“There is only one boss: the customer. And he can fire everybody in the company simply by spending his money somewhere else.” Sam Walton
Sales is the lifeblood of every business. Surprisingly though, things often get a little cloudier when you dig deeper into exactly what, how and to who companies sell. The Worley Parsons Enterprise Development programme, managed by LEAP, recently hosted a 2 day Business Academy for 10 of their Enterprise Development companies to delve further into the subject. Through a series of workshops and interactive sessions the weekend drilled down into some crucial lessons which are often forgotten in the busyness of daily routine.
Here are some of the valuable lessons learned:
1) Start with your customer
“Marketing is talking to people that are important to your business about what is important to them.”
All too often companies try to force their products or services on to their customer – whether the solution fits or not. Instead the approach should be to understand your customer’s needs and then see how to tailor your service to this.
Research and prepare!
Understand what your customer’s needs are. Where are their gaps? What problem do they need to solve?
Understand that while they may want one thing do they actually need something different?
Understand their constraints; whether it is financial, time, quality, safety, experience and see how you can address this better than anyone else.
By doing this research, you will immediately be able to “speak their language” and differentiate yourself from the competition.
Remember, if your solution doesn’t fit, maybe you are trying to sell the wrong product or that you are trying to sell to the wrong customer.
2) Target your approach to each stakeholder.
Who are the gatekeepers that make decisions about whether your bid is successful or not? For most large companies you will need to sell to both the end user and to the procurement department.
The procurement department is who you need to satisfy in terms of hygiene factors, price and experience. To a large extent they do not differentiate you from your competitors and are largely interested only in satisfying certain minimum requirements.
The end user is who you really need to impress! If you can prove to them that your unique value proposition solves his unique problems, then he will help to do the selling for you by vouching for you!
3) Why you?
Arguably the most influential of all the elements in concluding your sale is to successfully communicate why should a client chose you over any other competitor. What makes you memorable and unique?
Are you cheaper, faster, and more skilled? Can you prove a safer track record, offer something unique, or are your service levels better than anyone else? You need to create your own unique value proposition that will differentiate you.
In so doing you will also begin to refine which clients you are particularly geared to serve.
Be careful not to overpromise without being able to deliver. If you do, you run the risk of losing the client forever or you may end up eating in to your own profits.
4) Negotiate Negotiate Negotiate
Try to understand what other options your customer has. You will then know what buttons to press and where you can (and cannot) negotiate.Remember do not give away too much too early. If you have an “ace up your sleeve” then make sure you play it at the right time. The negotiation should always protect your business but hopefully also sweeten the deal for your client. This negotiation does not always need to be on price alone, get creative – can you extend payment terms, deliver faster or improve service levels.
Make your deliverables clear and hold yourself and your client to your responsibilities.
5) Put it all together
Nothing operates in isolation. You need to put it all together into one streamlined approach. You and your entire company need to be finely in tune withyour sales pitch so that where ever you have the opportunity to sell, you will know exactly how to tell your story in a way that is relevant to your customer!