It pays to develop a market. The more in business-to-customer selling like a bank or insurance agent does. Market development is focusing your energies on one or two large markets as opposed to scattering them in all directions. Here are three benefits of market development.
Most salespeople complain that they have too much to do — making calls, preparing sales action plans, developing and maintaining a customer database and on and on.
Well, as this column has averred, the progressive salesperson has only three activities: customer facing, computer facing and ‘air’-facing. Only the first pays the dividends you will be judged upon.
Focusing your efforts on one large employer or small and medium enterprise (SME) area (like Industrial Area) inevitably leads to maximising your customer-facing time and its dividends. The average seller busies herself with the latter two: email correspondence, browsing the Internet and travelling (not merely moving) from one sales meeting to another and then laments her lacklustre performance.
Solve problems as they happen
Market development lets you solve problems as they occur (that is, in real time). The alternative is to be reactive. You learn from the office, in church, or the pub, that this frustrated client is poisoning all who care to listen, against you or your company. You struggle to put out a blazing inferno or, hope it will blow itself over, yet all you would have had to deal with was a candle flame. You would have been the angry customer’s first and likely only point of contact.
Market development builds credibility and trust. You are not there just for the bouquets but for the barbs too. And because you are in its face, you become intimate with the system and close faster. You know how to get certified copies of payslip because the payroll manager is your client, you get referrals by asking this client to dial the extension of the next one to introduce you, you get introductory letters from an employer for your clients faster because the human resource officer loves how you are there for them.
High return on investment
Prospecting — looking for new clients — is the cornerstone of successful selling. If you do not prospect, you ‘die’.
Focusing on a market solves this problem because you go to where the prospects are. In addition, with client facing time fully optimised and credibility and trust too, it is only a matter of time that you get into that magical place where few salespeople ever get to.
While the rest of your colleagues struggle to look for new clients, you wallow in the joy of being spoilt-having prospecting done for you by your advocates.
They tell you of this new lot of interns who have just joined and need a bank account, you find the institution waiting for you to ask about the opening — say, a medical scheme with your institution — you finally reap the ultimate return on investment — you ‘own’ this market.