Sales Tips From the World’s Toughest Customers (Inc. Magazine)
Sales prospecting can be a tough business. Depending on the industry and products sold, turndowns by buyers can exceed 80% of sales calls made by a company’s sales force. In fact, in some industries, a salesperson may be viewed as being successful if they convince less than 1% of their prospects to make a purchase. But salespeople, who are effective in finding buyers, understand that much of their success comes down to a simple concept – know your customers. Unfortunately, while this may seem relatively obvious, this concept is often lost on small business owners whose primary skills may not be in sales but must face the difficult task of getting major companies to purchase their products.
For smaller firms looking to establish their products within a large company, this story is worth reading. It gives insight into the purchasing activities of several large firms, such as Coca-Cola, Northrop Grumman and Dell, and offers concrete suggestions for what it takes to do business with these firms. While these suggestions may be identified as being specific to each of these companies, in reality the advice given here can be applied to a broad range of potential buyers. The suggestions can help a seller not only know about the workings of big companies but can provide clues on how to customize a sales presentation to meet a prospect’s needs.
What not to do: “The biggest no-no is not knowing our competition. People will say, ‘I’ve got this really exciting proposal I want you to look at.’ I’ll say, ‘Go ahead; send it to me.’ Then they send it to me by FedEx. It happens every day. Just be smart. Know the company you are pitching to and know their likes and dislikes.
What other “tips” or key points not mentioned by the insiders quoted in this story are essential for sellers to consider when trying to sell into large companies?
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