How to win business

The first step in gaining sales is to plan and organise.

As a small business, you are unlikely to have the time or the resources to make use of a dedicated sales force. But you can turn this to your advantage by being as selective as possible about the potential customers you are chasing after.

Knowledge about prospects can help you to more accurately target the customers who will add most value to your business and give you an edge when it comes to closing a deal. Armed with the right information on a potential client, such as knowing as much as possible about the business, its strategy, its competitors and its key decision-makers, can dramatically improve your target list.

Paul Brown, vice-president of sales at OneSource Information Services provides the following tips to help you make the most of your sales strategy.

Target the right prospects

Many sales calls are made to prospects who are unlikely, or expensive, to convert or have low value over the long-term. Identify who your best customers are and why, and then spend your time and effort targeting prospects that have similar characteristics/profiles. This will help you to eliminate companies that don’t fit the ‘ideal customer’ profile.

Minimise wasted travel time

Arrange meetings out of town with other target prospects in the same area as your sales meeting so you can maximise the value of your journey. Furthermore, potential customers are often interested to know that you are dealing in their area or marketplace.

Know your customer

Knowing more about your target customer’s organisation and industry will make it easier to identify their problems and help you to differentiate yourself from the competition. Prospective clients increasingly expect a sales person to have a good understanding of their company and industry.

Improve the effectiveness of your research

Reduce time spent on wasted web searches for outdated information on prospects. Subscribing to a business information service can provide you with essential information, avoiding a situation where you spend only 10% of your time selling.

Talk to the right person

Avoid the switchboard and gatekeepers and spend time finding out who the decision-maker is. Ideally, find some key information about the individual that ensures a favourable first impression. Dealing with decision-makers early can often shorten the sales cycle.

Maximise your existing clients

Once you’ve got the business don’t miss the opportunities to cross-sell within the organisation – it’s five times easier to sell to existing clients than it is to find new ones.

Understand the role of news in the sales process

Look at how news, such as changes in personnel, expansion plans, office moves or client wins could influence the process or provide new opportunities. Make sure you monitor your prospects as much as possible.

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