Using sales campaigns to increase your competitive value
by Jim Pancero
How would you and your team answer an important customer asking “What’ve you done for me lately?” What would you talk about? How many new ideas or suggestions have you offered your better clients over the last year?
Too many experienced sales professionals have this reactive, repetitive, and singular “buy my product” approach to selling, doing little to provide more value than their competitors.
How reactive are your team’s selling efforts? Making call after call only asking the same four questions of…anything you need?...anything coming up?...anything I can help with?...and how’s the family?
Too many sales professionals are merely order takers and problem solvers following this reactive “Show up – suck up and pucker up” approach to selling where the buyer has to come up with all the new ideas…and reasons to buy from you.
When was the last time you offered your customers a new idea or suggestion that could improve their business?
Sales people get into this rut within their territory…we’ve all had it happen sometime in our selling career…where we keep calling on the same old customers… asking these same old reactive questions… talking about the “same as last year’s” seasonal or vendor-sponsored product discounts or specials available if you order now…call…after call…after call.
And even when a new idea is offered it’s always based on a “buy my product” suggestion.
How are you differentiating your efforts from your competitors? Everyone today can take an order, pick it, deliver a quality product or service and offer support when there’s a problem. Buyers today are demanding more then you just delivering what they ordered, they want your help improving their business and how they’re using your products or services.
A way to bring new ideas to your customers…to help improve their business…and strengthen their loyalty to you is to organize your year, as a sales team, into a series of selling campaigns where during each campaign all team members offer the same idea or suggestion to all of their customers or specifically targeted groups like your best and largest customers.
How many campaigns you can organize will be based on how long it takes your sales team to talk at least once to all their “A” or most important accounts, all their “B” or mid-sized customers, and about half their “C” accounts where you’re more interested in them then they are in you.
If it takes a month to complete one pass through your territory then you can organize your year into twelve separate and pre-planned selling messages. A two week cycle through your territory could generate 26 different selling campaigns and messages of value and help to your buyers.
You can still present seasonal or vendor-supported discounted packages during a campaign…but now you can also be presenting an idea that can help your customer improve their operations or profitability, even if it doesn’t generate a product order for you.
One campaign might talk about how they can better organize how they store your products. Another campaign might offer safety suggestions or productivity ideas. Have your technical team write an advanced article on various technical aspects of your products…Small business customers also value ideas on how they can sell more of what they do or improve their business operations.
The idea is to break out of the reactive doldrums and have something new… different… and of value whenever you talk with your customers.
Imagine…after a year of these types of customer-focused campaigns…how easy it’d now be to respond to a customer asking “What’ve you done for me lately?” These types of campaigns can also help you justify why…even if you’re not the lowest priced… you’re still their lowest total cost alternative…
There’re three things you’ll need to do to make selling campaigns work long term for your team.
First you’ll need to have some manager take the responsibility of campaign champion. Maintaining consistent proactive selling efforts from all members of a sales team takes constant poking and prodding. Who’ll take responsibility for leading your team’s proactive “Sales campaign” effort?
The second requirement of successful sales campaigns is pre-planning. You need to plan out your year of campaigns so you can balance and vary your campaigns over the year. This is a great time to get campaign ideas and input from all members of your sales team.
One campaign might focus on an idea that can save your customer’s money or even reduce their consumption of your product through more efficient usage. The next campaign might offer a promotional or marketing idea they can use in their business… followed by a campaign of safety suggestions.
And my third suggestion is to develop some type of printed or electronic “leave behind” that can be offered and discussed on a sales call. Supporting information always improves the “stickability” of a good idea…especially when that supporting information also has your logo and authorship.
“So what’ve you done for me lately?” Do you think strengthening your use of selling campaigns could increase your competitive uniqueness and value to your important customers?
Call me if you’d like some help strengthening your team’s sales campaigns and proactive selling efforts. Because after all…we know you’re good…now the only question is…are you and your team good enough to get better?