The last ""rader's edge"" was about a doorman and his ability to understand your customers and make them feel welcome. I compared this person to a person to a doorman at a hotel and suggested you employ a doorman to make customers feel welcome. This was all about incoming business.
This column will focus on looking out the window and going to get business. In this case, what you need is a windowman.
What's the difference? A doorman is integral to customers coming into your facility while a windowman is constantly looking outside for new sales opportunities. You need somebody to constantly look for customers who do not frequently visit your facility, and you need somebody to always look out for future customers. Do you have somebody looking out the window--the window of your business?
In a recent conversation with my colleague Rick Davis, who writes the "Sell Sheet" column for ProSales, I said: "Rick, if you want to make money in sales, you need to answer the phone. Every time the phone rings you need to answer it. I am confident that salespeople who screen calls are short-term and losing sales to those who answer the phone. Why? Because, somebody [the caller] wants to give you money."
Rick liked that line, but then he asked: "Have you thought about outgoing calls?"
What a brilliant idea, I thought. You need somebody that can go out and hunt. You need somebody who can make outgoing calls. You need somebody who's used to getting nine "nos" before they get a "yes." You need somebody who can go out and meet with customers, somebody who can optimize your CRM system and look for leads, or who can at least use a sales funnel.
Last week, while on a consulting assignment, I entered a yard that had four of the most knowledgeable salespeople I have encountered in quite a while. They were product experts and were selling each person that came into their facility. But there lies a weakness. If their competitor has a windowman, and that person is going out and asking for the business, the yard I was working with will lose out. The competitor's windowman will catch the customer before he gets to my construction supply dealer.
Here are six techniques your should make certain your windowman uses:
- Open up the conversation. This can be as simple as asking, "How are things going?" Use your own words, but put the back-and-forth exchange into gear.
- Examine the customer's business card. Never put it in your pocket without reading the entire card, focusing on all of it. If the customer has a slogan or mission, ask about it. If it has a logo, ask, "What does this mean?" Always provide one of your business cards first.
- Focus on the surroundings. If you are in a prospect's office and see a picture of the family, golfing pictures, fishing pictures, or anything that represents the person, ask about it and ask in a broad-brush way. For example, say, "Tell me about your family," or "Tell me about that fishing picture."
- Focus on the customer's business. Can you carry on a conversation without using the word "I"? It's difficult. Try it on your next sales call. You will be amazed at how much better your customer will feel.
- Before you leave, set a follow-up call, even if it is way into the future.
- When get back in your truck or office, write notes. Put these in your CRM package and set a reminder to revisit the customer.
Remember, you are hunting. In hunting you can't always just go for the kill. You must first understand the territory.If you are new at sales, get with a veteran and develop a discovery sheet of questions. Memorize the questions; don't read off of a sheet. Your customer will get nervous if you show up with a census-type form.
In the end, you want to make all prospects feel comfortable with you and your company. While you will still have customers visiting your facility, look out the window and figure out how spend time on existing customers who don't come by often. And allocate time to spend on hunting new customers.
Chris Rader is a consultant based in Lafayette, La. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.