Monday, March 10, 2014

Decide Who to Sell To

Who are your prime customers?
     In the current issue of Harvard Business Review, business administration professor Robert Simons urges business owners and operators to precisely identify who they’re trying to sell to. Although all successful retailers think of themselves as customer-driven, their definitions of customer may differ.
     Your most important customers might not be the ones generating the most sales revenue. In fact, there are circumstances where add-on sales eat up profits instead of adding to them. The best people to sell to are those that add the most value to the business. It could be a broker, such as an interior designer who sells your decorative items for a commission, or a recommendation agent, such as a market maven.
     Prof. Simons points out that there are instances in which one of the primary customers is a store’s supplier. You might be selling a vendor on the idea of giving you special prices or payment terms.
     Unless you accurately identify the vendor as a customer, you could also miss out on accurately identifying any sources of discomfort.
     Sometimes when you’re meeting with a vendor’s sales rep, you’ll have an intuitive uncomfortable feeling about the person or situation. These striking judgments almost always occur within the first few moments. Research indicates that if you’ve an abundance of experience dealing with sales reps, the quick judgments like this often pay off. They are good signals of whether you should continue working with the rep or the supplier. Overall, you’re best off dealing with vendors and sales reps you’re comfortable with from the start.
     But your discomfort might be for reasons which have little to do with the capabilities of this sales rep to help you achieve profitability. For instance, maybe it’s only that the clothes the sales rep is wearing seem wrong for the meeting. Or maybe the sales rep looks like an older version of a rival or bully from your high school days.
     In business-to-business sales, there can be a range of customers over the course of the transaction:
  • Initiators identify the need for the product or service you can provide 
  • Gatekeepers gather information and route it to the other participants in the purchase decision 
  • Influencers differ in the amount of knowledge they have, their motivation to sway the outcome, and the political power they can exert in organizational decision making 
  • Buyers are the ones who authorize the purchase 
Click below for more: 
Prune Out Cross-Buyers Who Aren’t Plums 
Court Market Mavens for Social Media 
Consult Mirror Neurons with Vendors 
Learn the Relationship B2B Customers Want

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