Is It Sales, Is It Marketing, Is It Working?
My old boss would always ask, “What is the difference between sales and marketing?” I always looked at marketing as creating opportunities and sales as turning those opportunities into orders.
A lot of small businesses that I have encountered are kind of stuck in the middle. They list their business in local directories or create a webpage and wait for customers to find them or they rely on word of mouth and relationships they have with general contractors in their area. When customers do call, they prepare a quote or proposal, send it off and wait for a response. The most common response our salespeople got when they were following up on their quotes as a supplier is, “I am glad you asked. I should call them and see what’s up.”
In the current environment, business is changing and it is important that you communicate to your customers how you are changing to support them with marketing. Most copy or office supply companies today can help you make up a flyer that you can hand out to customers. A simple flyer with a picture of your staff in front of your shop or glass truck can make an impact. You want to make sure that you list your company information and the services you offer. Make sure your current customers have a few flyers so they can hand them to others they come in contact with. In my shower door seminars, I explain how easy it is to hire a sales force without a cost. Make up some flyers and drop them off at kitchen and bath shops or plumbing supply companies and ask them to hand them out to customers that are installing baths. You can also make a deal with them to sell for you and you will do the installations.
You want to make sure that you follow up on opportunities to see where they stand. The time to start this is when they request a quote or proposal. As the old expression goes “When you gives you gets.” Quotes cost you time and money to create, so you want to ask a few questions before you prepare and send them out. This is when your customer is willing to talk because they need something from you:
- Do you have the job or are you just quoting?
- When do you expect this project to proceed?
Then let them know that you will call back at that time to answer any questions that may come up. Make up some follow up files by months to remind you to call if you don’t have a formal CRM system.
When you follow up, let them know you are there to help. Do they have any questions? Would they like alternative products quoted that could be more competitive? Don’t worry if price is the issue, they will bring it up to you.