Successful sales in IT: from suspect to reliable customer

Customers are the foundation of a successful organisation. How can you as sales staff effectively discover the most profitable suspects and convert them into reliable customers?

Acquiring new customers is a challenge. They don’t just appear out of nowhere, and the competition is fierce. Yet it is the daily job of the sales department to track down suspects and turn them into reliable and loyal customers. But how can sales effectively identify the most profitable suspects?

One concerted definition

Before you start bringing in suspects, both sales and marketing must have the same definition of a quality lead. It is essential to establish this prior to the whole process, to avoid frustration further down the line. A good approach here is to use the BANT method. In this method the B stands for budget, how much money does the suspect have to spend? The A stands for authority, who makes the decision? The N stands for needs, what concrete need has been defined? And finally, the T stands for time frame, how much time does the potential customer have to complete a deal? Once the sales and marketing department has agreed this, they can work towards the common goal; turning suspects into loyal customers.

Prospect smartly

The adage ‘well begun is half done’ certainly applies in the case of a sales process, which begins with the identification of suspects. By investing time and energy in the search for the most rewarding suspect, you will reap the benefits in the future. If, for example, you are a supplier of tablets, then you need to know whether mobile working is a high priority for your target group. Don’t take a scattergun approach in the hope that a company responds positively, but prospect smartly. Start by analysing the current customer base. In which sector are you already well represented and where are there opportunities that are still untapped? The more specific you are here and the more you rule out, the greater your approach’s chance of success will ultimately be. External customer databases can also help find new hits you didn’t know about.

Information is key

If you then have a number of suspects in the picture, it’s wise to collect as much information as possible. Learn about the current situation and investigate the desired situation. When employees only work in the office and don’t have any appointments outside the door, a tablet as well as a desktop is probably an unnecessary luxury. But if a potential customer’s employees are running from one appointment to another, then a tablet is quite useful. Once you have enough data, it’s time to look at your own organisation. After all, what makes the company, product or service so special and distinctive that the suspect is interested anyway? In short; what is the unique selling point?

The 3 Cs: confound, challenge, connect

Once you have answers to the above questions, it’s time to approach the suspect. To create a ‘wow effect’, you will have to apply the 3 Cs: confound, challenge and connect. Dare to stick your head above the parapet and venture off the beaten track. Your competitors are already on it. Use an effective and creative media mix to from cold acquisition to hot contact in no time. Challenge the suspect with your enthusiasm. Your suspect then gradually turns into a hot prospect. Also, be authentic in every moment of contact. Put yourself in the other’s (thought) world and gradually build up a bond.

Turned the potential customer into a real one? Then comes the most important part. To obtain a reliable and loyal customer, you will have to tie him to the organisation. Strict monitoring of follow-ups, appointments and customer data is essential. A CRM system can help you make this information clear. It is precisely by building structural contact and communicating personally and relevantly that a customer relationship emerges that the customer will not quickly give up.

Good luck!