The ability to articulate your message of differentiation or value proposition is half the battle in getting prospects to understand what you have to offer that the other guys don’t.
The other half is getting noticed so that your message gets the appropriate attention and is actually heard. Once your message is heard, the sales opportunity is much greater and the time spent nurturing the relationship to the point of sale will be much more effective.
Understand the challenges
What are the issues that are keeping you from realizing sales? Are you trying to penetrate a new territory where you are unknown? Is there intense loyalty to current relationships? Is your product or solution new and, as such, unproven? Are you more expensive than “lookalike” solutions? Is there fierce competition, so there is just not enough business for everyone? Are your salespeople trained in sales, or are they estimators, engineers, accountants and other professionals who don’t consider themselves salespeople? Understanding the challenges in the selling environment will help you develop a winning strategy.
Develop a strategy
When gathering the facts, consider available budget, time frame, quality of available prospect names and other information that will impact the development and success of a winning strategy.
If completely unknown, your strategy must either be a consistent effort to get your name recognized over a specified period of time or, for immediate results, be a more bold, in-your-face, notice-me-right-now technique.
To break loyalties with existing vendors, your strategy must incent prospects to make a change, to lure them away from existing relationships. Use a trial offer or a gift card toward any purchase.
If unproven, offer a free trial or money-back guarantee. Do something to take away the fear of the unknown.
If more expensive, offer a free trial so prospects can experience the difference, offer a bonus item so it feels like they are getting more or create an environment of exclusivity, such as a VIP membership or service package denoting a higher level of customer service.
If there is fierce competition, get your foot in the door by offering something free that you normally sell, work with trade associations to become a preferred or endorsed vendor or give a portion of the sale back to a cause or charity.
If salesphobia exists, make it easy for your professionals to stay in touch by making the interaction feel like a value-added touch. Arm them with quality premium items to drop off as gifts, host educational events or sponsor trade groups.
Get noticed by being memorable
Being unordinary or extraordinary is the key to getting noticed — all in fun and good taste, of course. This is where creativity can make your company stand apart from the pack. Think outside the norms and find a way to get your message in front of your prospects in a way that they can’t help but notice your company.
Appropriate action to elicit a desired response
What do you want the prospect to do? Purchase now? Pick up the phone and call you? Go to your website? Sign up for a product trial? Request a quote? Make this determination.
In any case, part of your strategy needs to include a follow-through plan, such as follow-up calls, voice mail scripts, emails, articles of interest and similar tactics. It takes eight attempts to reach a prospect to elicit a desired response. To win, you need to get noticed and then stay in the game with a follow-through strategy.
Kelly Borth is CEO and chief strategy officer for Greencrest, a 22-year-old brand development, strategic marketing and digital media firm that turns market players into market leaders. Borth has received numerous honors for her business and community leadership. She serves on several local advisory boards and is one of 30 certified brand strategists in the United States. Reach her at (614) 885-7921, [email protected], @brandpro, or for more information, visit www.greencrest.com.