130: Finding New Clients

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Marketing plays a key role in generating leads. They are trying to maximise the accuracy of the segmentation of the data base, to make offers that resonate specifically with different segments. They are producing content marketing pieces that will spark leads through the SEO route. Buying ad words to get pay per click activation from buyers, who are searching for your specific good or service is another channel. Potential buyers raise their hand when they download a white paper or an eBook from the website or leave an inquiry. However this is never enough from a sales point of view.

Salespeople want to fill the top of their funnel of leads. They know they have certain ratios which will unveil the KAIs or Key Activity Indicators. If we try to email or phone a certain number of prospects, then we will get a certain amount of replies or contacts. By tracking how many we make contact with we can get a ratio of our activity relative to our success. The next stage is converting those contacts into face to face or online meetings. In Japan, for the vast majority of B2B sales, face to face has been required, especially if you are a potential new supplier. Online meetings with new clients just pushes the degree of difficulty right up. Regardless, there will be a ratio of success here counting appointments achieved against attempts to get a meeting. Then obviously we can count how many of those meetings led to a deal being done. That is another key ration.

We can calculate the value of all the deals we did against the number of deals and work out our average sale value. If our average deal size is 1 million yen and our annual sales target is 30 million yen then we can work backwards and nominate how many original client contacts we need to be making to generate our target number. The problem is very few sales people have any clue what their KAI is and they just ramble around thoroughout the year.

When we know our KAI we know we need to put aside what marketing is doing because we can’t control that process. We can control though, how many networking events we go to, how many cold calls we make, how many reactivation calls to orphan clients we need to make. We have a clear idea of what an ideal client looks like.

We have clients in an industry who have rivals in the same business. The chances are high that the problems and issues facing one five star hotel in Tokyo will probably be shared by other similar hotels. Our insights derived from dealing with one can provide us with a battering ram to break into the other hotels.

Commonly, cold calls fall on stony ground in Japan unless you know the exact name of the person you need to talk to. The lowest placed young woman on the totem pole is always designated to pick up the phone. Despite her tender years she has become a hardened, ego demolishing, expert at keeping her bosses protected against pesky salespeople. “Who are you”, “Why are you calling, “We will call you back”, then crickets is usually how it goes.

Most salespeople just ask to speak with the sales manager, false promises are made to get rid of them and deafening silence on the return call front is all they ever experience. The Sales Manager never contacts you and you are never ever confident that young Ms. Call Killer even passed your message on to the boss in the first place.

Now, based on our insights gained from working with similar companies in the same industry, we can try a different angle. “Hello, this is Greg Story from Dale Carnegie Training Japan, we are global soft skills training experts. We have been working with your direct competitors here in Japan. What you will find interesting is how we have been having great success helping their sales teams to win new business for their Hotels. These rival sales managers have loved seeing their teams going after new business, succeeding and so substantially expanding their sales. Maybe we could do the same for you. I am not sure. Please allow me to discuss this possibility with your sales manager, to see if we can help your firm achieve similar success. Would you please transfer me to the sales manager?”.

Invariably the Sales Manager “isn’t there”, even if they actually are there. At this point Ms. Call Killer often goes stone motherless silent. She will not offer to take a message, as she is hoping you will crack and say “I will call back later”. That makes her feel good about getting rid of you, because experience has taught her that most salespeople don’t try again and she won’t get a call back. She will not tell you the name of the sales manager if you ask. If you don’t give up so easily and you ask to leave a message, she will take down your name and number - maybe. You have to rely on her tender mercies for your message to be passed across. Here is a key tactic. You should keep calling back every few hours, until you get to talk to the sales manager. You have to be that persistent to break through the wall.

Making these cold calls needs discipline, guts, a thick hide and time. Every single day you need to make a key appointment. That is the one with yourself, to hive off time to get on the phone and hammer against these protective walls. Think about it. You will always defend the time to meet with a client and you have to apply the same rigour to the time you need to make these calls. Get it into your schedule and BLOCK that time out.

This is one way we can take control of our own destiny and make our own leads. It is tough, but persistence and conviction that what you have is what they need and the time to make the calls, are the prerequisites. Block out the time and get on the phone. Take command of your priorities.

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