3 May 2012 By Northern Lights
We’re working with a lot of clients helping them to increase sales and this is nearly always one of the best places to start. It’s a common fault – and we’re probably guilty of it ourselves! – to focus on finding new customers when there’s a whole lot of business ripe for the picking right in your own customer base.
So how do you go about selling more to them?
1. Tell your customers about your products
Has any customer ever said ‘I didn’t know you did that?’
How many innovations have you made in your business in the last year? New technology, new customers, new contacts, new products, new training programmes. All these could be useful to your customers.
Analyse what’s new, think how it could be useful to which customers and then let them know what you are doing.
2. Understand your clients’ changing needs
Just as your business is changing, so are your clients’.
Ask them about their plans for the future. Find out where their biggest challenges will be in delivering their plans. Look for opportunities to develop new services to help them – or tweak what you are doing for their new plans.
This is one of the areas where we are helping our client Byrne Equipment Rental in Dubai – getting the sales team to understand their customers in a different way. Their customers are delighted to be asked and it is already generating new opportunities.
3. Make your database work for you
Without doubt this is the biggest angst for our customers. When we start off the marketing process by analysing what our client is selling to whom, we keep finding that the database is not accurate.
This is mostly a human error issue. The typical problems are
There are a variety of ways to tackle this but the most important is to monitor the accuracy of your database and ensure employees know how business critical it is. Explain to them how you will use it and base decisions on what they have entered.
And make it a performance management issue – look at the accuracy on a monthly basis and set goals for managers to ensure their teams complete the details needed.
4. Which products are which customers buying?
Once you have your data, use it. Analyse which of your customers are buying which products and services. Look for trends. Is there a product that only a few customers are buying? Come up with a plan to cross-sell this to all customers.
You can also spot sales teams which are selling a breadth of products and those that are sticking to their comfort zones.
When we started working with Arena Group, astonishingly we identified they didn’t need to find a single new customer to achieve their ambitious growth target. We just needed more of their existing customers to buy one particular product – which would save the customer money as well. Read about how we helped Arena to sell more to existing customers.
5. Make sure all your employees know what you do and sell
This sounds so obvious but it’s probably the biggest opportunity in most of our clients. The problem is usually that one sales team focuses on selling one product – other sales teams sell different products. Neither quite knows the details or how to spot opportunities to sell products other than their own.
Or you may have acquired a new business and the existing sales team never quite understands what the acquisition does – or not enough to sell it. So you end up sitting on a goldmine of cross-selling potential but no-one addresses it.
Sit down with your sales teams and identify the barriers to them selling each other’s products – usually it’s because they don’t understand the products. Organise product training and joint visits to customers so they can spot opportunities for colleagues.
6. All employees are sales people
And don’t forget all your employees. If you sell to schools, what about your employees dropping a brochure off at their children’s school or having a chat to the bursar or school secretary?
Can a delivery driver spot opportunities at your customers when dropping off?
But the starting point is to make sure that every employee knows about all your products and services and feels comfortable talking in the pub about them. And knows who to talk to if they spot an opportunity.