EP Huddle #43
We hear it all the time. Inside sales doesn't work in a relationship business. "We're a handshake and a hug kind of selling organization".
Some companies don't emphasize prospecting for new business, because their client base is built on relationships. In most cases, however, this is incorrect. Even relationship driven sales need prospecting, and there's no better way to prospect than to utilize an inside sales department to help drive qualified opportunities and set the stage for a solid relationship with a customer.
Think about it this way. Relationship sales are valuable, and many profitable businesses have been created on solid relationships. But those relationships had to have started somewhere. Was contact first made at a tradeshow? Was a networking event responsible for the introduction? Did the customer (now friend) first hear of your company on a radio commercial or via your website via Google? Regardless of where the relationship is now, it started somewhere as a cold or lukewarm introduction.
Prospecting has a place for helping to build relationships. Prospecting calls and emails can lead to a conversation. During the conversation, a relationship begins to form.
Prospecting also has a place for helping to weed out potential customers who aren't a good fit. Some of the most important data an email marketing campaign can provide is the list of people who've unsubscribed from your campaigns. They don't want to build a relationship, and that's fine. You'll get the same information from people who tell you on the phone they aren't interested. The data the salesperson permission not to spend time trying to build a relationship with that prospect, and can instead focus on prospects who might be open to new ideas and forming new relationships.
As a team:
Write down a list of 10 or 20 of your most profitable customers. Where did they come from? You will likely have a mixture of sources such as referrals, tradeshows, cold calls, etc. Figure out what that mix is. I bet you have a good number of clients who did not come from direct "hug and handshake" sources at first. They became that over time.
Write down a second list too. Write down the top 10-20 relationships in your book of business. Complete the same exercise and figure out how those relationships started. There was a time before you were invited to his daughter's wedding that you didn't really know him. How did it all start? I bet you'll see many of them came from the activity of simply prospecting to find new business.
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