Recently, I had the great privilege of working with a Sales Team in an industry closely related to one of my passions. I was asked to conduct the sales training in person, rare by today’s standards. It was not a problem for me when I heard where the client’s office was located. OOn that Monday morning, I hopped in my car and made the drive south from my house to a place very familiar to me. Over 30 years prior, and nearly at the exact spot, I had started a job in aviation. This time I headed in for a very different purpose. As I entered the office, the familiar aroma of a long-lost friend, jet fuel, wafted over me as I peered out the massive windows that looked out onto the airport runway.For the next three days, I would have to contain my enthusiasm as I was here to conduct sales training, not to watch planes. As fun as that would have been, there was much work to do.
The group I was working with was professional, knowledgeable, and passionate about their Industry. It was clear that they knew their product, their competitors’ products, and their services. There was incredible interaction from the team, and we got the opportunity to debate some age-old sales scenarios as they related them to their selling process. One item we discussed was selling new customers versus existing clients, the differences, and the importance of all segments to the business. This got me thinking.
Quite often, we have the role of acquiring business from various sources. This opportunity can be new sales that we prospect, or that call into our business. It can be referrals, or existing customers that we know have experienced our brand and know our services.Some conversations will be easier than others when prospects and clients want to buy, and some will be more difficult when they don’t. As sellers, we have to constantly juggle our priorities and our pipeline to keep a steady flow of prospects saying yes. As hard as it might be, this is a constant battle we face, particularly with existing customers. I think the word "existing" throws salespeople off a bit. We have them, they buy from us. They will call or contact us when they need something, right? Says who?
If we are not in regular contact with our existing customers, how do we know that other sales forces selling similar products have not infiltrated our business? And now call our customers, their customers? We Don’t. Therefore, we have to delicately balance the art of professional persistence versus pestering. For some, this can be a challenge. What do I say? What do I do? It can be as simple as:
“Hey Mary, I have not heard from you in a few weeks and thought of you when working with another customer this week.” Fairly simple, and very unassuming. Not sure why or how anyone might be offended by that, even if they are too busy to respond. About the worst that can happen is they do not respond, right? A percentage may not, but a percentage will. That’s sales, it is our job to stay in contact with customers.
How many times have we contacted a new prospect, and they do not call us back? What do we do? Give up? No, we rethink our strategy and try to create a new value-added statement or email to get the appointment. So why would we treat existing customers any differently? Avoid letting complacency beset you. Gone are the days of letting your customers sit without some sort of contact, because if you do, the competition will surely seize the opportunity.
Recently, a friend told me about how his daughter had just applied for a job. She had sent an email and heard nothing back. He pressed her a little on the subject of sending a follow-up email, and he was stunned by her response. “Dad, I sent an email, you can’t pester them.” I hope I am wrong about this, but I doubt she will get the job, not because of her lack of talent but more likely because of her lack of persistence. In today’s hyper-competitive world, we need to be maniacal about our prospects and existing customers to ensure total success. Otherwise, we are creating a revolving door with our clients, where we educate them, sell them, service them, and then lose them because we are afraid of being a pest. For me it is simple, sellers need to be sellers, always.
Roger McNamara Bio:
Roger is a 25+-year veteran of the Payments Industry, most recently as the Director of Business Development with American Express in the US. He has worked on the largest Acquisition targets for acceptance across multiple industries and across the globe that include: Airlines, Communications, Technology, Cruise Lines, Entertainment, Fractional Jet, Freight, Government, Healthcare, Insurance, Oil & Gas, Residential Rent, Restaurants, QSR’s, Retail, Services, Supermarkets, Travel, Vehicle Sales, B2B and Wholesale. Over that time, he has sold more than $200 Billion worth of Card processing and became an expert in Bankcard Interchange and Discount Rates, how they are calculated and what merchants pay to accept Credit, and how this is dramatically different from what they believe they pay. He is an expert in Merchant Statement analysis and payment processing and the rules and regulations associated with payments and the associations. Roger has also developed the insight for Merchant Services Salesforces and salesforces, in general, to be able to better position their products and gain share, particularly in B2B. Let him show you how you can too. He can be reached at Guide2Interchange@gmail.com