You know I ain’t one to brag, but I’ve been selling to businesses for 18 years, to multiple sectors, across 20 countries. I’ve made some of the mistakes myself, and they can set you back up to 6 to 9 months. That’s sort of okay in a big corporate where you have a bunch of clients, but in a start-up or small business, these mistakes make all the difference in the survival of your business.
How to avoid basic business to business sales mistakes
Poor product knowledge
Tie incentives to product and market knowledge. All great sales people make their client’s business, their business. Buyers are more informed than ever, to set yourself apart you must be an expert in your field.
Too much or too little contact
There is no one rule on how much or how little contact you have with clients. You’re dealing with people, and everyone is different. I call contacts between once-a-month to six weeks. I contact them more frequently if, and only if I have something to give them that will add value to them or their business – in this way they won’t feel stalked, but looked after.
Inconsistent sales team
is down to poor training and lack of standards. This can easily be corrected by implementing minimum standards across the sales team in all aspects of the business. It’s like having an editorial house style – every good media company has a standard of how their brand is presented; the same should apply to sales people. More on that in another post.
Slow response to client requests
Implement service level agreements, e.g. respond to all client requests within 6 hours. If the request is time consuming, call and acknowledge their request; give them a date when they will receive the desired information. And deliver it ahead of time.
No help in optimising spending
The best approach is to treat their budget like your budget. What would you honestly do if you had their budget? Clients will appreciate your integrity and you’re building trust.
Multiple points of contact
This can be a tricky issue, especially if your organisation has sales people and “product” people. The product people have greater technical knowledge and they create the product your company sells. But you must have one primary contact ultimately accountable for all client contact. As long as both “departments” share knowledge (best done in person rather than depending on CRM where not everyone fills them in), you’re both informed to decide when it’s appropriate to contact them again.
Also, as a rule of thumb, sellers should maintain multiple contacts within client organisations; each with differing seniority and responsibilities, but all of which are influencers in the buying process. So you shouldn’t find yourselves both calling the same people on a weekly or monthly basis.
What are your thoughts, folks? How do you or your company keep your clients happy? How do you maintain sales consistency across the team? Would love to hear your experience.