Relationship Building > Sales Process

Relationship Building > Sales Process

Relationship Building > Sales Process

Many people hate the word “sales” with a passion. It brings to mind images and feelings of sleaze, dishonesty–like you’re trying to trick prospective clients. People hate it for good reason.

Some time back, I (Matt) was meeting with my business coach and saying that same thing, “I hate sales!” His suggestion? Stop using the “S Word” completely; just refer to them as relationships.

If you’re doing business the way we are–focusing on your strengths and how you can be of value to others–that’s an easy fix, and it should come pretty naturally, because that’s exactly what you’re building; relationships. We can do relationships a lot better than we can do “sales” usually. It can change how you feel about sales, which in turn can change how you approach them, and it might gain you more business. If you’re hesitant about something, even if it’s just because of simple semantics, modifying it can sometimes be a game-changer.

When I first started Day Creative, my first thought was the same one that most small business owners have; “How do I get paid?” However, I was so focused on how to get clients and how to make money that I was hurting myself without realizing it. I was looking at my business more transactionally than relationally. Need a logo? No problem, BOOM! (Invoice, wait for check, cash it, thanks, next!) 

I went from project to project, thinking “MoneyMoneyMoney”…but I didn’t build relationships. About a year and a half in I realized there was a hole in my business. Many business owners will tell you that repeat business is how you grow, and I was lacking in repeat business;  I needed to transition from just getting a sale to being the “go to” company for repeat business. I needed to develop a relationship. Become a trusted advisor. And you do that by going beyond concern about the one job to answering an ongoing need. I learned that by doing a great job and building rapport, I could pick up future work with them–I’d built a relationship. If I’ve done my homework, found someone whose struggles I can understand and address, then answering the need and having a relational mindset positions you as a potential trusted advisor. People return again and again to a trusted advisor.

Most successful businesses develop processes for the important things, so that’s what I did with this. A process is ideally a set of instructions for a practice you need to repeat, that the dumbest person in the world  could follow. I made a relationship process, which sounds counterintuitive and possibly sales-y, but think of it this way; all of your important relationships, business and personal, fall back on certain procedures, whether you know it or not, or whether you’ve codified them or not. This is simply taking a natural process and making it followable, repeatedly. 

I decided I was either going to be onsite or visit them once a year or twice a year, maybe monthly depending on the client. I didn’t want contact to have the effect of, “Oh, great, here’s Matt bugging us again.”; it needed to be positive, engaging and friendly, not always a sales call, or asking for payment. I didn’t want it to be unpleasant when they picked up the phone or read an email from me. One of the ways I did that (I stole this from a client), was to, twice a year, do a customer appreciation event. Nothing big, easy in and out, and a way to say “Thanks”. This ensures that the ONLY reason they get a call or email from me isn’t asking for money…sometimes, it just might be a thank-you gift for them. Positive association. Who doesn’t like free stuff?

One easy method I have for this, that has low overhead (not a hosted, expensive event that people have to attend at a certain time) is to contact a local establishment and ask if I can open a tab for a customer appreciation event. I make a flier for a free drink, cupcake, etc., send them to my clients, the local establishment gets some business (and more positive association with Day Creative), my clients get a treat, and everyone wins. I just pay the tab at the end of the week or whatever. It’s a way to say, “Hey, we appreciate you”.

I have reminders set to do that, to automate it, and no matter how busy I am, I make time to do it. 

Another thing I try to do is get to know the client. What are they interested in outside of work? One of our clients is really into triathlons (weirdo), and so if I see an article or meme, I send it to him. It’s a positive touchpoint that isn’t sales-y. Might seem like a small thing, but again, it’s a positive association. I don’t do it often–you don’t want to bug people–but just an occasional contact.

The overarching goal in business is business, and I’m not trying to conflate that with friendships, It may seem like a small distinction, but I do believe that even though I’m making sales-focused contact, ultimately, I’m not focused on the hustle. I’m focused on providing value and positioning myself as a trusted advisor, and it’s proven to be a great business strategy.

Creative Sales Ideas to Grow Your Business

Creative Sales Ideas to Grow Your Business

Creative Sales Ideas to Grow Your Business

Our focus is typically towards online marketing strategy, but there are other facets that can’t be ignored when looking at how to grow your business. How do you think strategically about your sales? First, you want to define who you’re targeting. Who is your target customer? Where are they? Try to empathize; put yourself in their world. Don’t stop at thinking in terms of, “A business owner with ___ sized company”, with a certain cap, this many employees, this industry, this region…those things are helpful and they’re a good place to start, but the next level of strategizing for sales is truly entering their world.

 

Empathize.

Think about their day to day experience. If it’s a large company, they’ll have several roles; they’ll be busy. They’ll be looking for a certain type of customer or company to partner with, and you want to flesh that out to understand if it’s a good fit for both of you. At Day Creative, we’re looking for owners of companies who are still doing everything from HR management to day to day operations. They’ve reached a growth point where it feels overwhelming to do their own advertising and they’re ready to branch out and partner with a company that can fit into the plan. They want more leads, they want more sales, they want to get better at closing on leads, and they’re open to partnering and outsourcing some of this, but they’re wondering how to find the right people. We’re perfectly poised to take the marketing burden off of them and be a good partner because we’ve done the groundwork and evaluated their needs, and grown our model to provide solutions. If they grow, we grow–we get in the door by providing value and stay involved by continuing to do so. 

 

Educate.

You can learn the pain points of your target customer, but you also have to know how to speak their language. Find out where they are, who they are..and what will sound awesome to them. What’s in it for them, if they work with you? Not “Here’s how awesome we are and all the awesome things we offer”, but “Here’s how working with our awesomeness makes your life easier, better, etc.” There’s a two-way education taking place; you learn about their process in enough depth to provide deep solutions, and you educate them about you.

 

Explore.

Once you have an idea of who you’re targeting and what’s going to move the needle with them, you ask, “Where are they?” and what’s the best use of your time? It may not be worth it for you to drive around town and find people one business at a time to cold call…the thought is, “Are there strategic places where you can get in front of a whole bunch of new prospects, potential partners, all at once?”

There are professional associations–like home builders associations, financial planner associations, etc.–show up to events. Provide lunch, give a talk, set up at one of their trade shows…find the ways you get in front of them. Sometimes associations have committees; you may be able to contribute to the success of these associations which would tell a prospective customer that you understand their industry. (You need to actually understand the industry in order to do this, obviously. See “Educate”, above.) Having conversations about their world, their concerns, is key in demonstrating value. 

At Day Creative we prefer to frame ourselves as “trusted advisors”. When you work business to business, as we do, you look at the relationships any business owner has, and trusts as potential sources. His banker, his insurance agent, his attorney, his HR company…could you build relationships with those ancillary connections to find clients that have problems you can solve? Build trusted relationships across a spectrum of “Gatekeepers”. Business coaches, incubators, lenders…how do you get in with them? Anything that serves the function of qualifying leads for you will work. Whatever keeps you from relying on going door to door–those sort of interactions have their place, but you need to focus energy and attention on what gets you qualified leads that can benefit from your service. By the time it gets to you there’s someone who is actively looking for what your business does.

 

Extend.

An unexpected source of sales for us has been…other companies in our industry. It’s worked well for us, as a media/marketing company, to extend offers to other companies, either to support their efforts when they need extra help or take on contract work if there’s overload. If your industry is similar, consider abandoning the cutthroat mentality and look to other businesses and say, “Hey, if you need someone to step in, either behind the scenes or as an option when you can’t help someone, keep us in mind.” Doesn’t work in every industry, but it’s likely that there’s more openness to that model than you realize. You can also find companies in your industry that may be lacking where you’re strong; maybe they provide service or maintenance, and you provide sales, or actual strategy. Do they install a product you service? Maybe you specialize in someone that’s of less priority to a competitor and you can help each other out by partnering and increasing each other’s sales.

However you do it, developing strategy for your sales is key to continued success.