03 Apr Selling Strategy Secrets: Get to Know Your Customers
Your prospective customers probably know more about you and your products than you know about them. So, who’s got the upper hand in the sales process? Let’s just say it’s not the person proposing the deal.
What does it mean to “know” your prospective customers?
In the past, we didn’t need very much information about customers. Demographics and the size of the market was enough for us to play ball. Now we also need psychographics, personas, data mining, etc. Frankly, we must know how our buyers behave if we want to get their attention.
Here’s how to step up your game and become an informed salesperson:
- Look at who you already serve (CRM and accounting records). Do they represent the direction you want to keep going? If so, use the intelligence the database holds to go after more people like them.
- See who your competition is targeting. Who are their current customers? What segments are they going after? What opportunities are available?
- Do some market research through a survey or focus groups. Make it an annual activity with current buyers, so you stay ahead of the competition with fresh insights.
- Always do market research before going after new types of customers or have a new product to promote. Your gut tells you where to get started, but it doesn’t deliver the details.
- For B2B companies, stay apprised of the activities in your customer’s leading industries. They expect you to speak competently about their everyday challenges in business.
Segment Your Marketing Efforts
Marketing to just one persona is not likely to bring in the revenue you need to survive. Also, generalized marketing does not work for empowered buyers.
If you are B2B, then define the type of companies you want to work with before examining their buyers. If you are B2C, clarify who are your buyers vs. end-users (if applicable) to successfully cater to both.
Ultimately, people buy from people, so sales requires an individual approach that’s also scalable. Do this by building your buyer personas based on roles, not necessarily positions or titles. A purchaser for one company can have some of the same responsibilities as an office manager in another company. You define the targeted roles in context to your business’s services and flesh out the details of the buyer from there.
Just like buyers, you should be choosy in your prospecting to increase the chances of landing opportunities. Qualifying a lead because they are breathing is completely unacceptable today. It means you don’t know who they are and what they want. An awkward position to be in for pitching anything.
Every customer has dilemmas to solve at any given moment. Faster collection of payments, less expensive parts for a product, more collaborative vendors, and the list goes on.
These dilemmas change over time as external and internal factors shift. Solutions are found, and new problems crop up. For instance, a change in regulations opens the door to new opportunities, but now there are clearly operational gaps in delivering the services to a broader market. Movement is constant for growing companies.
These shifts, business or industry wide, are the best time to get your foot in the door. Here’s how you can stay apprised:
- Set up Google Alerts for the most desired industries to see when important announcements are made, then you have a common point of interest when you reach out to associated connections.
- If you are targeting specific companies, create google alerts on them and their people. Set up folders in your inbox to stay organized. Your next email might be your window of opportunity.
- Who’s been hired/fired?
- Any reorganization?
- New product announcements?
- Any bad press or negative reviews?
- Before approaching a prospect, do some research online for the items above so you can speak intelligently about their business. One misstatement at this stage can write you off.
- LinkedIn’s Newsletter tool means you will automatically get email updates about your connections in the news. So, keep making good connections.
Communicate to Build Connection and Trust
You need to generate trust as quickly and early on as you can with a prospect. It’s accomplished through the demonstration of your understanding of them.
Specifically, you (and the company you represent) know exactly where they are coming from and have purposed in sales, services, and all other activities to fully support their success.
Summarize this “understanding” in your sales collateral.
- Customize it to the type of buyer. Develop them for the verticals you are targeting, such as industry, decision-maker, or location.
- Match their level of formality in writing style and graphic design.
- Refer to public events, activities, and news that affects them and people in their local area.
- Speak their language; use their in-house jargon.
This strategy should appear in your one-pages, brochures, emails and any other materials viewed by the prospect.
Stephen R. Covey said, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” And that fully applies to sales if you want them to be confident you can fulfill their needs.
How else do you get to know your prospects? Please share your strategies in the comments box below.