This is part three of a three-part article.

Create Opportunities

According to Peduto, salespeople spend the majority of their time managing existing accounts and very little time prospecting for new business.

“Most sales teams don’t make their numbers because they don’t create enough opportunities,” he says. “The best place to get opportunities is from existing accounts, so ask for referrals.”

Sales consultants also advise distributors to increase their social media activities.

“Most buyers today are on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram,” notes Pancero. “Just picking up the phone to call someone is not as effective as it used to be. You need to find other ways to reach customers.”

Finally, don’t overlook the value of expanding connections at existing accounts. Most sales reps will settle to have one solid contact at any given client. But the reality is that staffing changes over frequently and without multiple contacts in place, a sales rep could risk losing the account. Multiple points of communication will create better account stability.

Be Flexible.

Sales reps often sell to one personality type: their own. To connect with a wider range of customers, experts encourage salespeople to adapt their approach to the customer’s mode of learning and communication.

“If sales are stalling or not moving through the pipeline, that could be a red flag that your approach isn’t right,” says Peduto. “The best salespeople are self-aware and able to adapt their approach according to different personality types.”

Changes in body language, tone of voice and presentation style are some of the techniques sales reps can use to customize their approach to different clients and connect with them in more meaningful ways.

“Just because I look at the world a certain way doesn’t mean all my customers see it that way,” says Peduto. “Some people learn and understand things visually, some verbally and some by touching or doing.”

A strong salesperson will observe and listen to the customers in order to determine how they best receive sales messages. They will then adapt their approach accordingly.

Think ahead and plan multiple moves in advance.

Pancero cautions sales reps not to be a Hellarewe Bird: A three-foot bird that lives in four-foot grass and spends its whole life saying ‘where are we.’ He shares this anecdote to illustrate the point that most sales reps only think one move ahead.

“They need to plan ahead,” says Pancero. “Don’t wait to see what customers say before figuring out your next step. Go to them and suggest that if they like what you’re talking about, this is what they need to do next.”

No doubt, building long-term customer relationships takes time and is not without trial and error. With the right support and training from management, sales teams can fine-tune their approach and meet or exceed their quota.

“Distributors need to foster a professional relationship with their salespeople that respects and rewards what they do,” says Miller. “Understand that this is a collaborative effort, and everyone has to work together.”

Kassandra Kania is a freelancer based in Charlotte, North Carolina. She is a frequent contributor to Sanitary Maintenance.

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Sales Should Focus On Products, Not Discounts