A simple way to increase the effectiveness of your industrial marketing is to make a company-wide commitment to bring value to every interaction you have with your prospects. This value must align with your strategy and position your company as knowledgeable, empathic, and caring.
In addition, this value you bring grows over time as you gain prospects attention, interest, and ultimately their desire. The key point is that trust-building is a function of time and your salespeople need to properly balance their desire to build trust with their overwhelming desire to close the sale and move on.
It’s been my experience that many “old-school” salespeople are in far too much of a hurry to try to close sales without taking the time to build trust. In effect your salespeople impede their results by going too far. I like to offer my industrial marketing consulting clients the following contrarian observation, “To speed things up you need to slow things down.”
It’s easy to do this and the results are worth the effort.
The first step is to get on the radar of your prospects. As the old saying goes people buy from people they know, like, and trust. In order for you to gain trust from your prospects must have a laser-like focus on their needs and offer them real value over a period of time. The simplest way to do this is to send them educational information out over a period of time with a linked sequence of letters, tip sheets, special reports, or case studies. I strongly advocate using direct mail. You must mail them a minimum of three times over three weeks.
The second step is for your salespeople to follow up these mailings, qualify the prospects (particularly for need), and propose an additional educational offer. Now here is where it gets interesting. While many salespeople like to follow up with these mailings by attempting to schedule an onsite meeting with the prospect, I like to suggest an intermediate step. This intermediate step is a 10-15 minute phone call to get a better understanding of the prospect’s issues and build trust.
There are four main ways you benefit by adding in this step to your selling process.
It is often much easier for a salesperson to get a wary or skeptical prospect to agree to schedule a quick phone call. Second, if a prospect is unwilling to spend 10-15 minutes on the phone with a salesperson it’s unlikely they will want to spend an hour or two for an onsite sales appointment. Third, it helps the salesperson build the relationship and trust. Last, it allows the salesperson to properly qualify the prospect and avoid making expensive and unqualified onsite sales appointments.
While it may seem counter-intuitive to encourage your salespeople to not press for an onsite sales appointment what you may well discover is by slowing the selling process down you ultimately will speed it up.