The buyer’s job has become much easier over recent years
If they want a new print supplier, for instance, it’s not hard to find one.
Many buyers have long lists of potential suppliers that have already contacted them. But even if that isn’t the case, the power of internet search engines makes it very easy to find suitable printers.
So how do you win clients when there is so much competition?
It is easier to win a client when you start a one-to-one dialogue. But that can be hard to do these days. Most buyers are overwhelmed by sales calls and e-mails. There is very little incentive to respond to these approaches. If you want to win results, you need a more personal approach.
Buyers also want suppliers they can trust. It can be difficult to form a trust-based relationship from traditional sales methods. Here are three approaches that make it more likely for a prospect to want to have a conversation with you. The first one depends on your existing customer base.
- Focus on referrals
Most buyers trust their network. They will often approach them first for advice – and for help with finding new suppliers. The best contacts in a buyer’s network will also make recommendations. With a little bit of work, they can act as a sales team for you.
Ask your best customers if they can introduce you to their network. To help them, always be specific about the type of introduction that you want. You could also think about rewarding them for any business that they bring in.
Set yourself, or your team, a referrals target. When I was busy looking for new business I aimed to get between three and five successful new referrals a week. However, referrals alone will not fill your presses. Here’s another sales channel that can be very effective.
- Be active on social media
I get most of my new business through social media. Social media has won me all sorts of clients. Some are one-man bands though. Others are global blue-chip corporations that I would never have dreamed of approaching through traditional sales channels.
If you are publishing a stream of useful content you can engage the interest of prospects. They are then much more likely to respond if you reach out on a one-to-one basis. Set yourself, or your team, social media targets. Everyone should be making a minimum number of connections each week. In addition, you should also have a target to reach out and have a conversation or a meeting with a certain number of your social media connections. Your social media connections are also a good type of prospect to invite to the third sales channel.
- Hold company events
Traditionally, printing companies hold events where prospects come and look at presses. Instead, a much more effective event is a networking event. Invite a number of companies from the same market sector. Engage a speaker on a topic that is important to this sector. Suddenly you will have a group of potential buyers in a room with you for two or three hours.
One company has implemented this strategy so successfully that they now charge for customers to come to these events. For this company, the events have become an income stream in their own right!
For all these sales channels, there is one rule that will help you.
Engage with your prospects rather than trying to make a hard sell
Buyers respond far more positively to companies that try and create a dialogue and help their prospects. Your prospects will have had more than enough sales people trying to make them buy right now. You will have a hard time if you try and go down this route as well.
Remember, most prospects are not ready to buy when you approach them. Your job is to make them remember you and want to reach out to you when it is time for them to make a purchase.
Maybe the buyer’s job is not as easy as it seems
Few companies actually apply these sorts of strategies when they are selling. The ones that use traditional sales approaches are much more frustrating for buyers to deal with. If you carry the approaches we have covered in this article, you may find that the buyer is much more likely to choose you over the competition.
Look out for my next article where I’ll be covering ways to stand out when you are having a dialogue with a customer.
**Editor’s Note: This is part of a two-post series on strategies for winning new business:
- Strategies to Find (and Acquire) New Customers
- Stand out in a Crowd: How to Get Customers to Notice You
PS If you’d like more practical 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” right now. You’ll also receive my regular “Views from the print buyer” bulletin, full of ideas on how to sell print effectively.