If you met with a few government purchasing agents in 2019 and gave up because new business didn’t come pouring in as hoped, chances are you could benefit from making deeper connections with the people you want to serve. Of course, the number one rule of marketing is to know thy customer. This year you can resolve to learn more about who uses what you are selling, who makes the decisions to buy, and more. Better connections with more prospects can only help to increase your odds of landing new opportunities.
If you have met only with
purchasing agents you may be missing out on opportunities to sell your goods or services to the countless end users who regularly buy for departments and offices throughout the organization’s territory.
When you Need Help
From the public library, to SCORE, Small Business Administration, and the Small Business Development Center, there are a variety of resources that can point you in the right direction to learn more about your market. The internet can also yield information that helps you find the people you need to meet.
On Your Own
You can often identify buy decision-makers online, where you can gather initial details about them through their websites or LinkedIn profiles. LinkedIn provides some options for account-holders who want to conduct targeted searches for potential customers by business category. Using characteristics such as industry, job title, geographic location, and company size, enables users to build a list of potential leads. When you can not find a prospect directly on LinkedIn, you may find that you already are connected directly or indirectly with other LinkedIn users who can make an introduction to the person you would like to know.
If the customers you seek are on social media try to connect there. Not to make a sale, but rather to get acquainted as a first step toward building a relationship. Many government entities, including Clark County, can provide a list of key Purchasing agents and the types of goods and services each is responsible for buying. Agents are often open to meeting in person with potential suppliers when time allows. When you have the good fortune to meet face-to-face, be sure to ask good questions and make listening a priority.
What to Listen For and Why
Active listening will enable you to identify what challenges the agency most wants to overcome, what makes purchasers buy the type of product or service you offer, when those purchases are made, how, and who makes the final call on which suppliers to use. All of these details are critical to your ability to speak directly to the needs of the organizations both in person, in all of your marketing activities, and every quote or proposal you submit for consideration.
In many instances, your category of product or service may be purchased directly by countless end users throughout the jurisdiction you are seeking to work with. For example, Clark County encompasses multiple cities and each routinely makes a variety of purchases of all sizes, from toilet paper, to office supplies, janitorial and maintenance services.
Relationships to Facilitate Sales
One of the best ways to turn off almost any human being is to call and announce you are selling something. A better approach is to make your initial contact a fact-finding mission to gather information. For example, if you provide family counseling services you might ask a contact at a family services agency how the organization ensures that children with behavioral problems get the help they need. Ask about the challenges your contact deals with when outsourcing services to strengthen families. You will also want to find out who makes the decisions about where families should go for therapy, and how those decisions are made.
The questions you ask will vary depending upon the type of business you are in. Here is a partial list of entities to explore as you seek to pursue new business opportunities this year.
Identify agencies that might be a good fit for you to work with, add them to your list of prospects, and get started on what we hope will be your best year yet. Use your new connections to help prospects understand the problems you can help them solve, the results you can help them achieve, and why your company is the best supplier to consider when the time comes to buy.