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Are You Invisible to Most of Your Potential Clients?

If your sales are consistently flat, probably so. Consultant and author Kim DeMotte explains the best, most cost-effective way to become visible to the right prospects.

 

Tempe, AZ (February 2004)—It's an oft-cited adage in business that you can't be everything to everybody. Few would disagree. Problem is, you know you have an exceptional product—and your sales force has a great close rate—but your sales are still flat. Even though you know it's a bad idea to broaden your established target, to take on clients who aren't really a good match, you're tempted. Don't succumb, says sales effectiveness expert Kim DeMotte. It's never a good idea to waste time on prospects who aren't right for you. What you might consider, instead, is the possibility that you're invisible in the marketplace. 

That's right. There may be thousands of potential customers out there who don't even know you exist. What you need is a good, efficient method for becoming visible to the ones who are real prospects. DeMotte—founder and managing partner of Power of NO™ and author of The Positive Power of NO: how that little word you love to hate can make or break your business (2003, Facts on Demand Press, ISBN: 1-889150-40-1, $17.95)offers an example from his own experience:

            "While working with an earth-moving equipment dealer client recently, we discovered, based on government UCC-1 filings, that his sales staff was 'in on' only about 30 percent of the sales that were made in his territory," DeMotte relates. "In the arena of compact construction equipment, they enjoyed about a 21 percent market penetration in this area, which meant their sales staff was closing about 70 percent of the deals they were involved in.  And this 21 percent was repeated for about the past six years, so everyone was 'comfortable' with it.  After all, their sales team had a 70 percent close rate, right?  But what about the 70 percent of sales they weren't in on?  Who was selling those customers and how…and why?"

Despite an aggressive direct mail campaign that reached more than 18,000 contractors and sponsorship of numerous "name recognition" events, DeMotte's client was experiencing flat sales, year after year. His buying client base stayed fairly constant with a few old ones falling off and a few new ones coming aboard.

"There was incontrovertible proof that every year hundreds of pieces of equipment were being sold and my client never even knew it!" exclaims DeMotte.  "He was invisible.  By virtue of his invisibility, he was not allowed to participate in 70 percent of the sales being made right in his own backyard. When surveying some of these contractors, we were amazed to hear repeatedly that they didn't even know that this brand was represented in town. Yet, in our recent recession, sales growth was not an option. So, what to do?"
            Ultimately, DeMotte convinced his client to target the 11,000 names on his mailing list to whom the equipment dealer was obviously "invisible."

"Power of NO™ brought in the Catch & Release Prospecting System to quickly sort through this blind list and figure out who was worth spending sales resources on and who wasn't," he explains. "We hired and scripted a call center representative at about $12.00/hr. to quickly and effectively, by telephone, assess each prospect. Properly equipped and scripted, the Catch & Release-trained call center rep will make about 140-150 calls per half-day!  In contrast, the average sales person, IF he makes prospecting calls, will make roughly eighteen per week. Clearly, the sheer volume of calls together with the carefully written script had to yield some new business for my client—and indeed it did."

Could you benefit from this methodology? Well, if you fit certain criteria—if you sell business to business, for instance, or if you have a large database of potential customers—the answer is almost certainly. DeMotte suggests that you take the following steps to increase your visibility quotient:

 

• Do exploratory surgery on your database. Go through your list with a fine-toothed comb. Divide the names into two categories: List A includes those who are "on the books" as having bought from you in the recent past (say, the past three years); List B encompasses those who have never bought from you. You must assume that you are "invisible" to those names on List B.

 

 • Hire a reputable call center. Now that you know who you're "invisible" to, don't have your sales staff start working the list. Right now they need to focus on the loyal customers who make up List A. (Remember the old cliché about a bird in the hand.) Instead, hire a call center to sort through the names on List B. The call center representative should not try to sell these potential clients; all he or she should do is determine whether or not you should devote any sales energy to each name on the list.  

 

• Instruct the call center rep to DISqualify potential clients both logically and emotionally. DeMotte explains how this worked with his aforementioned client: "The system assessed a prospect's Logical Qualification (did they ever buy or rent this type of equipment?) and Emotional Qualification (was there a specific reason why they would be in the market in the near future?). Because of the large volume of calls to be made, it was the standard practice of the call center rep to quickly and easily allow the prospect to DISqualify himself: 'NO, I never purchase or rent this type of equipment.' 'NO, there is no particular reason I would want to talk to an equipment specialist in the near future.'  And if, by that point, the prospect had not disqualified himself, the call center rep suggested politely that what usually happened next was a call from one of her equipment specialists—but not unless that's what the prospect wanted.  Here was the third place a prospect could DISqualify himself… a simple 'NO, thanks' would end the call.  If the prospect was still with our call center rep, we termed him an FTD ('Failed To Disqualify'), and arranged for an equipment specialist to get in touch."

 

• Now, give the FTD list to your salespeople. The time-consuming part has already been done by the call center rep! You now have a list of Logically and Emotionally Qualified potential clients who have stated that YES, they DO want to speak to a salesperson. Imagine how happy your team will be to receive this list!

 

Using a call center to become visible to the right prospects can be an extremely efficient and effective way to boost your sales. How efficient and effective? Well, consider what happened with DeMotte's equipment dealer: 

"In the first 90 days, my client gained 58 FTDs, 13 sales to the group who here-to-fore considered my client 'invisible,' and over $100,000 gross in new and used equipment sales," reports DeMotte.  "This was 'found' business. The salespeople didn't have to spend their valuable time searching for a few needles in a huge haystack. They were able to spend it on prospects who had already been screened on their likelihood of saying yes, and, of course, on those valuable current clients. Time is money, after all—and becoming visible to the right prospects is how you use it to your advantage." 

 

# # #

  

About the Author:

 Kim DeMotte is the founder and managing partner of Power of NO™, a St. Louis-based firm specializing in improving corporate sales and management effectiveness. He works with companies developing strategies for saying "NO" when and where it is appropriate. He has successfully owned and operated two distribution companies, a manufacturing company, two service companies, a software company and a consulting firm. He can be reached at kim@powerofNO.com or at (877) 245-8250. For more information on The Positive Power of NO, visit his website at www.powerofNO.com.

 About the Book:

 The Positive Power of NO: how that little word you love to hate can make or break your business (2003, Facts on Demand Press, ISBN: 1-889150-40-1, $17.95) is available at bookstores nationwide, major online booksellers, or directly from the publisher by calling (800) 929-3811.

 

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