Challenging Sales - you can do it.
After all your easy sales, your next focus should be challenging sales where you have one of more strikes against you. They'll be a little bit tougher to win, but not nearly as difficult as the hard sales where you find yourself battling against nearly all the odds.
As with any other sale, you need to determine what your potential is for return on investment, and zero in on those that have the greatest potential for good return. Otherwise, you're spending valuable marketing time and money on a long shot.
A good rule is to stay focused on sales opportunities that have at least a 75% chance of success. This is one of the small business ideas that I learned when it comes to sales calls and writing proposals. If it's a long shot, and you clearly haven't a chance in hell of winning, then why bother?
What Makes for Challenging Sales?
The idea with challenging sales is that you have at least one major hurdle to jump over before you have a reasonable chance of winning work or selling a product or service. Typically, sales are made when you have a known product or service, and a known provider of that service.
If you're missing one of those elements, then the sale becomes a challenge because you need to overcome a lack of confidence in either you or what you're offering. Being an unknown is more of a detriment than having an unknown product or service because people do business with people they like.
An Approach to Overcoming Challenging Sales
Here is an example of how I have overcame resistance to challenging sales. If it can work for me, it can work for you.
Years ago I was working in the utility business which required travel all over the world. I had seen enough of this country and others, and I wanted some work right here in Cheyenne, so I could leave the suitcase behind when I went to work each day.
So, I started contacting local industries. I landed a conversation with a technical manager at a local plant, and we started talking about his needs. He was interested in what I had to offer, so I arranged a meeting with him and his boss.
At that meeting we talked about my experience and we talked about potential work opportunities. I was an unknown, and my experience wasn't in his industry, so I wasn't "tried and true" in his marketplace. This was what made this opportunity one of the challenging sales for me. I had no relationship with these gentlemen.
I brought along a copy of a large technical guide that I had put together. This showed an example of my work. This helped make me a known quantity, instead of a completely new guy on the block.
The supervisor and manager were on the cusp of identifying work that I might start on, so I offered something to nudge them over the edge. I wanted their decision to be a no-brainer. They knew of my work - it was sitting in their hands. However, I was still new to them, so I offered that my first project work would be done at no cost if they didn't like what I did, how I did it, or were dissatisfied in any way at all.
Since I was the decision-maker of my company, and one of the men in the room was the manager and approving authority for his company, we could come to terms on how the transaction would be completed.
This was good. Success was near at hand.
My "risk free" offer was sufficient to make one of my challenging sales turn into a successful contract for work. I had eliminated all objections, eliminated their potential risk, and shown them my capabilities and interest in serving their needs with local talent.
Apply Insights and Close the Sale
The next time you're facing what you believe to be challenging sales, just take the time to determine what it is that's challenging about the sales opportunity. Is it your:
- time in the marketplace?
- relationship with the customer?
Once you figure out what makes it one of the challenging sales, then you can craft a proposal that will overcome objections and put the customer at ease. You have to be reasonable in terms of what you offer. Placing yourself in the customer's shoes for a few minutes might provide you with insight as to what your customer might see as reasonable.
All you have to be is reasonable. Don't give your product or service away in order to be successful with the sale, just be reasonable and show an interest in doing business.
Remember one of the key small business ideas - you have an advantage being a small enterprise that can be responsive. Don't forget about that benefit when proposing inducements to close a sale - just compensate for other weaknesses that you perceive are at issue.
Done with Challenging Sales, take me back to Small Business Advice