My friend Chris Clark, a Mohawk Territory Manager, sent me an email the other day about the importance of calling on end users and contractors. With business having been so good in the 90's, Chris feels that many of his dealers may be neglecting this profitable aspect of their business. At this time it's wise to think of all possible avenues and look outside your business as well as inside for new customers. In addition to picking up some new customers you are adding a stronger foundation for your business. 

Here are Chris's tips:

  1. No one likes to make cold calls, so warm yours up before you go out. Before you call on anyone, go online to find out who you're calling on, their background, how long they've worked in the field and anything else that's pertinent to your call.

  2. Make a list of end users, contractors and specifiers in your areas. Who do they represent? What types of products do they use and who do they presently do business with? Get yourself armed with this information so that you are focused and know the purpose of your call.  Business is tough for everyone so the more you know and the less time you waste the better.

  3. Remember that with outside sales the possibility of sales is endless and you don't have to wait for the customer to come into your store. With business slow everyone needs to go out and "beat the bushes" as they say. In addition, think of how your attitude will improve everytime you find a new customer.

  4. Objections? Sure, many of the people that you call on already have suppliers. This doesn't mean that they aren't looking for the future. In addition, good business takes time, business that is based more on value than price. It's up to you to have the patience and the knowledge.

  5. Don't forget the annual report of a business and other subs that also call on these businesses. Hopefully you belong to a leads club or a networking group and can ask if there's anyone that might know the person you want to call. Can someone provide an introduction for you, in person or make a phone call on your behalf?

  6. Want to increase your value? Know as much about your new contact's business as they know. Know their challenges and how you can supply them with solutions. This also means you've done your homework and they're not just another customer to you.

  7. Plan not only the products that you want to show but your presentation. I'm amazed at how many salespeople know their products but stumble through their presentation, not anticapting objections and questions.

  8. A good salesperson knows what to expect from their customers. If you do mostly retail business and you're going out on commercial calls you'll have to brush up on "what makes these people tick." One thing to remember is they're used to buying products, are aware of pricing and always are looking to save a dollar.This doesn't mean that they won't pay higher prices. It's for sure they won't pay you more money for the same product that they purchase from someone else at a cheaper price.

  9. If you want to play the game "their way,"all  things being equal winning this game means having the cheapest price. The key is to change the rules of the game. Changing the rules means changing the products, providing  an additional service that they can't get that has value. When I was in the commercial floorcovering business I remember one of my installers, instead of standing around watching her husband and son install the product, she would clean the windows and the window sills. Unknown to me she couldn't stand the carpet fibers and dust that was created during the installation so she took out her glass cleaner and started to "tidy up." The word got around and she became the deciding factor on some of our jobs. Stella was our added value.

  10. Don't hurry the process. Put together a plan, how can I add value, what written material would be useful to your new customer?

  11. Get yourself dressed up, a jacket and a tie. Looking like you care what you look like also gives the impression you care about how your jobs look. Get yourself a good looking briefcase and hit the road.

Next time: what to do when you get there.

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