From December 10, 2016
Everyone is in sales. This is a well known truth. We all trade with each other to get our needs met. It’s how it works. Customers lead to sales, but how do you find customers? How do you get customers to find you? And what makes them want to do business with you?
Finding answers to these questions when I was new to sales was what I thought about most of the time. I’d wait for them to hopefully show up. I’d talk to my coworkers. I’d bug my manager. I’d complain about how slow things were. I’d start blaming the weather. I’d try to do some training so that I’d be ready when one showed up. Pretty soon, the day would be over and we’d be locking up. I had a lot of these days in the beginning.
I started to wonder how some of the salespeople I knew were so busy all the time when I wasn’t. What were they doing that I wasn’t? I eventually figured this out, and when I became a retail manager I realized businesses think about this as well. How do we get people to shop at our store? As I later learned, that is also what companies think about.
We’re all trying to figure out how to grow our businesses. However, a lot of salespeople, stores, and companies do not always spend time doing the things that create customers. This may seem crazy, but a lot of people spend their time doing everything other than trying to find customers.
What are some of the reasons they don’t find more customers and make more sales?
- Lack of training
- No clear goals
- Time management issues
The good news is that finding customers isn’t really “hard” if you know how. Here are some tips on how to find more customers and grow your sales:
What are customers? Customers are people. Shocking, but true. You have to start with people. One at a time if necessary and as many as possible. Customers are people who have unique wants and needs and are trying to satisfy them. They want to buy something. It could be a product or a service, but they are trying to find a solution to this problem that will make them better off and they will trade their money for it. So the first step is getting in front of a lot more people.
People prefer to do business with people they know AND like. And they’ll try to avoid doing business with people they don’t like. Relationships are extremely important, and if you want to build your business you need to start building more relationships. They don’t all have to attend your next birthday party, but they have to know you well enough to say, “I like you!”
Attention. Interest. Decision. Action. This is a well known model for the sales process. I prefer Like, Listen, Believe, Buy, but it’s basically the same thing. Sales starts with getting people’s attention. We live in a noisy world with a lot of competition for people’s attention. Before someone will listen to you, you must gain their attention. This is the essence of the promotion part of marketing. The secret is to talk in terms of benefits which are the solutions to their problems that your product has.
Most people don’t keep in touch with their entire customer base. We don’t even contact the people who have purchased from us. But what would happen if you did? What would happen if you just maintained the relationship with each and every person? Eventually, someone might need what you have, and you could be the only person they know who offers it. Guess what happens if you don’t stay in touch?
You may have heard that sales is a numbers game. What does that mean? Well, it means that you have to figure out a way to manage the relationships of a large number of contacts. There are a million ways to do this, and it is wise to create a combination of ways you plan to stay in touch with your people. If you figure out how to scale your relationships, you’re on your way to scaling your business and your profits.
My tip here is simple – STOP IT. You don’t need to close someone in the first 5 minutes of meeting them. And not everyone is a prospect. I love my fellow salespeople, but I’ve had far too many people try to “take me out for coffee” five minutes after meeting me. This is a rookie move. Any business relationship we may have had just blew up. So stop hunting for sales. Instead, just get me to like you and keep in touch. I’m much more likely to let you pitch me if that’s the case. If I want what you have, you’ll be my person. If I don’t, I’ll send my friends to you. It’s that easy. Stop trying to close people who don’t want what you have. Spend your time prospecting for those who do.
You MUST take action – massive action. If your sales aren’t where you want them to be, you’re just not working hard enough. Also, you need to work hard AND smart. Do the right things and do them well. Most importantly, do them a lot. Put the books down. Stop chatting with your coworkers. Go meet someone. It’s really that simple. The last cliche quote I’ll give you is that sales is a contact sport. The more contacts you make, the better you’ll do. This is the real divider between the people doing well and those who are not. I’ve lived it for about 20 years. There is no substitute.
The last tip I’ll talk about is the thing that will help you take action. This is probably the thing that I see taken for granted more than any other thing. In order to accomplish things, it usually takes persistence and patience over a long period of time. The goal is the thing that keeps you focused. If you don’t know what your goal is, your focus will change regularly and you’ll never make any real progress towards anything. You have to be intentional each day. I’m not the first person to tell you this. I’m also someone who hasn’t always had goals. I thought good intentions were enough. But the reason I know this is important is due to my understanding of what the difference was between the things I achieved and the things I didn’t. So, if you want to change your results forever, start here. Write them down, and review them daily. Don’t wait. Do it now.
If you really want to be a winning player, I hope you take this to heart. I know a lot of people with a lot of potential that haven’t reached the point where they understand these things. Or, they understand them but fail to take action because they don’t have real goals. You can do this. It’s not complicated. It just takes time and work. Write down what you want to achieve, and go build relationships with the people who will help you achieve it.