25 January 2010 By Northern Lights
‘Marketing is for failed sales people’. I heard this comment at a client’s this week and was both shocked and intrigued at the same time.
Coming from a product driven company with a highly professional and driven sales team, this is apparently how many sales people regard marketing.
Selling is a hot topic for businesses in the current economy, including our own. We are not alone in reviewing every area of our operations and challenging everything we do. And ‘sales’ has been under the spotlight.
We called in an expert to give an independent view of our sales process, Nick Bramley of NBA4Business. As a service business, we have always won new clients from networking, our own PR and word of mouth. We don’t do ‘sales’, we do ‘new business’.
And Nick has identified that the very idea of selling makes us all cringe! Working with Nick has been like some form of therapy and is involving a mind shift for us all.
Here are some of the lessons we have learnt
1 Pride in work
If you know your business is great, does its very best for clients and achieves results – why wouldn’t you want other businesses to have a chance to work with you? This is where we have gone through our biggest change in mindset
2 Ask for work
You may know lots of people and assume they will think of you when they are looking for your product or service. Don’t assume, make sure they know about you and ask them for work
3 What’s new?
Are you doing the same things as five years ago or even two? Have you told your existing clients and contacts what is different and what you can now do? A simple email can do the trick
4 Your contacts
How wide are your contacts? Friends, suppliers, partners, past clients, former students and colleagues should all be included in this list
5 Networking into business
Have you got a pile of business cards on your desk or in your card folder – and what are you doing with them? Make them active. Every contact should go into a formal sales process – ACT! software by Sage is a good contact database management system. Record when and where you met them, what the need was and when you should follow up with them
6 Follow up
Most people note and follow up the obvious leads (we’re going out to tender in two months), but are you relying on memory to follow up subtler opportunities (we’ve just completed an acquisition and will be reviewing all our operations over the next six months)? Include all these comments with a follow up date in your sales process
7 Cold calling
The toughest bit for many professionals! If this just isn’t your strength, consider employing experts to do this for you – Touchstone Leads are paid by results for each qualified appointment they set up. They have sensible conversations with your prospects and are used to getting past ‘gatekeepers’
If you are looking at your sales processes, NBA4Business is running heavily subsidised masterclasses on the subject from late January through early March 2010 for the University of York as part of the Higher York initiative