No business can rely only on existing customers if they want to grow and thrive. Even with upselling and cross selling, there’s a limit to how much “new” business you can eke out of an existing account. You’ll also lose some customers to competitors – no matter how good you are, that does happen from time to time.
A steady stream of new customers is vital for the long term survival of your business, and for the long term survival of your job, too. Bringing profitable new accounts on board shows your worth to your company.
Selling To New Accounts Is A Challenge
New accounts are necessary for growth and profits, but there’s one problem: Penetrating a new account is much more difficult than upselling or cross selling. Here’s why:
- Customers most likely have an established relationship with a vendor they trust.
- They don’t know your company. That doesn’t just mean that your product is new – they don’t know what your overall support is like or what your company is like to have a relationship with. It’s hard for customers to trust that a new provider will satisfy all their needs.
- Customers don’t like change. The phrase “better the devil you know” really applies here – customers would rather stay with a vendor that they have a few problems with, than risk the unknown.
- You have to figure out who is the decision maker, who’s in charge of the budget, who are the key people in your potential new account and how they all relate to each other. Laying this groundwork before you make a sale takes time.
Need New Sales? Be A Hunter
Some companies hire sales people who have a dual role – they manage accounts and manage new sales too. Others separate the roles into account managers and new sales managers, who are often called hunters. These people are responsible for penetrating new regions and companies and bringing business from new accounts.
Whether your role is focused solely on bringing in new sales, or you have a dual role, there’s still a lot of responsibility on you to make new acquisitions a success. So, how can you do just that? Try these 7 must-follow tips.
1. Do Your Research
Take the time to do research now and you’ll increase your chances of success. Dig deep with research and social prospecting to find businesses who are an ideal match for your products. The more you understand your customers, the easier it is to sell to them.
Targeting the right companies in the first place is a key part of your success as a sales person. Persuading a company to switch from their existing vendor to you is hard enough – don’t make it harder for yourself by approaching businesses who aren’t a good match for what you’re selling.
2. Send The Right Message
Raising brand awareness at an early stage will help you penetrate a new account. The information you give is key, so make it count.
Once you have permission to forward information to your new contact, think carefully about the information you choose. Every email you send or piece of content you direct them to should be carefully chosen to establish why your product is the ideal choice for them.
3. Talk To The Right People
Find out who you need to talk to in the new company. The chances are, you won’t be talking to just one person. Get to know different members of the team.
Never rely on one person to pass on information. After one cold call, it’s highly unlikely that the person you spoke to will share information on your behalf. Talk to a few different people (just make sure they are a key part of the team you’re selling to).
4. Build Relationships
New sales only happen after you’ve built a strong relationship with your prospective client. You can’t expect to give them a sales pitch and have them buy from you the same day, especially if your product represents a significant investment.
Take the time to get to know the team you’re selling to. Instead of talking about your company and products, talk about your new customers. Find out what frustrations they’re facing. Listen to the words they choose, and their concerns. That way, you can position yourself as the right person to solve their problems.
5. Tell, Don’t Sell
Education is key when it comes to making the sale. Instead of talking about your product and what it does, talk about what, specifically, it will do for your customer. Make it easy for them to visualize how much better their business will be when they’re using it.
Provide information that backs up your points. For example, white papers, blog posts or case studies that support your dialog with your prospective customer. If you can provide testimonials or put them in touch with other satisfied customers, do that.
6. Use Existing Connections
Your existing sales network is a rich source of potential new customers. Getting referrals from your existing customers helps break through that initial trust barrier. A referral is a personal recommendation, and people are much more likely to trust personal recommendations than unknown sales people.
Make it easy for your existing customers to refer you. Give them ready made information or fill in the blank templates to use. Don’t forget to encourage them by offering an incentive to refer you.
7. Be Patient
It’s easy to rush into trying to get the sale for a new account. After all, you want to close the deal and bring extra revenue to your company.
However, don’t rush. Penetrating new accounts takes time. If you take the time now to do thorough research and focus on building a relationship with your new customer, you’ll have a much stronger foundation. Ultimately this is more likely to get you the sales you need.
New account penetration is a challenge, but it’s by no means impossible. Do research at every stage and carefully target your messages to educate your new prospects, and your chances of success will increase.
It’s easy to focus on the numbers – selling is a numbers game, after all. Your company needs a steady inflow of well paying sales. However, sales is most often not a short term process. Depending on the industry and the product, sales is a long term journey. Keep your goal in mind, but remember that rushing into it could lose you the sale. Patience is key to your long term success.