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Change Leads to Opportunities

12 Sep, 2008 By: Rob Gilbert imageSource

Change Leads to Opportunities

There are more than enough box sellers in the market today.  The last
thing your prospects and customers need is another one of them.  But how can you
keep your competition at bay and differentiate yourself in your market without
relying exclusively on the benefits of the equipment you sell?  The best way is
to go back to school and become a student again; a student of change.

Importantly, effective account maintenance will yield you the most profitable
sales that you can achieve as a salesperson.  Once you are viewed as a partner
in the success of your customer’s business, you will be able to provide
suggestions, input, and recommendations that will be accepted based on the care
you have taken with them.  Remember that once you have made the sale, you have
the right to visit the customer whenever you want to.  I have uncovered MANY
opportunities just by dropping in, checking on equipment performance, walking
around and looking at workflow, asking key personnel about any upcoming projects
or  initiatives in the company, etc.  We don’t have to think that once we sell a
machine to a customer, we have to disengage from the process and stay away from
the account.  Quite the opposite – find excuses to drop by.  Do you realize that
you will set yourself apart by just doing that?  Most sales reps do not visit
current customers until the time comes to upgrade them.  I’ll address this
shortly.  As the customer becomes used to your visiting them, and knows that you
are aware of what is happening with their account, they become more relaxed
about  sharing information with you, and what value you can provide.  Visit your
customers regularly and facilitate change!

How do I identify change with non customers?  By becoming a student of those
accounts, too.  There are many tools that are now available to help salespeople
gather data and information about prospects and suspects in their territories.
In order to start the sales process, you have to uncover a need.  In order to
identify the need, you must be able to discern changes in the organization, and
help the prospect realize discontent with their current process.  Here are some
tools that can help you begin a conversation on change:

Visit the prospect’s website.  Many companies have several of the

Mission statementWhat does their mission statement say?  How
does it match yours?  How impressive would it be to say to a CEO at your first
appointment; “You know, I was reading your mission statement and it matches our
mission in the following ways…”

Financial Reports. Many CEO / CFOs outline initiatives for the
upcoming year such as investing in technology, decreasing spending, enhancing
internal support, etc.  (They just identified change for you.)

Press Releases. What things do they deem press worthy?  How can you
use this to position your products?  Do they focus on community service?  Do you
have customers that fit into that category?

Access  Chamber of Commerce Lists.  Many COC’s have company lists by
employee size; by industry type, etc.  You can also get a list of new business
permits or requests for additions to build, etc.  When a company is expanding,
they are obviously experiencing change.   

Attend networking functions.  Many companies are now getting involved
in networking functions such as a Business After Hours, Net@Lunch, etc., and
expect to meet and talk wih other business professionals. 

Above all, don’t assume that the incumbent office equipment provider is performing
many of these actions.  As I stated before, the vast majority of salespeople
sell a piece of equipment and then turn their attention to the next prospect.  I
had a prospect who asked me for a demo of a copier at one of their branch
locations.  I knew that they were customers of one of my competitors.  When I
scheduled the appointment and visited the prospect, I found out that my
competitor already had a demo in the account.  What was interesting though, was
that the machine had been there for 7 days and the rep had never been back to
check on the demo.  The machine jammed on the second day, and was not working. 
I unplugged the machine, rolled it down the hall into a vacant office, plugged
my machine up and showed the prospect how to use it.  I checked back twice a day
for three days, and closed the sale using some of the tactics above.  When I
picked up the contract my competitor had come by to check on his demo
(finally).  I told him his machine was unplugged down the hall and that he could
pick it up!  I basically won that deal because the incumbent wasn’t doing his
job.  When you win business, manage your account.  Dictate the pace of the
sale.  When prospecting, look for ways to discuss change; be diligent and hold
your competition to the same standard.  You’ll find that they usually don’t
measure up.

Rob Gilbert, Sr., DSM Fleet Management Services, Compass Sales Solutions.
Robhas 20 years experience, including CPP programs from consultation to

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