Supply Chain for Infrastructure: Selling successfully

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Editor’s Note: Mike Scher is Co-Founder & Chief Sales Architect at FRONTLINE Selling, a B2B sales prospecting platform helping companies reach decision-makers faster.  He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

With the proposed budget of $1 Trillion for infrastructure investment over the next 10 years, supply chain companies will see an increased demand. Whether you are the flagship company in a bid or the supporting player in manufacturing, technology or logistics, every supply chain provider should be abundantly prepared for these new opportunities.

But more than just having your shelves lined with ready-to-ship product or more trained service staff, your sales teams must be ready.  It is imperative your sales managers and their teams are poised to out-perform the competition. Since no one can get to the last conversation without securing the first, every sales person must be the very best at getting that critical first appointment.
 
Below are four ways to improve early outreach to begin converting B2B leads to sales:

Say Hello not Buy Now. The nature of cold-calling means it is unexpected so you have likely interrupted their day. Launching into your pitch immediately could end things before they start. Instead, quickly provide context for how you can help, remembering that your goal is to get them wanting to ‘learn more’ rather than ‘buy now.’ Stay disciplined, hold back and be purposeful to pique their interest so it leads to next steps. However, if the stars have aligned and it actually is the perfect time for them, don’t fumble the ball! Have everything you need in front of you to make this a positive and purposeful first meaningful interaction.

Social media matters. Human to human contact and selling by phone is critical for success but always research the prospect social presence (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook Business, industry portals, etc.) with two purposes: 1) Find out all you can about key decision makers as well as identifying others who could be part of the process since typically 6.8 people are involved in major B2B purchasing decisions; 2) Review backgrounds of managers to arm yourself with “ice-breaker” commonalities or relevant news such as an acquisition or a new position. This information will be helpful at the beginning and throughout the sale.

Value is what sells. Cost may matter to some but when price is nearly the same, value is how to separate yourself from competitors. Communicate features such as same-day repair and replenishment, unlimited employee training, and continuous automated upgrades. Never attempt to sell your equipment or service by saying you have “the highest quality at the best price” because every other company says the same thing. In the first interaction, the key is leading with your unique value to transition your call from being a seller to a solver. 

Follow-up with context, always. Never send an email that requires custom narration. For example, don’t send general price lists or training opportunities that may suggest something costs more than it does or is more complicated than it is.  And, don’t require them to do the calculating! Only use email to send info on the company but never with “buying information” unless it is customized for their specific account.

With more abundant opportunities coming to the supply chain sector, your sales teams must be fully prepared to stay ahead.  Companies famously invest in training for “the close” but too often prospecting is overlooked. Change that. Provide your sales teams with training and know-how for all phases of the sales cycle because closing skills are useless if you can’t successfully navigate the most challenging stage: the first one.
 

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