Having been in Sales world for a long time now, I obviously understand that to do your job you need to get sales. That is the job…how you do it is another matter entirely and not the focus of this short little article.

One of the biggest challenges for many sales people is having a great month then having to start all over again from zero! The real smart sales people are those that look at building clients not sales. Why? Well because when you build clients they come back for more whereas sales is a once off. If you have a strong client base then a couple of things happen.

1. They come back and buy from you again which takes the pressure off.

2. They recommend you to other people because they like and trust you.

Also, if you really understand your clients then you will be able to judge their buying patterns and be able to factor them into your pipeline better so as to see where the real gaps are. Just going out and looking for a sale solves a short term problem but not a longer term one. The whole area of recommendations from clients is an interesting one as 91% of customers would be happy to give recommendations yet only 11% of sales people ask for them.

So I suppose the real question is, how do you build clients not sales?

For me it’s about a couple of things….

1. Trust – really getting your client to trust and believe in you that what you are offering is the right thing for them. Sometimes this involves saying no to them or not just selling the add ones. I had a potential client who travelled from Belfast to Dublin to meet me about doing one of our shows. From our conversation it became clear to me that the show was not a fit for him and it wouldn’t work. He was adamant about doing it but we went back and forth and eventually I told him that it simply is not going to work as it’s not the right show for his business. Was I tempted to take the “business on a plate?” Absolutely but I didn’t because it would not have worked for him and he would have told his friends and colleagues. Did I get a sale…no. Did I get a client?…Yes. He rang me a few days later to thank me for being so honest and also with a recommendation of another company who did become a client. In fact I ended up getting 2-3 more clients as a direct result. I like that honesty in other people and it’s what builds relationships, clients and yes of course sales.

2. Interest – People love to talk about themselves and their business and when you let them, you show real interest in them and this builds their belief in what you have to offer. Think about it, are you more likely to buy from someone who has shown real interest in what you do? Are you also more likely to remember someone who has listened to you and made you feel good? The old cliche “people buy from people” really holds true and this approach sets you aside from the sales people who just want to sign the order. Showing interest by asking questions let’s your potential client talk about him and also gives you the information to give him a solution to his issues.

3. Solutions – if you can help a client solve a problem then you won’t have to sell because he will want to buy. Focussing on solving his problem also shows him that your in it for him and not just yourself. Ask yourself honestly, when you go into a sales call, are you really trying to solve his problem or yours? In order to do this we need to develop a problem solving mentality because if you do then you become a business adviser and not just a sales person. It’s pretty simple, if you solve his problem, he solves yours.

4. Follow Up – One of the biggest reasons clients(sales!) don’t come back is that the sales person doesn’t follow up or follow through and it’s actually the biggest complaint buyers have about sales people. I always recommend the sales people to under promise and over deliver where possible. So if you say you will Follow Up in 48 hours, do it in 24. Impress the client by doing it better than the next guy. One related issue on this, if you don’t know the answer to something, say so and don’t BS the client. Honesty plays a key role in developing clients. You don’t come across as thick saying you don’t know something, you come across as professional if you say you don’t know but will find out. Whatever promises you made to the client..Follow Through!

Hope this short little article was helpful and please do get in touch if we can help you with strategy…it’s what we do.

Have a great day,

The Exhibition Guy +353 86 7750420