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Do you want to be more comfortable in sales situations? How to make new customers forget that you have any competitors

A worrying thing with many companies is that they lose customers who contact them. This is perhaps something you may know from personal experience. You get in touch with a company and want to buy something. A week later, you get an answer or perhaps a quote, but by then you've already moved on. They lost you. It’s extremely important that you remove this issue entirely from your company. If a potential customer contacts you, you should toss everything else aside and devote all your time to show the customer that it's you they need to buy from.

Here is an important list to help you capture all who contact you/your company:

1. Do you and all your staff know what needs to be sent out in response to different types of requests?

2. Do you have electronic versions for those who want information via e-mail or perhaps downloadable from your website?

3. Have you updated any relevant material in printed form for those who prefer to get it by regular mail?

4. Do you have fax versions for those who still want the materials by fax?

5. Is your staff aware that information should always be sent out as fast as possible and do you have all the necessary technology to do so?

6. Do you have procedures in place to capture all requests so they can be treated continuously and by all the concerned parties? To avoid the risk of things getting lost, it's smart to have some kind of database that everyone in your company has easy access to (or even just a plastic box that says ”Potential Customers” on).

7. Do you have procedures to take care of and evaluate requests before sending them on to your sales department? This will, of course, require a definition of what qualified inquiries are. It must be a definition that everyone knows. Your job is to prepare questions to ask potential customers to determine how competitive they are.

8. Do you have procedures for how different cases are forwarded to your sellers?
Inquiries are useless unless they are quickly sent to the appropriate salesperson for a follow-up. Your distribution of cases can never be fast enough, it's that simple. Ideally, the seller should have the case one second after the customer has made the inquiry - and the seller should always look upon all requests as high priority tasks. This is equally important. Remember that lots of deals have rotted away on yellow Post-It notes. Think about the easiest way to get the contact to the seller. It may be via e-mail or phone (or you simply yell out to him/her if the office isn't too big.)

9. Do you have procedures in place to deal with and/or care for customers that don't make any purchases right now?
Sellers focus (and so they should) mostly on people who want to buy now or very soon. However, it's important to understand that there is also a large group who contact you, but who aren't ready to buy anything just yet. The routines you have to take care of customers who obviously are interested, but not ready to commit to a purchase at this minute, will give you lots of new business. In these cases it's all about relationship building and it can be done in several ways:
• You can call them sometimes.
• You can e-mail them.
• You can send out an electronic or a physical newsletter.
• You can ensure that these future customers end up on your other mailing lists.

Homework: Think about which of your future customers that you currently have on the backburner and what you can do today that will make them think of you first when they are ready to buy next time.

About the author

Stefan Ekberg has worked in marketing for small business for 20 years and has written around 30 books on how small business owners can market themselves with limited resources. . In 2012 Stefan was nominated as Entrepreneur of the Year in Stockholm.

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"The 5 minute marketer" - the book
You run a small business and you want to get ahead of the competition, but how can you give resources to marketing when you're short on time and the budget is tight? The solution is here! The 5-Minute Marketer is packed with 395 tried-and-tested ways to market your business in 5 minutes or less.