Farquharson/Tedesco on Business Development: How to Hunt Successfully
Today, we're not talking about up-sell, cross-sell or any other "farmer" sales type activity for existing accounts. For the next 1,000 or so words, we're going to hyper-focus on being a red meat predator, a hunting pro, a top-of-the-food chain new business development champ.
No matter how well established you are in your career, how large your existing book of business, at some point nature catches up. Leaves wilt, seasons change, contacts leave, mergers happen and, sometimes—usually when the timing's awful—you'll discover you need to hunt.
The trick to successful hunting is to hunt before you need to. Of course, we all know this. Sales managers preach this. Talking heads talk this. But actually working the hunting process while biz is flowing is something quite different. Your trusty consultants can't supply motivation to hunt for new business. Neither can your boss, even when dangling rewards or threats. Whether you hunt or not, is completely on you baby! And your bank account!
So now you've got religion. You need to hunt and you're willing to do something about it. What next? Two words: Expert and Finite.
Be an EXPERT in the Eyes of the Client
Imagine you're a print buyer. Would you rather buy from a print salesperson or a print salesperson with expertise in your line of business? No brainer, eh?
People want to buy from people who know their business simply because they don't want to train the trainer. Doing this feels like a waste of time and effort. Affinity is a good thing. Widget people feel comfortable around widget people. Banking people think other banking people add value. Buyers want access to your expertise and—here's the dirty little secret—are willing to pay for it. Expertise is differentiation. It's a leg up on competitors for doing nothing other than being yourself.
Oh, here come the yabutts.
Yeah, but no print salesperson can be an expert in everything.
Right! Therefore you really should focus your target list in places where you can claim at least some degree of expertise. Take a look at your existing account list. (If you're new, use your company's account list instead.) What are the common threads? Retail? Manufacturing? Agencies? Associations? Healthcare? Other verticals? Where your experience lies, so does your expertise. Choose "suspect" and "prospect" accounts that look like others where you've experienced success.
Yeah, but what if you're new to print sales? Can you be an expert?
Of course you can! For example, if you once were in the insurance business, you could sell marketing and communication solutions to insurance companies. Insurance is an annuity type of product. So is selling print, in a way. Once your foot's in the proverbial door, opportunities keep rolling in, unless you screw up. If you were an insurance adjuster, then you know the importance of servicing accounts on an unpredictable schedule. Guess what? This sounds a lot like what print buyers need: service pros able to work on serving unpredictable demand. Once you build a base book of business in the insurance industry, it's not a stretch to claim expertise in financial services because that's a related industry, too!
Bring it on baby!
Yeah, but what if this print sales position is your first job?
You're still an expert at something. Do you like the great outdoors? Then you know what it's like when outdoor products have poor instructions or lousy packaging. You know the annoyance when outdoor signage fails to communicate properly. You intuitively know substrates, protective coatings and folding sequences that make rugged-use maps easy to use and successful.
Now you get the point! We can't guess where your expertise lies, but no matter who you are and where you've been, your experience translates to customer benefits for like-minded groups of people and organizations somewhere, someplace.
Now you've got your areas of expertise nailed. What next?
Work a FINITE List of Verticals
What does your list of suspects look like? Have you combed through your metro area's Book of Lists? Scanned your business associations' member lists and imported them into your CRM system? Googled until your eyeballs turned to Jell-O?
How about focusing on your selected areas of expertise? Build a finite list of these verticals. For example, your authors have both put their kids through the college admissions process and therefore can claim some expertise in that area from the other side of the aisle. A reasonable next step for us would be to make a list of admissions officers for all of the universities in our areas and create a systematic plan of attack. Sounds simple, but simple is best.
Forget about qualifying the hundreds of suspect companies tucked away in a rarely used corner of your CRM system. Instead, choose the ones where your background adds value and qualify only those.
Your hunting effort is limited by hours in a day. We will argue 'til we're blue in the face that too many names on a list is a negative, not a positive. Wildly successful reps tend to work far fewer accounts, all of which are extremely well-qualified.
We're going to stop well short of recommending a specific number of accounts to call upon, because the right number can be significantly different for different people and types of printing businesses. When deciding upon the number of accounts you can effectively work, consider how demanding the servicing requirements are in your current book of business. For example:
- If you're a 20-year vet with a decent base of existing accounts, you might only be able to dedicate a handful of hours each week to hunting for new accounts. Therefore, a couple of dozen accounts might be your sweet spot.
- If you're a newbie, your revolving door of suspects to qualify might easily exceed 100 or more.
- If you're with a company that sells a complete print management solution with a long selling cycle, then a half dozen well-chosen prospective accounts might be the right number for you.
No matter how many accounts you choose, limit the number of your suspects and prospects to a carefully selected, finite number and stick to it. Then work 'em baby! Be disciplined. Maintain a finite number of accounts chosen for maximum fit with your personal areas of expertise. You just might be amazed at the results. See you next time! PI
About the Authors
T.J. Tedesco is team leader of Grow Sales Inc., a marketing and PR services company that has served the sales growth needs of graphic arts companies since 1996. He wrote "Win Top-of-Mind Positioning" and eight other books. Contact Tedesco at (301) 294-9900 or email@example.com. Bill Farquharson is a vice president at NAPL. Farquharson can help drive your sales. Visit www.aspirefor.com or call him at (781) 934-7036.
Bill Farquharson is a sales trainer for the graphic arts. Email him at Bill@AspireFor.com or call (781) 934-7036. Bill’s two books, The 25 Best Print Sales Tips Ever and Who’s Making Money at Digital/Inkjet Printing…and How? as well as information on his new subscription-based website, The Sales Vault are available at BillFarquharson.com.