Whom should I sell to first?

Open access no. 14/2021
  • How can you choose the most promising clients?
  • Where to look for new customers?
  • Why should you prioritise your regular clients?
Whom should I sell to first?

Some salespeople claim that they could ‘sell to anyone.’ That’s not a good sign for their effectiveness or the way they work. There are clients we should sell to first. But which ones?

Instead of calling ‘everyone in your Rolodex’, as they say, we should classify and prioritise clients. If we develop a good sales strategy, it will lead to a situation in which our existing clients are satisfied with the service and we pick up many new clients - all in a relatively short time. “Time is money” - that’s the key here.

Been a client, will be a client

According to Market Metrics, if we try to sell something to an existing customer, we have a 60-70% chance of success. If, on the other hand, we try to sell something to a completely new person from our potential client base, our chances drop to 5-20%. If you still aren’t convinced, we’ll add that an existing client is as much as 50% more likely to try a new product or service than a new client and will spend an average of 31% more. What’s more, research also shows that 70% of companies indicate that retaining an existing client is much less expensive than acquiring a new one.

We may easily conclude that when it comes to sales, we should start with existing customers and then move on to new ones. Existing customers should have the highest priority. They deserve attention not only because we have a better chance of selling something, but also because their loyalty to the brand and the product.

To sum up, if you’re trying to figure out whom to call first or whom to help first, it’s always worth giving priority to existing clients. Also, when we introduce a new product or service to the market, it’s best to give a demo presentation to a client who already knows your company and uses its solutions. Regardless of the scenario, your chances for a sale will always be higher.

And what if you’re already in touch with all our clients and you already regularly send them personalised sales proposals? In that case, potential clients are next on the list, but start with the most promising ones. That primarily means leads that have already had some sort of interaction with your company. For example, someone who downloaded two e-books from our site or participated in a webinar is a more promising potential customer than someone who has downloaded only one e-book and has not participated in a webinar. You can find this sort of information in your CRM system - which contacts have interacted with the company, in what way, when, and how many times. If we use this knowledge wisely, we will make sales easier.

Classification and prioritisation

Any experienced salesperson will agree that not all potential clients and not all leads are the same - whether they come from the same place or not. Depending on the industry, the contact, the problem you solve, or the problem the client has, making a sale may turn out to be very easy or very unrealistic. There are times when we just can’t predict whether a particular sales opportunity is large or small; nevertheless, these days it’s worth qualifying potential customers. Many companies have access to thousands of leads. Sales specialists have a limited amount of time, so they should spend it where they have the best chance of making a sale.

Whom should you call first? In addition to the tips already mentioned, let’s consider these three aspects:

1] Potential client’s position/title

Check what position the given person has in the company to find out whether they’re a decision marker or whether they will redirect you to someone else, even if they’re interested in buying. Are they a director, a board member, a middle manager, or perhaps the CEO? Were they hired recently? Are they in a relatively low-level position?

2] Industry

Then, check which industry the potential client works in. For example, let’s say you sell an online document scanning service. So far, you’ve already made 1,000 sales, most of which were to clients in the IT industry. If your company has a large contact base organised by industry, try to get a list of leads in the IT industry. This will significantly increase your chances of success - after all, you already have extensive experience in this particular industry and can answer many of the questions your potential clients may have. It’s also worth contacting people in industries you know well, if possible. A salesperson who has only worked in the beauty sector may have difficulty selling the same service to a client from the IT or automotive sector.

3] Identifying needs

Potential clients’ needs may vary, depending on the individual. Nevertheless, it’s worth doing at least some work to gather information. You’ll definitely increase your chances of making a sale when you offer your product or service to a client who has a problem you can solve. Watch out for signs such as: company development, expanding to a new location, switching to remote operations, recent acquisition of another company, interest in introducing IT security solutions, etc. Do a search to see what you can learn about the company or the client. Nowadays, we can find information that might be helpful in the sales process quite quickly and easily. You should also read industry media - you’ll find out a lot of useful news and trends.

When you analyse your database in terms of the above criteria, you’ll create a list of contacts that should ensure easier sales. This will improve the effectiveness of your operations and help you develop specific goals more quickly. Instead of focusing on selling to ‘potential clients,’ you’ll be working with a list of ‘promising prospects.’ In addition, when creating the database, it’s worth preparing relevant case studies and statistics to serve as additional arguments that you have the right solutions for the given company or industry. This will also make it easier to make contact and then make sales.

Assessing clients’ purchasing power

Some sales specialists try to make their lives easier at any cost. That many mean, for example, only contacting small businesses, because they know they can reach the decision-maker quite easily and that they can sell them the cheapest versions of their products or services without much trouble. So, they make a phone call to the business owner, offer the cheapest available service, and consider it a success. Meanwhile, if they put in more effort, they could contact a medium or large company - they would just have to get in touch with whoever actually makes the purchasing decision there. This usually involves some extra work, such as a few phone calls or skilful use of LinkedIn to find the right contact. Additionally, for these sales, you have to prepare an individualised offer or presentation. However, once the deal is done, these transactions are usually worth much more, because you sell either more products or better, more expensive versions of them.

It’s tempting to sell as quickly and easily as possible, but you won’t be the best salesperson if you only sell the budget versions of your products or services and build a client base consisting mainly of one-time buyers.

You should always assess the purchasing options of a given company or client in terms of how much money they have to spend, whether they’ll be able to afford a full-fledged solution from your offer, and what are their chances of becoming a regular, returning client.

Finally, don’t forget about the clients who made a purchase and haven’t come back for a long time. They are also worth calling. Of course, they may say no, or you may not be able to get in touch with them at all, but there’s always a chance you can pick up a few orders this way. That’s especially true when you use cross-selling or offer unique promotions or try to sell to another department of the company or another location.

If you follow all of these recommendations, you will sell easier and achieve your goals faster.

Why should you prioritise your regular clients

  1. Better conversion rates. Existing customers have already purchased something from you, so if they haven’t had a disappointing experience, they will most likely buy again. You have already developed trust (more or less), and you know what they care about and what their needs are. You therefore have a much better chance of making a sale then you do with new clients.
  2. Less marketing and spending. You don’t have to spend money on finding and acquiring new contacts (leads). Most often, all you have to do is call or e-mail the given person - their contact details are already in your database. Building a long-term relationship with a new client costs an average of 16 times more than maintaining an existing client. So take care of people and companies that have already made a purchase.
  3. Higher profits. When selling to existing customers, you can focus on more expensive offers - you don’t have to tempt the client with the lowest price to get them interested. It’s easier to convince the client to buy and it’s easier to cross-sell and up-sell. According to Gartner, 80% of companies’ revenues will come from just 20% of their current clients.
  4. Lower costs. Giving high priority to existing clients can save you a lot of money. Experts from the consulting company Bain and Company report that acquiring a new client usually costs 5-25 times more than maintaining a existing one. That means that increasing your retention rate by 5% could increase your company’s profitability by as much as 75%.

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