Why Securing a Relationship Is More Important Than Securing a Sale

Why Securing a Relationship Is More Important Than Securing a Sale

Loyalty still exists. Yes, it’s 2018. Yes, business can be cut-throat. But people are still capable of being loyal — you just have to earn their trust.

In sales, trust is a big deal. And consistency in follow-up is what builds that trust.

We just closed a sale we’ve been pursuing diligently since 2015. Since we initially contacted the company three years ago, we’ve followed up every quarter. Now they’re buying. It’s not like they didn’t buy before — they just didn’t buy from us. But they’ve seen our consistency, and when their old vendor stopped meeting their needs, they knew who to call. Now, instead of trying to convince them that we’re worth their trust, our conversations focus on tactically solving their problems.

Why? Securing a relationship pays off — and is often even more important than securing a sale.

Customers Want a Relationship With You

Customers know what they don’t know. They know your expertise is in a different field and they need partners they trust in these different fields. Then they can rely on you to get them from point A to point D as quickly as possible, since you’ve done it before.

Relationships 101

Every relationship has a beginning, middle, and end. Maybe at the beginning of your relationship with a prospective client, they tell you, “I’m not interested in your service — my brother-in-law handles that for me and I don’t want to make family dinners weird.” As a salesperson, you know that’s a hard obstacle to overcome, so you don’t push it. Still keep in touch with them. Let them know if they’re ever in a pinch, you’re there.

Maybe things don’t work out with their brother-in-law and they later decide to change vendors. They may not initiate calling you, but if you’re regularly in contact, they have an easy opportunity to respond. This isn’t about being invasive — it’s about being available.

Make Change Easy

A consistent relationship saves your prospects the labor of the mental gymnastics it takes to choose another vendor. They don’t want to deal with the 90 steps it takes to change from one supplier to another. They don’t want to think about those logistics. But if you’re keeping in touch with them and making yourself available, you can make the change easy. You’re giving them less to deal with as they end one relationship and start another.

Ever put something off for weeks because you dread doing it? You procrastinate, agonize, and maybe even lose sleep over it. But when you finally deal with it, you knock it out in about a minute. Changing vendors can feel like that. It’s mentally taxing. Your prospects probably won’t come right out and say, “It’s a pain to switch!” but if they do, identify with them. Recognize that switching things up can be inconvenient, but if it’s a change they’ll inevitably need to make, you can make the process run smoothly.

Stay in Touch, Stay in the Game

You have to make the right number of touches with your prospects to remind them you’re still there. The trick is making those touches non-invasive. When they say, “Call me in six months,” you need to figure out how to contact them more frequently without coming on too strong. You need to trigger their brain so they know you’re still there but don’t feel like you’re being pushy.

Carve out time to make the touches. It doesn’t bring in a check right away, but it’s a foundation piece to a customer relationship you can’t skip. If you do, you’ll risk being reduced to a commodity.

Some of your contacts can be automated — like emails. Other times, you can make a phone call or drop by their office. Get creative too. Invite them to events where they can network or find leads for them through your own network. If you do, you’ll establish consistency, enrich the relationship, and build trust. And that’s how you secure a relationship.

People are loyal — but not blindly so. They’ll know when their existing vendor isn’t working anymore. You don’t have to con them out of their current commitment so they switch to you. Most sales relationships eventually end — either needs change or the business changes. And when that happens, people are looking for a new person they trust. If you’ve invested in the relationship with consistent, non-invasive contact, you’ll have earned their business and they’ll move their loyalty to you.

 

Are Sales Conferences Worth Your Time?

Are Sales Conferences Worth Your Time?

You need some motivation. You want to build your sales skills and get inspired, but are sales conferences worth your time… and money?

Usually, the juice isn’t worth the squeeze.

We often go to sales training conferences to improve our skill set and find the secret to unlocking our next level of success, but don’t get as much out of the conferences as we hope. Sure, there are a few takeaways, but for the most part, we’re inactive. We’re learning some cool tips, not building our skills.

Here’s why sales conferences don’t work and some better alternatives that will do more for your sales than any conference.

Seminars That Work (or Not)

Sales skills are tactical. Yes, you need to understand an overall strategy, but actually doing the work is when you’ll see real growth in your skills.

So skip the sales training conferences. You’ll learn more by going to ten appointments than you will by sitting and listening to someone talk about how great they are at sales. The most effective way to become a better salesperson is to pitch to more people, meet more customers, and increase your activity.

But what about self-help? Improving personal skills is a strategic way to better your sales. Self-help seminars that focus on creating a healthy mindset, increasing productivity, or using organizational strategies may be what you need. Making some personal changes can drastically affect your work and improve your effectiveness.

Best Sales Conferences of 2018

Before you choose to go to a conference, think about what you want to accomplish. What are your goals?

For me, learning about my customers’ businesses is most important. So I go to my customers’ conferences to learn from the experts in their industries. Then I can understand where they’re coming from and where their industry is going.

Maybe you’re hoping to make some personal changes that will make a difference in your approach to work. Check out Tony Robbins’ and Brian Tracy’s schedule. Their seminars on business, leadership, and personal motivation are among the best.

But want to know where the truly best sales conferences of 2018 are?

Your house, your favorite coffee shop, and in your car when you arrive a few minutes early for your appointment… via the internet. With webinars, you can learn great information at your own pace and in shorter spurts. At seminars, you learn the most in the opening and closing remarks — the info in the middle doesn’t stick. But if you break that information into smaller segments, you’ll retain more.

Webinars give you the freedom to learn at your own speed — and all the experts offer them. So, after you figure out your goals, look for webinars that provide you with the training you need to reach those goals.

For more resources, check out The 7 Unlikely Sales Books Every Salesperson Should Own [2018 Guide].

Join a Peer Group

If your business has non-competing markets, peer groups are another great alternative to improve your skills and up your motivation. Try to get together with peers to talk about operations and strategy. Maybe you know someone that sells a similar product to a different region — get together and share secrets. As long as your businesses aren’t competing, peer groups can be a great place to share tips and strategies. Plus, it’s a sounding board for new ideas and a source of encouragement from people who understand your job. You can even form an official group for perks like group purchasing!

If you’re in need of motivation, a conference may not be the solution you need. So don’t just pick a sales conference by default. Check out other sources of motivation and information to really put your time and money to its best use.

 

The One Essential Habit that Transforms Good Salespeople Into Rainmakers

The One Essential Habit that Transforms Good Sales

You know those “stand-out” people — the 20-something who climbs the ladder in record pace, the salespeople who make off-the-chart sales… every month?

They seem untouchable — but what are they doing differently to really make it rain?

Bagel + Slim Jim = A Breakfast of Champions

A few years ago, I facilitated a sales training for a company. Each member of their 20-person sales team was required to attend — except for one. They didn’t want to mess with his process. We started training after lunch, but I asked to come in early. Each morning, I got there in time to watch the guy who had clearly learned how to be a good salesman begin work. Here’s what he did.

He started each day the same. This middle-aged man came in every day with a bagel and a banana. He’d eat the banana first. Then he’d eat the bagel. Then he’d make his phone calls, schedule his appointments, and spend his afternoon going to those appointments. It was the same thing every day.

Another guy worked for me a few years later. He was a rockstar salesman who started each day with a Slim Jim, Arizona Iced Tea, and a granola bar.

Seriously? Do these breakfast foods matter? Yes! The ritual of the same breakfast made a difference in their days. It was a part of their system — it put them on the trajectory of building relationships, closing deals, and working their system.

It’s not the breakfast that matters — it’s the routine. A bagel or a Slim Jim may not be nutritional superfoods, but they were a vital part of making these good salesmen great. Why? It started their daily sales routine.

Establishing Habits for a More Productive Day

In the book Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg explains why habits are so powerful:

[Habits] create neurological cravings. Most of the time, these cravings emerge so gradually that we’re not really aware they exist, so we’re often blind to their influence. But as we associate cues with certain rewards, a subconscious craving emerges in our brains that starts the habit loop spinning.

These salesmen found success by starting their day with habits that cued their frame of mind for the day. When the sales guy eats that bagel and banana, he associates his breakfast with sales. It automatically puts him in the mood to sell and starts his craving for sales.

Remember Pavlov’s dogs? We’re not very different. When we start our day consistently — whether with gas station food, a green smoothie, or a particular song, we cue ourselves for the rest of our day.

Meanwhile, we also ground ourselves. We remind ourselves that it’s our world. As we interact with people the rest of the day, we’re grounded. By starting a day with routines, we create our own world so that the prospects are coming into our world, as opposed to trying to penetrate the prospects world.

Eat Your Breakfast

So how do you start each day? Your exact breakfast may not be the same as these guys, and it doesn’t have to be. The key is consistency. What will you do each day to set the stage for a killer sales day?

Then follow your system for sales. If you don’t have one, it’s time to start. Have you been wondering how to be a better salesperson? Using a process for managing your prospects and clients is essential.

Want to learn more about creating and honing your sales process? Check out this article: How to Close More Deals by Mapping Your Sales Process

The one essential habit to boosting your sales is establishing a routine to begin your work day. The hardest part of the day is getting started — and Slim Jim may be just the place to begin.

The 7 Unlikely Sales Books Every Salesperson Should Own [2018 Guide]

The 7 Unlikely Sales Books Every Salesperson Shoul

Most of the time we’re stressing the importance of activity in the field. Get out there and sell! But in the midst of all that activity, don’t miss the value of taking some time to read. You pick up sales skills, broaden your scope of experience, hone your grammar, improve your writing skills, and better understand your customers. Reading gives you another means of connecting with people — something you can always use in sales.

But not every book that builds your sales skills is a “sales” book. Here’s my top seven list — some of which may surprise you.

1. You Can’t Teach a Kid to Ride a Bike at a Seminar (David Sadler)

You Can't Teach a Kid to Ride a Bike at a Seminar

You don’t build sales skills by sitting in a classroom. Sales is all about doing. It’s tactical. I came across this book later on in my sales career. I was already following a similar approach to training and managing, but it helped to hear someone else articulate it.

Reading it reinforced what I’d seen as most effective — sales doesn’t have to be about forceful presentations to anyone who will listen. There’s a better — and much more natural — approach.

2. The Richest Man in Babylon (George Clason)

The Richest Man in BabylonYou may not think of this as a sales book, but it totally is. It’s about personal financial responsibility, learning to let your money work for you, and choosing wise investments. And it has two vital takeaways for salespeople.

First, salespeople need to be financially literate. The better they understand finances, the more they’ll treat their job as their own business and make better business decisions. Plus, they’ll relate to a higher level inside the organization. They’ll be able to see the financial implications of a sale for their own well-being and the well-being of their clients.

Plus, salespeople need to learn the concept of investing money so it can “have children.” What does that mean? People need to invest their money in places where it can grow and reproduce. The same is true in sales with leads and customers. How can you get your leads and customers to multiply? If you buy a lead, how will you close it and get referrals from it? Sales should reproduce.

 3. SPIN Selling (Neil Rackham)

SPIN SellingI actually didn’t love this read, but its core concept is a clutch sales strategy. It teaches you to follow a process based on the acronym SPIN. It’s an easy acronym that simplifies the steps to creating the processes you need to really boost your sales volume. You won’t reach your potential if you just shoot from the hip in your sales approach. This book gives you tools to work on your systems.

4. Simplify (Bill Hybels)

SimplifyIf nothing else, read the title — it’s a motto for salespeople. Sales is as over-scheduled and cluttered as any career. Simplify your approach. Simplify the next steps in your sales process. When you think about closing an individual piece of business, it can seem like there’s a long road ahead. Figure out the next step and focus on that. Don’t get so overwhelmed with the entire process that you can’t move forward.

5. Predictable Revenue (Aaron Ross)

Predictable RevenueEven though it’s written by one of our competitors, we still recommend this read. It’s a great guide for putting a scalable process in place that boosts your sales figures and improves your work culture.

6. The Game (Neil Strauss)

The GameThis book may be controversial for some, but here’s why we included it. It’s really about the art of breaking the ice. This is an easy book to get your salespeople to read but also helps them learn the secret behind sales — just ask! That’s it. After all, asking, “What does a guy like me have to do to buy a girl like you a drink?” isn’t much different from asking your prospects how to get from point A to point B.

7. The Ultimate Sales Machine (Chet Holmes)

The Ultimate Sales MachineThis book touches on every single aspect of closing a sale and helps you improve each part of the process. The secret is getting your team (and clients) on the same page. Need to improve your prospecting approach? Focus on it. How do you find the dream prospects, the dream appointments? Get all of your salespeople and customers active in finding them!

 

 

 

There’s not ONE right book everyone should read. You may get one or two nuggets from each book. Take those and implement them. That’s how people become successful — learn what you can from others and put it into action.

How Much Time Should You Spend Prospecting Sales?

How Much Time Should You Spend Prospecting Sales_

My first sales job was prospecting… exclusively. All day, every day I looked for new clients. Maybe this sounds miserable to some of you, but it gave me an advantage in the long run. Where most people have a lot of different jobs competing for their time, prospecting sales was my only focus. I came away with some great insights that a lot of people never learn.

Even though some people avoid prospecting in sales, it’s vital to sales success. So whether you’re wondering how many (or few) hours you need to spend prospecting sales leads or just need the motivation to re-engage in this part of the process, these tips will get you started.

Don’t Ask, Don’t Sell

If you don’t ask people to buy, they won’t just start calling you out of nowhere. If you’re not out there prospecting leads, you won’t make sales. There has to be an invitation — you have to ask. So designate specific times in your schedule to find new clients and invite them to use your product.

Prospecting Is Sacred

Guard the time you schedule to find new leads. Understand the gravity of prospecting. Prospecting time is sacred. It’s one of those things you HAVE to do if you’re going to get the sales you want. Make it non-negotiable. Tell yourself, “Unless the building is on fire, I’ll be doing prospecting activities.” Make calls, meet people, do whatever you can to meet new potential clients.

How often? Well, that requires a little math.

Work Your Numbers Backwards

How much money do you want to make this year? Use that figure to determine how much time you need to spend prospecting. Work backwards through your numbers, starting with your sales goal, to figure out exactly how much prospecting you’ll need to do.

Ask yourself:

  • How much do I need from sales each year?
  • How many clients (of what size) will that take?
  • How many proposals will it take to convert that many customers?
  • How many quotes to get that number of proposals?
  • How many contacts with decision-makers to make those appointments?
  • How many dials should I make to speak with those decision makers?

Now, just divide that number by days/weeks/months to see exactly how much prospecting you need to do.

Work Your System

Just like you systematically figure out how much time to spend prospecting, you need to have a system for dealing with your leads. Sales is all about working systems. Once you get in touch with a decision-maker, you need to have a process for how you communicate with them after that call.

What Kind of Buyer Is Your Prospect?

Based on your conversation, determine your action steps. What will the sales process be for this specific buyer?

Categorize your prospects into three groups: Activelatent, and not interested.

Make sure you have a sales process for each group. Then you just have to follow the plan you’ve already scheduled.

Active Buyer: These are the people who are ready to buy. You’ll usually follow up with them within 60 days.

Latent Buyer: These are the “tire kickers” of the world. Nurture them until they’re ready to buy. Most of your “interested” prospects fall into this category. Close your call by telling them you’ll call next quarter. Really, call them every 60 days and email them once a month until they become active.

Not Interested: These aren’t likely buyers. Maybe the prospect says, “My brother-in-law handles this. I don’t want to make Sunday dinner weird.” Just call these prospects once a year.

Related: A Sales Lead Management Process You Can Count On

Exactly How Many Hours You Should Prospect

So how much time should you spend prospecting? Just do the math. Now, you know how many dials you need to make in a month. How many can you make in one hour? If you can make ten calls per hour and you need 100 calls a month, you need to schedule 10 hours to prospect each month.

It’s all about activity. Don’t focus on results at the beginning and compulsively calculate your conversion rate. Work on getting in the habit. Once you have the activity levels, sales will follow.

Why Home Restoration Businesses Are Wasting Their Time Without Sales Lead Management Software

Why Home Restoration Businesses Are Wasting Their Time Without Sales Lead Management Software

Restoration companies need to be in the right place at the right time. When the flood comes, the fire consumes, or a pipe bursts, your company wants to be on speed dial.

But how do you get your restoration company on their short list? In home restoration, you depend on referrals. Sure, you go through regular advertising channels, but professional referrals make you stand out. To have a testimony to the professionalism and quality of your home restoration company is clutch to a homeowner or business in need.

So how do you create a strong referral program? You build intentional relationships with professionals.

It’s all about keeping in touch. You need a rhythm — a way to reach out to people regularly so you don’t fall into the rut of contacting the same agents repeatedly. Instead, you need to give your attention to as many professional contacts as possible to make sure it’s you they call when it’s time to rehab.

Consistency = Trust

A lead management tool makes this rhythm work. It helps you keep track of information so you see the right people at the right frequency.

How? First, it tells you who’s nearby. If you drive across town for one appointment, you’re not maximizing your time. You may or may not get a return. Instead, when you drive to meet a contact, you need to see 5-10 other people too, whether new prospects or people you already know. Sales lead management software that shows you who’s close makes this easy.

This tool helps you to see your professional contacts regularly. That consistency builds trust — and trust is essential to earn professional referrals. See, insurance agents are recommending you to their customers. This recommendation implies you’re an extension of both the carrier and the agent. If you don’t do a good job, that’s a direct reflection on the insurance agent and company. So, if you want to be the person they refer, you need to give them a reason to believe sending clients to you is an intelligent decision. The right tool keeps you on track — it only takes one slip to ruin that relationship. But, if you’re organized and consistent, you’re building the trust they need to feel comfortable recommending you.

Related: How to Get High-Quality Sales Referrals

Improving Your Compensation Structure

The best software for sales lead management also helps you better compensate your salespeople. See, salespeople in other industries are paid based on their sales productivity. They earn commission by getting dollars through the door. But, in restoration services, salespeople can’t exactly create their sales — they’re not starting fires or busting pipes. So instead of basing commissions on sales alone, they need a structure that incentivizes activity. Why? Activity leads to phone calls that ultimately lead to sales.

We’ve worked with numerous companies to restructure their commissions based on activity levels. Let’s say we start with a 2% commission on sales from one of your referral sources or commercial accounts. Then give your salespeople the opportunity to increase that commission percentage with activity levels. As salespeople hit the target number of appointments, lunches, phone calls, and meetings with professional references, they bump up their commission to the next level.

Related: How Much Should You Really Compensate Your Salespeople?

The goal is to keep your sales team out of research mode and in the field meeting people. It’s the face-to-face meetings that earn money — it’s walking through office doors, having lunch, and playing golf that builds the relationship.

Plus, there’s not much to research — if you need to know where the agents are, just open your CallProof app and it’ll tell you.

The Two Most Ignored Markets in Home Restoration

Most home restoration salespeople know to stay in touch with insurance agents, but there are two vertical markets they miss — and both are clients with lots of toilets.

Sounds like a joke, right? It’s not. If a property has lots of toilets, they’ll have a water problem at some point. So they need to be on your radar. Here are two specific markets this includes:

1. Property Managers of Multi-Family Properties

The more property someone owns, the more likely they are to need restoration services. Properties with multi-family units likely have a lot of toilets and water lines. So stay in contact with them. After you meet with them and initiate the relationship, tell them you’ll call once a quarter to check in. Really, call them every 60 days to make sure they’re doing okay. Then see them (face-to-face) twice a year.

If you cover a specific geographic area and you know an ice storm came through, send them an email, “Hey, I hope you’re okay. Not all of our clients are. Do you need anything?” Whether they need you or not, they’ll know you were alert and ready to help.

2. Businesses With Lots of Toilets

Businesses and other commercial entities are another missed market. Churches, libraries, factories, and school districts are prime contacts for restoration. They have assets they need to protect from fires, floods, and storm damage. Any business you assume has an on-staff maintenance person or any building over 40,000 square feet is a contact you want to have.

Let them know about the risks they have too. In the event of a sewer backup, is their maintenance staff blood-borne pathogen certified? Do they want to handle that? No, they want to outsource to eliminate risk. I guarantee, if the risk manager at their insurance agency found out that someone who isn’t blood-borne pathogen-certified was working on the sewer backup, there’d be issues. They don’t want to do that — it just puts them at risk.

When you meet with asset owners of these businesses, make them aware of the risks they face. Here’s just one (true) story of why letting the pros handle cleanup is best.

During a busy time of year, a restoration company hired a temp to help with janitorial work. The guy they hired had a history of heroin use and intravenous needles. He worked a few hours of a sewer cleanup (wearing full protective gear) before he quit and walked off the job.

Later, he sued them because he tested positive for hepatitis C… and he won. He had 20 years of needle usage in his history, but after working less than a day on a cleanup with blood-borne pathogens won the lawsuit. And they’ll win every time. That’s how dangerous some of these issues are.

The Real Value of Relationship

Having a relationship with your company is helpful to you — but it’s valuable to agents and owners too. Sometimes, they don’t understand that the best deals don’t come out of the phone book. If they start looking for a restoration company during a 2:00 a.m. emergency, they won’t get special treatment. In fact, they’ll likely get a hefty bill and a lot of stress. Help them understand this. A pre-existing relationship with your company protects their assets (and bank accounts) during unexpected crises.

Craft Beer Distribution: How to Get Your Beer into More Restaurants

Craft Beer Distribution- How to Get Your Beer into More Restaurants

A guy walks into a bar — not just any bar, a brewery. This place makes great beer — but no one knows about it yet. So the guy asks the owner, “Have you thought about getting your beer into more restaurants and bars?”

“Are you a distributor?”

“No, but I know a way you can do it yourself.”

“Well,” the owner replies, “I have an agreement with my distributor not to sell my product directly. Otherwise, they’re not going to bring my product to all of their customers.”

“Well, there’s a different way… and it doesn’t violate that agreement.”

What if you could get people to ask your distributor for your beer? You don’t have to distribute, and you’ll give your distributor more business. Now that’s how to sell beer.

How to Promote Your Beer Distributors

So how do you compete against the big distributors who have thousands of brands? It’s not as complicated as you may think.

In fact, you do the same thing everyone in the beer distribution business does — you walk into bars and restaurants and talk to the owners. You meet people. You put together events that promote your product. You hand out free beer mugs, tap handles, and swag. You say, “This is the best beer in the world. It’ll sell like crazy. Ask your distributor about it.”

But you add one extra piece of information at the end of your promo: the distributor’s name. Make it personal. Say, “Hey, Ralph is the guy that distributes beer to your store. You see him every other day. Ask him about it tomorrow.”

That one extra piece of info makes all the difference. See, if you just tell them the general, “Ask your distributor,” they won’t. You have to make it specific.

Related: Tell the Story, Make the Sale: Sales Conversation Starters to Improve Your Pitch

And you can even tell your distributor what you’re doing. You aren’t a prisoner to the distributor. Just say, “Hey, I know you distribute beer for my competitors too. That’s great — you’re the one there and they buy from one person so they don’t have a million invoices. I get it. I don’t want to run trucks; you don’t want to make beer. But I’m going to go increase your sales for you for nothing. I’m going to get them to order more beer from you and it’s going to help us both.”

Your goal is to influence the buying decisions.

How to Keep Track of the Distributors

But how do you get the information you need to be successful? Well, you could research and get organized before you see each new place… but you’ll miss out on about five stops you could have made during that time.

Instead, you need some sort of mechanism to keep track of all those distributors. You need a tool that tells you the name of the distributor, what’s important to them, and what’s selling in that area as soon as you walk through the door. An app like CallProof keeps that info at your fingertips.

How a CRM Keeps Your Craft Beer Distribution Contacts Organized

When you’re looking for a good CRM, you may think you want something that emails a report at the end of each day. You want it to include where you went today and where you plan to go tomorrow.

But here’s what you need:

You need a tool that gives people on the street a way to enter information about their stops so that you get quality information. Otherwise, it’s just garbage.

Just because a salesperson tells you they stopped somewhere, doesn’t mean they did. What are you going to do — call and ask, “Hey, was he really there?” Of course not. Managers don’t call, and salespeople don’t make all the stops they claim to make. They go out and see a few people in the morning and a few others in the afternoon. Then they tell you they went to 20 places, when they really went to the same five places that morning they visit every Tuesday because they’re buddies. It’s not the way it started. It’s not even what they want. But after 18 months selling beer to place after place, that’s the way it ends up.

See, they probably drove past four bars on their way to see one they visit every Tuesday. Why aren’t they stopping? Well, they don’t have the information they need to be successful. They think, “I’ve got to stop in a new place and interrupt someone’s day to have an uncomfortable conversation. Even if the conversation turns out good, I have to remember everything we talked about, take it back to my office, and try to enter it all into a program that doesn’t work right. This is a waste of everyone’s time. Instead, I could just go the bar I always visit and they’ll keep ordering beer.”

Related: Why Your Salespeople Hate Using Your CRM – And How to Change Their Minds

What’s driving your beer sales right now is not your sales team — it’s the distributors. But if your salespeople had a mechanism to hold them accountable and give them information about nearby restaurants so they can make each stop worthwhile, that could change.

If you’re making great beer, more people should know about it. With the right tools, your sales team can make that happen.

How to Sell Food Products to Grocery Stores Without Competing on Price

How to Sell Food Products to Grocery Stores Without Competing on Price

If you’re like most wholesale grocers, you work more with existing accounts than new customers. You built a client list early on, and now you focus on their orders and maintaining their accounts. Most of the time, they need the same products, depending on the season, and you essentially just take their orders.

You can do more.

And it doesn’t take much to see those sales increase. See, the same order keeps your sales the same. But if you can get your current clients to increase their orders, your sales jump too.

How do you do it? You keep your thumb on the pulse of the local market.

You’re already equipped. You’re already in the market. You just have to put your resources together.

How to Sell More to the Grocery Stores You Already Serve

Your current customers are your best prospects. So how can you get them to buy more? This isn’t about changing their marketing strategy in an effort to increase foot traffic. It’s about selling more food to the people who already come. You do that by keeping the top items in stock and adding items that sell in other places. If something is flying off the shelves at the store down the street, it’d fly off the shelves here too.

How do you know? Typically, you live near the stores you sell to. You’re in the same region, shopping for the same food as everyone else. So if, as a customer, you notice stores can’t keep Sunset Farm Foods Cracked Pepper Sausage stocked, let your stores know about it. They’ll order more, increasing their sales…and yours! It’s a win-win.

How Product Tracking Works With a CRM

If you’re a wholesale grocer living in your sales market as a consumer, you have this unique sales opportunity — but most don’t take advantage of it. If you want to be different and really maximize your position, you need a way to keep track of what’s selling in real time.

Maybe while you’re shopping you realize, “Whoa. That product sold out and people seem to like it!” You’re highly unlikely to drive back to the office and put that in the CRM so you can remember to tell the store rep next time you talk. Maybe you make a note on your phone or in a notebook, but that’s it.

What if you could make a note in your CRM as easily as you can in your phone’s notes app? That’s where a mobile CRM becomes a game changer. If you can log your product notes about what is selling, you’ll naturally start suggestively selling to your clients.

Related: The Value of Having ALL Sales CRM Data in One Place

You’ll move to a consultative approach in your sales rather than just taking repeat orders.

Principal-Led Sales

Only people with a vested interest in the success of the business — that’s either asset owners or people with the research at their fingertips — use the principal-led sales approach. You may not be the asset owner of your company, but with a mobile app like CallProof, you can have your resources with a couple of clicks.

If you make your notes about hot products as you shop in the various stores you sell to (or other stores nearby), you can pull up those notes geographically. The best CRM doesn’t just sort your clients alphabetically — it sorts them by location. Then, when you approach the grocery store rep for their next order, you’ll be able to quickly see notes about what they need to increase and what’s selling in stores close by. They’ll then have the knowledge they need to add products or increase quantities so they sell to their potential.

How to Keep Products on the Shelves

Once a product is on the shelf, you have to figure out how to keep it there. So follow these steps:

1. Suggest things based on what’s selling, not on what’s “predicted” to sell or what they always order.

If a product expires without selling, they won’t order it anymore. You have to keep your thumb on the pulse. Have conversations with people to know what’s moving. Then the products you suggest will be products that actually sell.

2. Take notes in your CRM.

As you have these conversations or notice certain items selling like hotcakes, make notes in your CRM so you can track it in real time. Take notes from each store you visit to see your aggregate experience. What sells best in your region?

3. Suggest products to department managers.

Based on your notes and conclusions, make your suggestions to the people who manage those departments. If you take the notes down right away in CallProof, you’ll be able to recall those notes instantly when you visit anywhere nearby.

4. Become the guru!

When you follow these steps, you become the all-knowing salesperson. Why? No one else does this! You’ve got the information — you see their competitor’s sales sheets and you have the conversations with managers from stores across the region. Use that knowledge to help everyone boost their sales!

So how do you sell more food products to grocery stores? Use a mechanism that tracks your notes geographically in real time from your mobile device combined with your insight and relationships. Grocery reps need someone on their side — someone to help them provide the products their customers are looking for. And you’re just the person to help them do it.

5 Steps to Build a Steady Home Health Marketing Pipeline

5 Steps to Build a Steady Home Health Marketing Pi

If you’re in home health marketing, you’ve got a unique set of challenges. You’re not marketing to people who will buy your service, but to the people you want to recommend it to. You’ve got a guy being discharged from the hospital who needs home health aftercare. Who gives him the referral? The hospital. And how do they decide who to refer? Well, they have two options:

  1. Choose at random from a list of companies
  2. Refer a person they’ve come to know and trust

You can be that person — but it takes intentionality and follow-through. With these five steps, you’ll build a steady pipeline and see your home health sales rise to a new level.

1. Identify Referrals

Who are you contacting regularly? As you’re planning how to market your home health care services, consider the different types of people you’re visiting. There are two types of referral sources: active and prospective.

Active referrals are the people you already know. They’re the companies who already send patients your way. Now, you just need to keep that relationship steady.

Prospective referrals are hospitals or doctors you’d like to win over. It’s time to start making face-to-face visits and building the relationships.

Who are your referrals now? Make a list. Do you need more active referrals or prospectives on your list?

2. Find a Rhythm

Now, think about how often you visit these contacts. Visits shouldn’t be random — they’re planned and intentional.

For your active referrals, set a routine period for seeing them — every 30, 45, or 60 days (depending on what works for you and feels right).

Then schedule time to get to know your prospective referrals. Fact: It takes 5 visits for hospitals and doctors to know who you are and what you do. Sure, they’ll know what you do and why you’re there sooner, but it takes five visits for them to understand that you’re interested in their referrals and willing to earn them by maintaining a relationship.

They have lots of people working to earn their referrals for different products and services — sales equipment, pharmaceuticals, medical supplies, and home health. But after five visits, it’ll click. Even if it takes you 10 months to see them five times, that’s okay, as long as your consistent.

3. Be Consistent

Make your visits consistent. Consistency builds trust — and hospitals and doctors want to feel comfortable recommending their patients to you. So, if you’re routinely coming by the office, following through on what you say, and generally proving yourself to be organized and reliable, you’re building their confidence in you.

4. Use the Waterfall Approach

Once you know what types of referrals you have and set a schedule for maintaining consistency, simplify your sales funnel. Keep your prospective client visits simple and in the same stage. Let’s say this month I meet five new prospective referral sources. Next month, I’ll visit those same five again (so I’m on the second visit). I keep this going until the fifth month when I “re-classify” them as active referrals. Then I’ll find five new prospectives to put through the five-visits rotation. This way, you’re building a healthy pipeline so your sales don’t drastically move up and down.

5. Use the Right Tools

You can do what’s traditionally been done in sales by generating a list of people to see. Then you can see those same people over and over again hoping it’ll pay off.

Or you could find some sort of mechanism to keep track of how many visits you have with each provider, see who the providers are, and identify new providers.

We like tools. Tools also help us see the true value of each referral. Salespeople sometimes mistakingly place the value in the kind of relationship they have with a provider, not how many people that hospital or practice can actually send them. In doing so, they miscalculate the return.

Maybe they think Joe, the single general practitioner, is their best customer. But he’s only one doctor in the practice. Really, Suzy might be the better customer because she has six people who send referrals. But, without the numbers, a salesperson may misidentify that value. The value of the relationship isn’t in how “cool you are” with that person — it’s what the potential is.

Remember, your current customers are your best prospects. So figure out their value and invest your time accordingly.

Bottom line: Keep in touch with your referrals regularly because your competitors aren’t doing the same. They’re only keeping in touch with the current active referral sources. They’re not seeing new people and they don’t have a rhythm. They’re working off spreadsheets and memory, or some CRM solution that’s data-entry heavy that they only use because it’s a job requirement. They’re not using it as a tool. They’re using it as “a thing I have to do to keep my job.”

CRMs should be built for salespeople to want to use. A CRM is helpful, not time-consuming. In fact, it should take less than two minutes to update and input so you can do it while you work — from anywhere. You shouldn’t have to go back to an office to enter data.

So use a CRM like CallProof that keeps you working your plan and doesn’t let your referrals fall through the cracks.

Related: A Complete Guide to Sales CRM Implementation

While your competitors are taking shots in the dark, you can methodically and consistently work your plan to a better pipeline and better sales.

Tell the Story, Make the Sale: Sales Conversation Starters to Improve Your Pitch

Tell the Story, Make the Sale

How much does a polar bear weigh?

Answer: Enough to break the ice.

Okay, maybe it’s the cheesiest pickup line ever, but it accomplishes an important task: it opens the door to conversation.

The best sales conversation starters do the same. They tell a short story to open conversation — a story about what problem you can solve for other people and how it might help your prospect, too.

Make Your Story About the Solution

Successful companies don’t exist because people needed something to do. They exist because they solved someone’s problem.

Think about a screw company. No one said, “I’d just really like to make screws!” Instead, someone likely heard, “We need a screw for this material, and no one makes it.” They thought, “I could do it!” And now they have more orders than they can fill.

When you meet new prospects, center your story on the problem you solve. Explain, “Here’s what I do and here’s how it helps you.” It’s less about I and more about you. The story stays focused on the customer’s needs — you just happen to be delivering the solution.

With Callproof, sometimes when we’re meeting new prospects we don’t even show them the demo. Once we tell them why we exist, they say, “This is exactly what we need.” I just agree and show them where to sign.

People also like to know why you decided to solve the problem in the first place. Think about any reality show from Shark Tank to American Ninja Warrior. How do they introduce each contestant? They tell the story of why they do what they do. Why did they invent this new gadget? What pushed them to train so hard? Then, if we identify with their story, we’re rooting them on to the end. The story does two things: it captures our attention and then gives us something to believe in.

Apply this to sales. If you want people on board, start with a story worth listening to.

How to Tell Your Story

How do you come up with such a great hook for your future customers? First, describe how your company started. When were you first introduced to the problem you now solve?

Then think about your first two customers. What was their biggest problem and how did you help? What did your solution do for their business?

Sounds simple, right? But there’s a catch — you need to know why your customers use you. If you don’t know, ask them.

Once you identify the why, you’ll be able to tell a story that helps prospects envision how you’ll change things for them too.

Related: Sell the Value of Your Product, Not the Price

Make the Sale

Then the story sells the product for you. You’ve built your pitch into the story when you tell them why people choose you. Don’t push a traditional sales pitch on them. You’ll never hear me spitting facts out about our 90% repeat customer rate, etc. Skip the statistics and stick with the story.

Then ask about them. What’s their story? They’ll tell you their story, the problem you solve will likely show up, and they’ll buy.

What About the Numbers?

When the conversation starts to get into the numbers and facts, be prepared. Either know the stats they want to know or set up a time for their technical people to connect with your technical people. Just keep the stats in perspective. The story will sell better than the fact sheet any day.

In case you’re still wondering about those polar bears, the females tip the scales at about 550 pounds and males at 990.