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How to Grow Sales By Not Selling!

Increase sales without selling
I started my career, "carrying a bag," as a marketing representative for IBM. I had some decent success. But in my most successful year, I didn't make one sale until May of that year, yet won a half dozen district and regional awards and was recognized as one of the top sales people in the entire division of more than 20,000 sales people.

I had spent the first four and half months of the year researching each and every customer in my territory as well as some key prospects. In those days, that meant countless hours in the library with reference books and microfiche of all magazine and newspaper articles. The lessons I learned that year proved so invaluable that I built multiple successful businesses' sales growth on it.

One of the biggest if not the biggest sales lessons I learned:

The more you know about your prospects and customers, the more successful ANY sales efforts will be. The corollary to this is the more you listen, the more you learn about customer problems and needs; the easier it is to match your products and services with those problems or needs. And that's how sales come about.

Not by great sales techniques, killer presentations or website pyrotechnics that dazzle. Just good old fashioned hard work...but unobtrusively! And that's the key.

Whether you're a B2B business, pitching a high ticket item, or you're offering $99 subscriptions to consumers, the concept's the same. The more you know about your market and customer the more sales growth you will achieve.

Here's how to succeed by not selling:

Never make a cold call.

I define a cold call as one where all you have is a name and phone number or email address. You know, where you buy a mailing list or leads from some service, with nothing more than geography or industry sector as the defining factor. Total waste of time. If you're going to buy a list or leads, the tighter you can make the definition, the better.

Make sure your purchased list includes the prospect's:
  • Title
  • Specific size of company
  • Specific products or services offered
You might have to spend a little more money to get a better qualified list, but it's worth it. The more you know about who they are, the more tailored you can make your first encounter, be it a phone call or email.

Let a prospect know that you "thought about it ahead of time."

When you have a lead, either one you mined from your own efforts or one that found you via your website or social media, before you ever follow-up, find out everything you can about that lead.

Start with their website. Understand their products and services, read their press releases, see what social media they're involved in. How about the individual contact? Where do they fit in the organization? Check them out on LinkedIn or Google+ to learn more about their background. Use every scrap of information to build a foundation for your follow-up, whether a call or an email. And be sure to tailor it to the specific lead's situation.

Don't do what some bright young person had done, contacting me after doing a LinkedIn search, only to try to sell me web development services and brand advice, without ever having looked at my website.

He didn't take that extra step. So when he contacted me, his email came across like a form letter making zero impression. Could have been so much different.

Ask questions, listen carefully to the answers.

Once you finally make contact, use the data you've gathered to help you formulate a bunch of questions that will gain you even more. A key objective would be to determine what specific problem do they need solved or what specific need addressed. Gauge their level of interest and their buying cycles.

Find out who "controls the checkbook" in their company - i.e., who makes the financial decisions. Is your contact the decision-maker? If not, who is and how can you get to that person through your contact?

Solve THEIR specific problem, address THEIR specific need.

Any demonstration, proposal or quotation should be built around the prospect's specific situation, tailored with their information, focused on their specific problem or need. Features and functions of your product or service should be described in terms of the benefits that the prospect will derive in solving their problem, addressing their need. No dazzle necessary.

Pricing should be described in terms of the return they will get on solving the problem, addressing the need. Even if your product is a commodity, present it as a solution.

Sales growth is not about selling more. It's about knowing more and then using what you learn to motivate your buyer to buy. The more you know about your market and customer the more sales growth you will achieve.

"The Entrepreneur's Yoda" knows these things. He's been there. May success be with you!

Have you experienced sales success by not selling?  Please share your experience in your comments.It can help another entrepreneur.

If you like this post, by all means, share it with your networks and colleagues.

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