Robert Craven's book is 'Bright Marketing - why should people bother to buy from you?'. (And his latest is 'GROW YOUR SERVICE FIRM'.)
Tuesday, 8 January 2013
Asking for the business - a quick intro
Good sales people, people that love selling and build solid relationships with a base of faithful clients, are worth their weight in gold.
Many of us are nervous about asking for business but the truth is that if we don’t ask then it will go to someone else. It’s often the reputation that pushy sales people have that puts the whole process in a bad light. Nobody likes in-your-face selling, especially if it’s unsolicited.
If it’s just you on your own and your sales skills aren’t up to scratch, you might want to consider investing in some training. Meanwhile, these tips from Robert Craven, author of Bright Marketing, should help to point you in the right direction:
Put your heart on your sleeve - Too many people are shy about putting themselves forward to clients even if they are eager to work with them. They expect possible customers to pick up on their enthusiasm without doing anything.
Visiting a potential client to tell them how excited you are about the working with them is a good way to strengthen a relationship. Emphasising that the relationship could be mutually beneficial, and offering the reasons why, will allow you to introduce your products or services and explain what you do. The business ‘script’ - There are three simple questions that you can ask in order to get more business. This so-called ‘script’ can be used with existing customers who already like your business. These questions can be asked over coffee or by phone and they really do work:
‘What do you like about our business?’ – It’s simple and straightforward, but will allow you to listen to what they say and build on your strengths.
‘What do you dislike about our business?’ – Again, just listen to what they say and try not to be defensive.
‘What do we need to do to get more business from you?’ – Often, they will tell you exactly what you need to do to get more business from them. You need to be bold enough to ask the simple questions that will get you far. Referrals - Plenty of people know about referrals but how do you ask for one?
You know that the person in front of you has lots of contacts. Surely you could sell to one of them, but how do you ask for the referral so that you don’t feel embarrassed or upset the person you are talking to?
Firstly, those of you from professional service firms such as lawyers, solicitors, accountants and architects may feel that selling is a bit humiliating. Remember that some of your competitors will not feel this way and are likely to get the business.
Remember that you are in a strong position because you’re already speaking to a satisfied client. Ask if they have any contacts that would benefit from your services and show that you realise it would be rude to ask them for their names and to cold call them yourself.
Then ask them to contact them on your behalf and say that you will be in touch. A referral is like a foot in the door and will greatly increase your chances of getting more business.