One thing is known - there are plenty of opportunities to do business. There are still people who need what you (and your competitors) have to sell. The only question is, "Who is going to get to them first?" Will it be you...or your competitor? Don't limit your thinking - and your planning - to doing what you have always done. Instead, develop BIG goals and a big plan. The only one who can stop your from getting a bigger piece of the pie is YOU. Even if you aim high and miss the mark, you're still better off than if you aim low and hit it.
Plan Your Attack
Whom will you pursue? What are the characteristics of your ideal prospects? Do they look like your existing clients? Or, is your ideal target changing with your growing business. Review the characteristics of your best clients and make that your new “normal” client you pursue. Once you develop the “what” in terms of what type of client you should be pursuing, then determine the “how” you can get in front of them.
And what about your existing clients? What is your strategy to grow those clients, retain them longer, and keep them more than satisfied? We call it your 90 day Strategic Account Plan. If you don’t have one, develop one (or ask me for help).
Develop a Compelling Message
When you implement your big plan, you'll be interacting with people who may not be familiar with your company. To get their attention, stimulate their interest, and avoid falling prey to the "just send me some information" trap, you'll need a compelling message that will quickly convey the relevance of your product or service. The message should focus on the challenges the prospects are likely facing - challenges for which your product or service provides a solution, and around which you can craft a 30-second commercial. How you deliver the message is critical, though, so you do not sound like a “typical salesperson”.
Increase Your Visibility
Prospects can't do business with you if they don't know who you are or where to find you. You need to "get in front of them" - in person, via phone, email or social media - and then follow up on a regular basis. They may not need your product or service right now, but when they do, it's the "top-of-mind awareness" you create that will increase the likelihood that the order goes to you rather than one of your competitors. The same strategy holds true for existing customers as well. Keep in touch on a regular basis - not to solicit an order, but to offer assistance or advice...or just to say "Hello." Being available for your customers when business is thriving is expected. Being available when business isn't thriving (theirs or yours) is the mark of a professional.
Refine Your Skills
Getting a bigger piece of the pie requires that you identify, qualify, and develop opportunities in the shortest time possible. Chasing prospects in an attempt to get them to make - and then keep - commitments, handling their stalls and objections, and continuing to "follow up" with them is not only wasted time but frustrating and does nothing to make you stand out.
Be more discerning about the people with whom you invest your time. Focus on people that have expressed issues or challenges with who they are currently working with, then share stories about how you have helped others in similar situations, but not “pitching” the features and benefits of how you can help them. Formalize your selling approach into a step-by-step process that becomes more repeatable and gets to the truth sooner. Putting together a detailed proposal, for instance, for someone who doesn't have a budget in place to make the purchase may be an intellectually stimulating exercise, but it won't help you achieve your big goal.
Let the competition focus on the external factors like the economy and taxes to determine whether their business can be successful, while you focus on your BIG goal and control your own destiny. Use the above five recommendations to chart a successful course.