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Prospecting 101 for SMEs

13 August 2009

Although I mainly work with retailers, I sometimes work with SMEs (small to medium enterprise).

I have just written a sales program for a client and thought I would post parts of it over the next few weeks.

I have generalised it here for the sake of the blog and anonymity, but this should get you started:

  1. The most important thing is to clearly define your customer; if you don’t know who they are you won’t know where to find them.
  2. Define your competitive advantage and your features and benefits – this will help you communicate the benefit of customers buying from you.
    Always remember that you are solving a customer’s problem; the solution is to work with you as you are the best solution for them – problem solved.
  3. Know where your competitors are and identify the gaps, in terms of location or product offer.
    If you think the same customer will benefit from your stock then approach them.
    If you think that there is a better customer near the one your competitor works with target them.
  4. Know where your final customer shops (your customer’s customer) and target customers there.
    Read magazines, blogs and other media and make a prospect list from this.
    Always keep an eye out for prospects, be ever alert!
  5. Do your homework online, on the phone and on foot! Ask questions, that will lead you to the prospects. When someone says no, try to find out why (without being rude or pushy) and try and avoid this in the next conversation!
  6. Prepare a phone script – this will help you be comfortable and concise.
  7. Don’t forget referrals. If you have a satisfied customer, ask them for a referral or suggestion of another customer. A happy customer will always want to help.
  8. Keep up to date records of your prospects and where you are at with them. Don’t ring the same person with the same shpiel – the door will forever be shut to you.
  9. Follow up when you say you will – if you can’t be relied on before they buy from you, they will not be encouraged in terms of the long term relationship.
  10. When you approach them it must be in a way and language they are comfortable with. Always try and speak to someone before sending anything as this will ensure your letter/info gets opened (at least).
    Don’t bombard them with information if they are not familiar with you. Be patient and take it one step at a time.
    Email is cheap but it is not as effective as it once was. Have a hard copy to send as well as some people don’t have or like email.
  11. The customer is always right – without them there is no business.
    Be polite, genuine and professional, don’t be familiar, flirty or sleazy.
    Listen to what they are saying and respond accordingly. If you don’t know the answer to something be honest and let them know you will find out and be back to them.
  12. Do not take any comments, criticism or rejection personally.
    These are professional interactions.
    You don’t know how a prospect’s day is going, what their past experience has been, what their preferences are. You may remind them of someone horrible, they may have had a bad experience with a similar product or they could just be an apathetic business person without any foresight.
    Whatever it is, be professional and move on.
    Remember; No means NO!
    But maybe touch base again in 3- 6 months!

Happy Sales!

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