One of the most important aspects of selling, that we highlight at JFA, is the fact that there are actually three distinct activities that organizations should be focusing on – and they are all equally important.
However, you could be forgiven for thinking that the most critical function is new business identification – or as you may prefer to call it, lead generation. After all, a very high percentage of the articles we read these days are offering us advice on e-mail campaigns, or cold-calling, or lead nurturing, etc.
Professional coaches and trainers have a responsibility to ensure their clients understand the need to develop skills in all three of the critical selling phases, i.e.
Business Generation: This is lead generation, cold calling, email marketing, social media use, referral selling, prospect attraction, and all the skills that are needed to produce new opportunities to continually fill up that funnel. Here, we are developing suspects into qualified prospects.
The middle part of our sandwich is effectively “opportunity management” – but for the purpose of this post we will call it …
Business Management: Here we should be developing the sales skills necessary to convert a prospect into a client/customer. So, competitive profiling, qualification, presentation, proposal preparation (even major bid preparation) negotiation, closing skills, etc.
Business Development: Our final category is account management and development, which is where most companies are weakest. In their desperate pursuit and focus on generating new opportunities, 80% of organizations neglect their existing clients, despite the fact that there are so many incremental opportunities just waiting to be harvested. Here, we should be teaching “client retention” – strategic selling skills, key account management, upselling and cross-selling, political skills, etc.
And actually, it is this third area that I am writing about today, because a vitally important sales activity is that of managing existing customer accounts to consolidate and grow the relationship. Yet, unfortunately, when compared over time, the customer’s interest levels increase while salespeople’s interest levels tend to decrease. This creates a “relationship gap”and is due entirely to complacency.
Another major issue is that, too often, the salesperson fails to expand their “contact base”,as this next survey proves, which results in vulnerability and exposure to competitive activity.
Periodically, the Financial Times conducts a survey of British industry to establish how companies go about their purchasing. The survey is very comprehensive, broken down into many kinds of products and services.
Customer size (Number of employees): Less than 200
Average number of buying influencers: 3.43
Number of influencers visited by salespeople: 1.72
Customer size (Number of employees): 200 – 400
Average number of buying influencers: 4.85
Number of influencers visited by salespeople: 1.75
Customer size (Number of employees): 401 – 1000
Average number of buying influencers: 5.81
Number of influencers visited by salespeople: 1.90
Customer size (Number of employees): 1001 +
Average number of buying influencers: 6.50
Number of influencers visited by salespeople: 1.65 (No, I didn’t make a mistake, it really is only 1.65)
From a Sales Director’s perspective, these are very worrying statistics…
In essence, without a sustained approach to on-going servicing and support activities, customers that took months to win are ultimately lost, because there was a lack of interest from their supplier.
Today’s clients/customers are looking for vendors who can be business-partners, who are willing and able to share risks, and who are able to properly manage the entire sales process.
Fact: It now costs fifteen times as much to locate and sell to a new customer, as it does to an existing one.
Are you really making the most of your customer base…?