The person you want to sell to is the senior-most decision maker. The person you usually end up speaking with is much farther down the organization. But with the right methods, you can reach, and grab the attention of, the people you most want to sell to – those who just won’t respond to generic communications.
In big-ticket selling, many people may be in purchase decision loop, and the real decider is often not the person you deal with the most. You must identify and convince that person.
Prisons are places that measure the exact number of “customers” lost. Sales offices are another place where the number of customers is measured. How can you avoid becoming a prisoner of fear when it comes to increasing your customer base? By working to improve your communication with them. Interpersonal communication skills may be the only thing you have that truly separates you from the competition.
When you’re selling on the “front lines,” you need to be creative and find ways to stay in front of customers and prospects. Then, when it’s time to order, you’re the first person they call. People buy both from the head and sometimes, more importantly, from the heart. Therefore, help them think how much you care.
In my video program, “101 Ways to Communicate to the Top,” I present over 100 techniques to help people communicate more effectively. Space only allows me to share a few tactics that can help you right now:
1. Create a personalized questionnaire
Most people love to share their opinions. And you can be sure that your customers have opinions about you and your company. Create a simple survey that can either be mailed or conducted over the phone. You might say something such as, “You’re one of a select few that we’re contacting,” and “We’ll be sure to share our results with you when we’ve done our research.” The questions should be specific. For example, instead of, “How do you like our company?” ask “Is our catalog easy to use and are the order forms simple to fill out?”
2. Educate your customers
If your company has a newsletter, make sure all your customers are receiving it. And if your company does not have a newsletter, then create one yourself. The goal is to keep customers informed about changes and news about your products and services that would interest them. Perhaps it might give tips about new ways your products or services are being used by others. It might even have provocative information indirectly related to your company. With that type of information, the newsletter demonstrates that it’s not just another promotional piece.
3. Share the news
Send customers links to newspaper or magazine articles that pertain to their interests, and include a short note. You could also recommend a television program. For example, say CNN will be airing a story on a topic related to your customers. Call them up and suggest that they tune in. This technique works best when you’ve made the effort to research and learn what types of information motivates your customers. This is also true if your company wins a quality award. Let customers know that they made the right decision to buy from you — a winner.
Even if you are sending the same note to 50 different people, or relying to an inquiry from your site, always customize your follow-up communication.
Dear Ms. Natoya, thanks for your inquiry about our XYZ product. In your note, you mentioned that you were looking for a cleaning product to address “the delicate finish of natural marble floors. As you will see in the attached, our Premier LusterClean is designed expressly for that kind of surface.”
Everything else in your communication can be generic, so long as you include that little bit of personalizing.
5. Send pleasant reminders
Contact your customers regularly with reminders. Perhaps there’s a trade show or event scheduled, and you want to find out if they’re attending. Or maybe you’re going on vacation and want to let them know in advance when you won’t be available. You can even remind them about their annual budget. Perhaps there is research you could help them with in order to plan for the next year.
6. Send messages from the show or event
While you and your prospect are still there, send personal notes to the people you have met there. Everyone else is going to wait until after the event is over to follow up.
You could say,
“Glad we saw each other. I enjoyed the conversation we had about . . . I will follow up with you next week with answers to the questions you raised about . . . Have a safe trip home.”
7. Vary your “dance steps”
There’s a reason why there is more than one type of dance in our culture. People like variety. Keep track of the different techniques you use in order to stay in front of your customers. Make sure you change your approach from time to time.
For example, if you just sent a note, make the next contact a phone call. If you just stayed in touch with a phone call, next time send the customer an e-mail. Variety is the spice of life; therefore, keep your communications flavorful.
8. Make your customers feel important
Congratulate them when they accomplish a goal and continuously make positive comments about their business. Let them know that you think highly of them and that you feel privileged to work with them.
Staying at the top of customers’ minds requires an action plan. Make the techniques I’ve shared with you part of your plan. These will encourage you to communicate better. Ultimately, you will be able to count the exact number of new customers you’ve gained from using these tactics.