by Leigh Wallinger.
The new sales paradigm is one in which buyers are in control. They decide when your sales cycle starts – it starts when their buying cycle starts. They decide how fast they move through their buying cycle. They choose who can compete for their business by producing a shortlist of selected suppliers (usually through Internet research).
As a small business owner, it is your job to ensure your company is on that shortlist because unless you do, there is no way of securing an order for your company.
One of the main reasons for the lower success rates of your telephone cold-calls is because you telephone at the wrong times. Only when the buyer is ready to start their buying cycle will your cold-call be well received. At all other times, you will encounter resistance and rejection.
Getting the timing right isn’t your only cold-callingchallenge. Your cold-call will come out of the blue, most likely when your prospect is busy. Your call, if you can negotiate your way past all the gatekeepers, will interrupt your prospect’s thought processes and disrupt his work. How pleased do you think your prospect will be to hear from you?
Politeness may soften the reaction you receive but, in reality, your chances of engaging positively with this prospect are pretty low.
There is a better way
You can never know exactly when your prospect is going to begin looking for and researching possible suppliers or when their buying cycle will start. The best solution is to be visible, at all times, in all the places your prospect is likely to look. Remember, you must get on their shortlist.
Luckily, this is relatively easy. Your prospect will use the Internet to research potential suppliers.
Your website is central to your online visibility. However, you must also be present in the modern equivalent of trade catalogues – online databases that can be searched for companies matching specified criteria. In all your entries in these “catalogues” you should provide links to your website to encourage researchers to link through.
Apart from the obvious information, your website should also contain some mechanism to capture your prospect’s email address. At present, the most popularways are to tempt them to sign up for a regular newsletter (or eZine) and gain access to a downloadable book (an eBook).
As soon as you have an email address it becomes much easier to remain visible to the prospect. You can send emails periodically, which can highlight some positive news about your company, perhaps with a link to your website for the full story. This is better than having all the information in your email as it means the prospect visits your website again to read the full story and may look at other webpages while there.
Being visible is only half the challenge facing small business owners. In addition to being seen by your prospects you must also seem a credible and trustworthy supplier.
Again, your website will play an important role in persuading prospects to take you seriously, even if you are a one-man company. Credibility is built the quickest by you stepping out of the limelight and allowing your existing clients to talk about their positive experiences of you and your products/services.
Success stories should be produced to explain how your clients have seen benefits having bought from you. From these, your prospects will get a good understanding of what you are like as a supplier. If you add a sprinkling of quotes from your clients that are positive and describe something specific about their experience, your credibility grows even faster.
When you utilise client quotes, avoid the generic ones. Something like “a smooth installation with no problems” doesn’t really make an impact with prospects. An alternative such as “we were grateful that your installers were thorough – they protected our carpets and furniture and left no mess whatsoever”.
Quotes are more believable if they attributed to a named individual together with their company name (if you are selling to companies).
When prospects start looking for possible suppliers they will find you through your online presence. Success stories will demonstrate your competence and your client quotes will be more persuasive than anything you can say or write.
Leigh Wallinger knows the problems that every small business owner encounters when trying to establish and grow a small business. After 30+ years’ experience he now helps small business owners to grow their businesses. Contact him by email (enquiries at salesmadeeasy.co.uk) or via www.salesmadeeasy.co.uk
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