Attention Sales People: Why you MUST Study your Customers

Here’s a valuable story about a sales master-class that I ran

The master-class was attended by the Managing Director of a large printing company. He came to learn some new ideas on how to win over one specific prospect.
However, when I asked some basic questions about this prospect, the Managing Director was unable to answer them. This exercise taught him a valuable lesson. If you want to convert a prospect, you need to know enough about them.

Many sales people do not know enough about their customers

An awful lot of printing companies seem to work on a different basis. They believe that the more people they contact, the more business they will win. But it is far more profitable to focus on specific types of prospect and really go the extra mile to put yourself in their world.
However, in order to be in their world, you need to understand it. Here are three sets of questions that you should be able to answer.
1. Market sector questions

  • What is the sector that you want to focus on?
  • Who are the key players?
  • What are the current trends in this marketplace?
  • What are the successful companies doing?
  • What are the aims of the successful companies?

2. Ideal customer questions

  • What is the profile of your best customers?
  • What are the key statistics of their companies?
  • What are the goals of the companies?
  • What is the company culture like?
  • What roles do the buyers and main contacts have?
  • What are the buyers and main contacts like?
  • How do the buyers and main contacts fit into the organisation?
  • Who are the key influencers and decision makers?

3. Challenge questions
These also refer to your best customers:

  • What are the main challenges faced by the companies?
  • What are the main challenges faced by your contacts? (These may be very different from the company challenges)
  • How does print help these companies with their business?
  • How do your services help the company or the contact?

How does this information help you?Getty_134574783

Once you have this information you are able to reach out to prospects with a similar profile. You have a much better chance of engaging with them. You have a much better chance of successfully converting these prospects into clients.

So how do you get hold of this information?

The answer is simple: talk to your current clients. Most of them will be only too happy to help you.
Once the Managing Director understood much more about his prospect he was able to have much more meaningful conversations. He has now won some test work.

There’s one important piece of information that these questions do not cover

That’s the issue of individual mindset. I’ll be covering this in my next article.
Editor’s Note: This post is part of a larger series focused on effective sales and sales-training tactics:

PS If you’d like great ideas on how to engage with today’s buyers, download my free e-book “Ten Common Print Selling Errors and What To Do About Them”. You’ll also receive my regular “Views from the print buyer” bulletin, full of ideas on how to sell print effectively.

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