Secrets to optimising F2F selling time with genuine decision makers

Ask any of your sales people what their ideal working day involves, and you’re likely to get a response along the following lines:

  • ‘Attending a meeting where the prospect was really interested in our offering’
  • ‘Not having to make myself go through the same old sales patter to someone I know isn’t going to make a purchase’
  • ‘Getting a “yes” at the end of the meeting – rather than being told that everything needed to be run past senior management and that I’d need to come back another day to talk them through it’

In other words, sales people want to sell. But only when the contacts they’re meeting are genuine decision makers: the people with an interest in their product or service and the authority to make the decision to purchase.

And more often than not, these optimum circumstances prove elusive for businesses that sell their product or service to the constructive, built environment and industrial markets.

Instead, common scenarios include sales people who lack confidence when cold calling, who only sell what they’re comfortable with and who fail to expand their networks proactively. They’re successful once they get in front of the right people, but don’t take the necessary steps to get themselves there.

So how do you set about optimising F2F selling time with genuine decision makers? Read on to discover our customer engagement secrets.

Define your ideal customer to understand how you can help them

It sounds obvious, but if you want to be in with the best chance of converting a lead into a customer, you need to make sure that the prospects your sales people are meeting are your ideal potential customers.

A good place to start is by defining your ideal customer, building a profile of them and then developing a strategy to target them proactively.

Factors to home in on include their industry, job title, pain points and goals. Once you start thinking along these lines, you’ll find it easier to define precisely how your product or service will help them overcome their challenges – and that’s where you can really start to add value once you get in front of them.

Develop a strategy to target your customer effectively

Once you’ve defined your ideal customer, the next step you need to take is to set out precisely how you’re going to go about engaging them.

An effective customer engagement strategy should include the following elements:

  • Market research, so that you have an understanding of your prospects before you contact them
  • A telemarketing team to start a qualifying dialogue with your potential customers and educate them about your product or service – and, crucially, filter out those contacts who won’t benefit your business
  • Sales people who are genuinely passionate and informed about your product or service, to convert leads into customers

Understand routes to market, supply chains and the decision making process

It’s all very well knowing who your ideal customer is, but if you’re trying to convert them at the wrong stage of the sales process, you’re not likely to meet with success.

  • Always consider the wider decision making unit (including third party influencers) and target decision makers at each stage of the process
  • Develop a strong understanding of routes to market and supply chains – once you have this, you’ll be able to capitalise on opportunities to diversify and expand
  • Track the market effectively by utilising industry lead services such as Glenigan, and cross-referencing them with your market intelligence and industry expertise

It may be that your business doesn’t have the capability or capacity to execute all of these elements in-house. In these circumstances, it’s highly effective – and cost-effective – to outsource your telemarketing and business development to a proven expert.

In doing so, you’ll allow your sales people to focus on what they do best: converting genuine decision makers into customers.

Ensure your sales people are fully briefed when they meet prospects

Not only should your sales people be passionate advocates of your proposition, they should become experts on your prospect’s business too.

There’s nothing more irritating than meeting someone who is only interested in pushing their own product or service. Rather, your people need to continue the dialogue that was initiated during the telemarketing process, whether this was carried out in house or outsourced.

When in meetings, your sales people’s ultimate focus should be on how they can genuinely add value to your potential customer’s business. In this way, they’ll be successful in differentiating your business from the competition – and will give your prospects a definitive reason to choose you.

Have an agile, proactive approach to qualify every opportunity

Achieving ROI on your sales spend is an ongoing challenge – especially in the post-recession environment where the sales landscape has shifted and opportunities don’t present themselves so readily.

If your sales people attend a meeting with someone who isn’t a key decision maker – or who isn’t fully engaged with your product or service – it’s squandering your investment. Not only will they not convert the opportunity, they’re not building relationships that will benefit your business in the long term.

But how do you make sure you’re getting in front of the right prospects?

Ultimately, it comes down to your early opportunity generation and qualification process. Telemarketing is a common tactic in construction, built environment and industrial markets because it can yield such fruitful results. Whether you do this in house or outsource it, you need an effective process to make it successful.

Ensure that every opportunity is properly qualified by having a proactive, agile customer engagement strategy. That way, your sales people only attend meetings with key decision makers who can influence the selection, specification and procurement of your product or service.