Being an entrepreneur. According to many, a wonderful profession. But there are many entrepreneurs who no longer enjoy acquisition and sales. Times have hardened, you are told ‘no’ more often and once you have lost inspiration, the potential customer notices – with all the consequences that entails. That is perhaps why the sales agency phenomenon is on the rise during the recession. Get rid of the acquisition and focus on perfecting the products or services you offer. A vague dream, or reality? And if you are considering a sales agency, what should you pay attention to? The ladies from sales agency Sales Plus answer some questions. Also the difficult one. Being an entrepreneur. According to many, it is still wonderful to be able to work as your own boss, but that does not alter the fact that times have changed. Selling has become more difficult, the competition is greater, and the pond in which you all fish is becoming smaller. In addition, many entrepreneurs – perhaps surprisingly – find selling their service or product the least enjoyable part of their business. If you could, you would outsource your acquisition and sales… so that you can focus on the service or product. And guess what? Which can.
Acquisition: cold or warm?
Acquisition, or the acquisition of orders or customers, can be divided into the types of ‘cold’ or ‘warm’ acquisition. Cold calling involves offering a product or service to a potential client that you do not yet know. In a manner of speaking, you can get the candidates for such a process straight from the Yellow Pages, but many companies also request data from the Chamber of Commerce of companies with which they could do business. Warm acquisition involves offering your product or service (repeatedly or not) to a client who is familiar with you. Think of the situation in which you were able to provide a company’s Christmas packages last year, and this year you knock on your door asking if you can do that again this year. What do entrepreneurs prefer to do? Warm acquisition is not only the general preference of entrepreneurs because it means you don’t have to take the plunge, it also fits in with an important trend in life and business: namely focusing on the relationship first and continuing to develop and maintain it sustainably. . From a warm contact, the step towards offering a product or service is much smoother, and moreover, the potential customer is more likely to call you if she or he has seen or heard from you last month.
Cold calling, brrr
Retaining customers is more important than acquiring customers, according to research by, among others, agency Graydon, specialized in business operations and bankruptcy prevention. It leads to a more sustainable income and also saves money. Recruiting new customers for your product is still indispensable for the entrepreneur. One of the hard facts of the current recession is that customers are more likely to switch to a competitor if it has a slightly better offer. Customers who do stay may result in a leaner filling of the order portfolio. Add to this the practice in which more and more entrepreneurs are forced to give significant discounts and do not pass on issues such as VAT increases to the customer, and it is clear: sales and acquisition are more important than ever. However, a more striking word has rarely been invented than ‘cold acquisition’. Because the term alone makes many entrepreneurs feel cold. Things aren’t going so well, so you quickly get the feeling that you are one of the many beggars knocking at the company gate!
Could you please do that for us?
Well, as a company you have to keep a close eye on things. But there is still something to be said for outsourcing acquisition and sales. Firstly, because this way you have your hands free to do what you need: creating or maintaining a distinctive service or product. Moreover, not every entrepreneur is at home in all proverbial markets. Many entrepreneurs are actually not great at sales and acquisition, and then your attempts are weaker in advance than those of someone else with the right expertise and drive. In these types of cases you could consider the services of a sales agency.
Should I outsource that to a stranger?
A sales agency that is currently making progress and even expanding is Sales Plus, specialized in all steps of selling between company and company. This concerns both that little-loved cold calling and a personal sales conversation. That does raise questions: especially as a smaller company, you know the customer like no other. Should you outsource that to a ‘stranger’? And what does such a stranger know about your company? Daphne Lodewijk and Daniëlle Spaans from Sales Plus are questioned. Why, for example, does a sales agency achieve success in such bad economic times? Daniëlle Spaans confirms that the clients she sees find it difficult to create and perfect products or services as well as to get involved in sales. And many of them indeed have difficulty with cold calling, as Spaans also agrees. Daphne Lodewijk adds: Companies find it difficult to find the right contacts with prospects. They clearly see the added value of a sales agency that acquires for them structurally and in depth.
Oh no, another call center lady
Our hair stands on end when we have to hear such a pre-programmed story on the telephone, and without an invitation: oh no, there is another call center lady. Doesn’t that also apply to Sales Plus? Daniëlle Spaans says firmly: We are certainly not a call center. We often work for business to business customers who are launching a complex product. This requires a lot of our empathy and the level of our employees. The Sales Plus team consists of highly educated, mainly women who have good social and commercial skills. One of the annoyances of call center contacts is that the people behind the phone often have no idea whether they are selling an ice cream or a car. A specialized sales agency must and wants to see this differently. By way of preparation, we examine together with the client what exactly the unique ‘marketable’ properties and benefits of the product are: why exactly should the buyer of a product or service have this product or service? By the way, this is a nice tip when looking for a sales agency: pay attention to whether the preliminary process is solid.
What (not) to expect
There are also things you should not generally expect from a sales agency. Namely the final submission of the client or assignment. Daphne Lodewijk: We ensure that our client sits at the table with the right customer. By telephone acquisition. It is then up to him to ultimately win the customer. It is possible that one of the people from the sales office will stay during the conversation. You could see this, Daniëlle explains, as ‘coaching on the job. Unlike other sales agencies, Sales Plus chooses to also offer that last step. Daniëlle: We are increasingly offering interim account management. We will then take over the personal conversation in its entirety. This means that the agency will indeed take over the entire recruitment process of new customers. Another important tip that arises from this: clearly discuss in advance with the sales agency which parts of the process the agency will or will not take care of. If you receive a quote, make sure you know clearly which steps are included in the price.
Learn to sell from salespeople
Do it yourself, or are you looking for a mix of outside help and strengthening your own abilities? Do something about it, take action! As salespeople par excellence, the ladies of Sales Plus see that although companies show a lot of creativity and potential, they sometimes leave some (money) behind in the field of sales. A final tip for the entrepreneur who wants to boost sales and acquisition: take a workshop or short course in sales skills and acquisition. A relatively small investment in time and attention can give a major boost to your motivation and skills. Another tip: don’t choose an organization, but individuals. And people who really have something to say about successful sales, and have the corresponding CV. Also pay attention to the style of writing and communication that the agency conducts with you. You yourself are the test case when it comes to the question: does this agency or person entice you to do business together?