Your focus right now may be on the upcoming holidays; however, now is a great time to do some sales planning for next year. You will have a much better start next year if you start your planning now.
Get more referrals.
You probably know that it’s much easier to sell when someone who already buys from you recommends you to another prospect. Your existing customers typically have nothing to gain by the referral so they have credibility and built-in trust with prospects. Your job now should be to plan to get more referrals to make it easier to sell next year.
Some people think the best way to get referrals is to directly ask existing customers for referrals. They ask, “Who do you know who could become a customer of mine?” That’s too direct. However, I do think you should build into your sales process a step where you follow up with all your new (and existing) customers to find out what they think about your products and services, and whether in fact they are delighted. Just be sure you’re asking for referrals in the best way so you get one.
The probability of your customers knowing the exact type of customer you’re looking for is usually not as high as you would like. Your job is to make the request and widen the circle of people you could speak with. You should ask, “Who do you know who would know [the specific type of prospect you want to meet]? That way they can recommend a referral if they do know that type of prospect, and also think about the people they know who would also know those types of prospects.
Be sure you are clear and specific about whom you want to meet. Think about job title, years in business, size of company, psychographics like risk-taker or not, and situations they might be experiencing. It’s much easier for someone to recommend someone with a specific description than it is to figure out what you mean when you say, “Who do you know who works at a growing company?” or “Who do you know who could also buy my products?”
Be strategic about trade shows and conferences.
Your sales strategy for next year might include going to a trade show or industry conference. Just as you plan for your sales calls in advance, you should also plan for your trade shows in advance. Trade shows typically have attendees who are more likely to buy; they are taking the time to attend the trade show, so they already have an interest in the products being shown.
You, as a salesperson, even if you’re not showing at a booth, should consider who is going to attend the event. Some event organisers will distribute lists of attendees before the event. You should know which prospects you want to target before the trade show, then try to determine if those prospects will be there. Trade shows provide the perfect venue for setting up meetings to discuss business. However, if you wait until you get to the trade show to set up your meetings, you might find your prospects’ schedules already filled.
Make it easier for customers to buy.
There are many products which are complex and technical. Buyers who are engineers may want to know how a product works and what it will do for them; other buyers may lack the technical interest nor do they need to know how the product works for them to buy. Salespeople lose customers when they start explaining figuratively how a watch works, instead of showing how a watch can tell the time to a buyer who isn’t interested in the inner workings of a watch.
Be sure you know which type of buyer you are talking to and prepare ahead of time simple explanations of what the technical aspects of your products do for non-technical buyers. You’ve got to be able to translate for these people, because unless you do, you will make it very difficult for them to say yes and buy.
This time of year is a quiet time for many salespeople. Unless you are working on a big sale that’s about to close soon, take the time now to plan for next year. (And after your deal closes, you too, should think about your selling for next year.) Next year will be here sooner than you think.