In these precarious and unpredictable times, you have two choices—you can deploy a defensive sales strategy or an offensive sales strategy. If you choose to run defense, you will sit and weather the storm, stop spending and buckle down for a tough year. On the other hand, if you choose to run offense, you will become proactive and savvy, and show your clients you can and will grow their businesses in 2009.
How to do it? Here's your playbook:
1. Sell solutions.
Don’t just sell promotional products, sell promotional solutions that will help your clients grow their business. Industry surveys have shown advertising specialties provide a better cost-per-impression ratio than most other advertising media including magazines, newspapers, radio and TV. So, when your clients say they have decreased their marketing budgets, take the opportunity to educate them on the value and power of your promotional solutions.
2. Market, market, market.
Your first instinct may be to make cuts to your marketing budget—fight it! With your competitors retreating, now is the time to invest, increase awareness and build market share. People are still buying.
3. Create a promotional campaign.
Practice what you preach—this is your opportunity to create your own promotional campaign using the products you sell. Develop a creative and strategic direct mail campaign or event for your ideal profitable customers. But remember, even the best direct-mail campaigns don’t make the phone ring. Make the time to proactively follow up with the recipients of your campaign. Doing so can increase your response results from an average 2 to 3 percent to over 40 percent. The fortune is in the follow up.
4. Sell, sell, sell.
Allocate more time to conducting face-to-face meetings with your clients. Don’t assume they have cut their budgets or don’t need to hear from you. Your new direct-mail campaign gives you the opportunity to call your ideal clients and prospects, set meetings and find out what their marketing and promotional plans are for 2009. Show them you care about their business, regardless of the economy.
5. Offer promotional specials.
Present something more valuable to inspire your customers to buy now. Promotional suppliers are extending great promotional offers, clearance and special deals to help you and your clients.
6. Invest in your sales skills.
Now more than ever, you have to be more strategic, proactive and compelling to influence your customers and prospects to want to do business with you. This is the opportunity to hone your selling skills and transform your approach from transactional selling to positioning yourself as a promotional sales expert. Build your confidence, create a positive attitude, and most importantly, be optimistic.
7. Collaborate with customers.
When you co-create solutions with your clients, they are more apt to buy. Engage them in the selling process and ask them more questions to really understand their business needs, as opposed to just their promotional needs. Here are a few questions that will open up the conversation and provide clues, allowing you to understand them better and facilitate the collaboration process: What are the biggest challenges in your business? What are the biggest challenges in your role? How will you increase business this year?
Lisa Leitch, CSP, CAS, is a strategist, speaker and coach with Teneo Results who specializes in the promotional industry. She works with sales teams to transform the way they are selling and achieve more in their life. Check out Teneo’s new Sales Revolution Interactive Group Coaching program at www.salesrevolution.ca.