Let's put it this way—winning new clients is a bit like dating. You wouldn't walk into a first date without knowing anything about the person you're meeting, right? Here’s how to optimise your approach in a consultative, yet amicable way.
Identifying Your Ideal Client: Swipe Right or Left?
You may recall that we discussed grading your current customers in a previous blog. Now that you have a clearer picture of what your 'dream client' looks like, it's time to go find them. But wait—before you pick up the phone, make sure you're reaching out to prospects that actually align with your wishlist. After all, wouldn't you rather be in a room with someone you actually want to talk to?
The First Call: Your Sales 'First Date'
As a sales consultant specialising in engineering businesses, I can't emphasise enough the importance of preparation. Imagine going on a first date and asking, "So, what do you do for a living?" when their job is all over their social media. Doh!
It's the same with sales calls. Do your homework. Know at least the basics of what the prospect's company does, and, if possible, have their website open during the call for quick reference. In this blog about how to find potential clients for your engineering business, I've also highlighted how LinkedIn can serve as an invaluable resource for identifying new business contacts. Before making that initial call, consider browsing your prospect's LinkedIn profile to gain insights into their professional background, what they look like, and who else they're connected with in their industry. This prep work not only equips you with a fuller understanding of the individual but also facilitates a more meaningful and targeted conversation.
Mastering the Art of Conversation: It’s Not All About You
When introducing yourself and your company, keep it short and sweet. Decision-makers are busy people. Get them talking as soon as possible. Building rapport is not about showcasing your subcontract engineeirng business; it’s about fostering a balanced conversation. Just as you wouldn't dominate a social interaction by talking incessantly about yourself, you should approach sales calls with the same conversational finesse.
Devil's Advocate Alert: It's All in the Questions
I often see salespeople wrap up calls without really understanding the prospect's needs, only to kick themselves later when they realize they could have offered a much better deal. Remember TAMMING & PAMMING from the same blog about grading your customers? This is where it really pays off. Pepper the conversation with open questions. These are questions that can't be answered with a simple 'yes' or 'no,' and they allow you to dig deeper into your prospect's needs. Write down a few 'go-to' open questions before the call to keep the conversation flowing. Here are some examples tailored for a subcontract engineering company speaking with a manufacturing buyer focused on bespoke components:
"Can you walk me through the types of bespoke components you usually require?"
"What specific quality standards do you look for in your components?"
"What budget range are you working with for these components?"
"What's the typical volume for an order of bespoke components in your operation?"
"Have you faced any challenges with your current or past suppliers?"
"What's your ideal turnaround time for a project like this?"
"Could you describe the material specifications and tolerances you require?"
"Are there any upcoming projects that will require different types of components?"
"Who else is involved in the decision-making process for selecting a supplier?"
"What do you value most in a long-term partnership with a supplier?"
These open-ended questions serve multiple purposes. They help you understand the prospect's specific needs, allow you to tailor your value proposition more effectively, and build rapport by showing genuine interest in solving the prospect's problems.
Confirm to Affirm
Repeat back what you've learned to confirm your understanding. Reiterate key points back to the prospect to validate your comprehension. For instance, you might say, "So, you specialise in aerospace manufacturing and you're in need of high-tolerance aluminum components with a quick turnaround. Would it make sense for us to discuss how we can meet these specific needs in our next meeting?" This approach not only demonstrates that you've been attentive but also builds credibility by aligning your solutions with their exact requirements.
Know Your Objective: Seal the Deal or Set the Next Date?
To put it bluntly, you're unlikely to 'score' on your first date. Aim for something achievable—maybe it's an email where you can send further information, or for more high-value prospects, aim for scheduling an in-person meeting. According to Google, cold calling is often a long-term strategy, requiring an average of eight interactions with a prospect before landing your first order. These touchpoints can vary from emails and phone calls to face-to-face meetings and LinkedIn messages. A common mistake is to abandon efforts after just a few unsuccessful attempts. If you're aware that the prospect outsources work that aligns with your capabilities, persistence is key. Don't lose momentum—keep pushing forward. Try reading this blog about how you can measure your proactive success using KPIs here.
The Human Touch: People Buy from People
This may be a digital world, but never forget that we’re all human. Feel free to add personal touches to your conversation. Maybe you find out your prospect is also a huge fan of football or loves Motorbikes. Use this information to build a genuine connection. Just gauge the level of personal conversation they're comfortable with—it varies from person to person.
In summary, whether it's dating or sales, the principles remain remarkably similar. It’s about asking the right questions, building a genuine connection, and confirming your understanding to show you’re engaged. It's not just about the numbers; it's about creating a meaningful relationship. So the next time you pick up the phone, remember—you're not just selling; you're building a relationship. How's that for a consultative approach?
Tired of the cold-calling grind?
Let Qimtek handle it for you. As a Qimtek supplier member, you'll gain a competitive edge without the hassle of endlessly chasing down leads. Our team of professionals specialises in connecting you directly with qualified prospects that fit your subcontracting niche in engineering. We not only find the right clients for you but also initiate the conversation, laying the groundwork for a fruitful business relationship. Plus, our membership offers a range of additional benefits, including targeted marketing support and exposure to a broad network of industry leaders. Why invest countless hours on the phone when you can focus on what you do best—providing top-quality engineering solutions—while we bring the opportunities directly to you? Make the switch today and experience the transformative power of becoming a Qimtek supplier member.