Landing New Customers

Whenever I start working with a company and they want to grow their sales, we first focus on what markets we want to grow in and which customers we want to target. We identify companies that are buying a lot of what we are selling. We ask ourselves what our strengths are and what value propositions we are bringing to the table. Why would someone give us a significant portion of their business? What skills do we have and what type of equipment do we have that put us in a good position to make our case? You can never really know if you have the skills and approach to win customers until you get into the market and start making calls.

After we have identified some possible prospects then we will make calls and arrange some meetings with these folks. Most people will see you if you can get a hold of them and make an easy to understand and straight forward approach to why you want to see them. You are not telling them you are God’s gift, you are telling them that you think you might be able to help them in this particular area and you would like to meet and discuss.

In these meetings it’s important to follow a few general guidelines.

  1. We talk 20% of the time and we listen 80% of the time.

  2. We ask a lot of open ended questions.

  3. We spend a lot of time understanding who they are, what they do, who they are working with, what problems they are having, how satisfied they are with their current vendors or situation, how much work they have to put out, etc.

  4. We do not spend a lot of time selling.

  5. No selling until you find someone who is worth selling to.

  6. If at the end of your questions, you believe that you truly have a value proposition to offer, you offer it and explain it. Believe me if you have spent enough time asking good questions and listening, many times people will be so appreciative that they will actually help you find ways to work with them.

  7. Very rarely will you close any business on your first call when you are selling business to business. You have done well if they give you a chance to review or quote on something.

  8. If the meeting went well and you feel like you can help them, then ask them if they have anything you can look at, quote on or review. From here on, whether you are on the phone with them or in person, always ask if they have something you might be able to look at.

In your first pass through the companies you have identified and called on, you are looking to identify 5-10 companies that you would like to work with and you think you could offer something to. In the first pass qualifying them and understanding them is more important than selling to them. When you leave a meeting you should be in a much better position to have the discussion internally whether or not they are a prospect worth pursuing. Remember, don’t sell initially. Qualify! Qualify! Qualify!

LeanDennis Sweeny