industries, they would be the top salespeople in any new industry. These men just “get it.” They are paid 100% commission, so if they don’t perform, they don’t bring home any money. They all earn a significant six-figure income.
Our recent discussion was centered on areas they believed they could improve. We made a list and each one of them contributed ideas for improvement. The list was long and detailed. They were very specific in their descriptions of areas for improvement. When the list was completed I stepped back, looked at the large list of things they felt could be improved, and asked myself if I had taught them anything at all over the past several years. Of course I had, and they had applied what I had taught them. The proof was in the pudding. Sales have increased each year since the recession that began in 2008 and their incomes have risen significantly, and yet, there on the whiteboard was a very long list of things they felt they could improve on.
I don’t care how well you sell, this experience demonstrated, rather graphically, that there is always room for improvement. We talked about several of the things they listed on the board and presented new and better ways of performing. Let me list a few of those areas they identified and see, if possibly, they might ring true with you.
- Spend more time with your existing customers; they represent the very best opportunity for your next sale. Too often, salespeople neglect their “happy, satisfied customers” for the excitement of finding a new prospect. There is nothing wrong with finding new prospects, but don’t neglect the very best opportunity of all, your existing customer base.
- Happy, satisfied customers are prime candidates for referrals. When you focus on your existing customers and take care of their needs, they will be very willing to give you referrals, but you must ask. The very best way to receive referrals is to put each new prospect on notice that if you take care of them and they become a happy, satisfied customer, you will be contacting them and asking for referrals. This creates a very strong psychological process in their minds. They now know you are going to do your best to take care of them because you want referrals from them. It doesn’t get any better than receiving referrals from your happy satisfied customers.
- The final benefit of focusing on your existing customers is to receive either a written letter of recommendation or a video endorsement. These endorsements are used with new prospects to help create an environment of belief, like and trust. You will know you are doing the right things when your customers present you with a great letter of recommendation.
- Don’t just follow-up, romance your prospects consistently. One of my clients shared the story of a prospect he was working with in hopes of closing the sale. He had presented a great solution to the prospect and had given them competitive pricing; now he was just waiting for the purchase order. He waited and waited, but the purchase order didn’t come. He then decided to do exactly as he had been trained to do but had neglected doing it because he felt a little uncomfortable; he romanced the sale. During the process of visiting with the prospect, he discovered the competition had also presented a bid and the prospect was planning to buy from my client’s competitor. Because he romanced the sale, he eventually won the very sizable bid. Romance, romance, romance and romance some more.
- The final thing we talked about from the very long list of areas for improvement was becoming a partner with your customer. Know their business and help them make decisions you would make if it was your business. When your customer realizes how much you know and care about the success of their company, you will have their business forever.
Bottom line, every salesperson can do better than they are currently doing. You will be rewarded for your performance and your customers will be grateful for the relationship you have with them. Don’t become lazy and complacent in your sales activities. Work each day to improve your skills and to do those things that will promote a partnership relationship with your customers, and you will be rewarded greatly.