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The first principle of sales

'Nobody can buy your product or service if they don't know you exist'

That's pretty obvious isn't it? There is a bit more depth to the corollary; 'The more people who know of your company the more business you will get'

The principle is easy to see with websites. Suppose you have an attractive offer, the product is in demand and the price is right, but no traffic. You won't sell a thing.

But, to go to the opposite extreme, if you can make most of the population aware of who you are, what you do and how to contact you, you'll get a massive amount of business.

Pizza Hut advertises, before and during The Simpsons - peak time TV, with an audience of millions. That is exploiting this principle to the maximum.

Now let's consider how this relates to the typical entrepreneur, inventor or small business owner. If that's you, how many of your potential customers know that you are ready, willing and able to help them?

I've put this question to hundreds of delegates at my 'Selling for Engineers' seminar. It can take a fair bit of consciousness-raising before the true scale of the opportunities becomes apparent.

For a bit of fun, I introduce the concept across like this:

'Here's a number, 7,000,000,000. That's how many people there are on planet earth'. Then I ask, 'How many of those people have heard of Coca Cola - or Microsoft, Nike, Honda?

And then I enquire, 'How many of them have heard of your business?'

This generally gets a laugh and someone is bound to hold up their hand making the zero gesture. For most of the other participants their customers number only a handful.

Since you can't sell to people who don't know you exist, task one for increasing sales is to let your market know what you do and how to contact you.

At this point I sometimes get the comment, 'Our customers know where we are if they need something'.

But things never stay the same, new organisations are born, old ones become dissatisfied with their existing suppliers, personnel change. The market place isn't static there are always new opportunities.

Besides, we exist in a global village these days. Nowhere on the planet is more than 24 hours away by plane. With phone and email it's only seconds.

So we can proceed in two ways; first look hard to find more prospects in your immediate area. Second, consider where else in the world you can service. You may not need a local office, agent or staff; for many organisations the internet makes them redundant.

Make a start like this; where are your main customers? In that geographic location, how many other organisations are there which could potentially use your products or service?

There are many sources of information. In the past, you'd take a huge directory and pore over it to extract prospects. Now you can do all that on-line with little effort and usually free of charge.

Simply use your favourite search engine and enter the name of a location and a relevant product or service. Example, This is what Google gave me today: Results 1 - 100 of about 656,000 for Electric motors Yorkshire.

Or look for a directory of your product and the area <(your product)(area) directory>. If you find one, compared with the first method, you will save time going through the listings.

Either way, you'll have plenty to get started with. Then you can consider if there are other districts / cities / regions / countries where there are users of what you supply.

If you are serious about wanting more business. Here is a very simple method which always, repeat, ALWAYS works.

Every day, contact a few new prospects, briefly introduce yourself and tell them what your business does and send them some information.

Suppose you called 5 new people a day, which could be done in half an hour, and you kept this up for a month. 5 X 20 days equals 100 new contacts. If there is even a little demand for what you do, a percentage of the people you reach will be interested. Let's assume it's only 5%. Now you have got 5 extra customers after a month.

Apply some self-discipline, keep the program going, and after a second month you have 10 customers you wouldn't have had before. Pretty soon you are going to need some help to deal with all the jobs that are coming in and your turnover will be climbing.

And on the subject of money, what has this process cost? Apart from phone calls and perhaps the printing of flyers, there has probably been no other expense. You haven't paid for advertisements or a marketing consultant.

Sounds good doesn't it, a lot more customers at little or no cost? Then why don't more business people follow this simple plan?

There is a collection of answers - 'don't have the time', 'you can't do that in our industry', 'it's unprofessional', 'it wouldn't work', 'people hate unsolicited calls'. But in reality, what these protests amount to more than anything is fear of the unfamiliar.

Anybody who has done sales the hard way, door-knocking around houses, industrial estates or cold-calling on the phone for a really tough sale, such as advertising space, insurance or real-estate listings knows that even if it's not always fun, it works. And that is with difficult products.

But if you offer something that is not widely promoted, you'll be surprised at how interested and welcoming prospects are.

They don't say 'go away and stop bothering me', typically they want to know more, and ask for information to be sent or for someone to call and see them.

You don't need to talk anyone into anything, just let them know you exist.

If you enjoyed this article, take a look at my book.

The Selling for Engineers manual

About the Selling for Engineers Manual            


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