How to Manage Sales Opportunities

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Some foreign trade salesmen are keen to develop customers, but they cannot pay enough attention to follow-up tracking. Therefore, the development is very hard. And even in the late stage, because they track customers inactively, they always lose opportunities to take orders.

As the saying goes, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. So foreign trade clerks need to learn to manage sales opportunities, learn to allocate energy, and focus on those orders that are coming soon.

I often say that if the mail in the customer communication is likened to football, it is not difficult for a salesman to constantly kick the ball back to the customer. Just empty the inbox every day and don’t let them pile up. The difficulty is to let the customers kick back the ball, especially when you are very busy, but customers have many balls. At this time, can you still ask them returning the ball?

Have passion to develop, but not attach much importance to tracking. I used to make such mistakes because I knew how to deal with it when it is at my feet, but it is easy to “forget” them when they are not.

Covey divides the task into four intervals with two dimensions, urgent and important. We often pay enough attention to urgent matters, even if it may not be so important. For customers, why don’t we? Often spend time emptying the inbox although some mails are not of importance. But some of the most important things are sent to customers, and if they do not reply, we are easy to “forget” them.

Pyramid-type foreign trade sales opportunities

According to customers in different stages, we can divide the customer into: Potential customers (cold prospect), inquiry customers, opportunity customers, PI customers, and transaction customers.

We use an excel table to manage these opportunities. Salesmen were very uncomfortable at first and thought it istroublesome. Later, I explained to them that these are the target customers who can’t escape once they enter your sight. This is often a gold tower structure. Think about how many potential customers you need to develop an inquiry customer. Then how many inquiries have told you: “I want to place an order”? Then, how many orders you finally can successfully get from these customers and from the PI, even if you sign with PI, is it 100% paid and got execution?

So I told the salesman that the higher the value of the customer at the top of the pyramid, the higher the probability of success, so our work must be done from the top down. First look at the maintenance of the order customer and the old customer, then sign with the customers who have not paid for the PI, then the customers who have recently ordered, the customers who have recently queried, and finally the new customers.

From the salesman’s excel form management and the structure of the gold tower, I can find many problems.

For example, some people have a lot of cold prospects and a lot of enquiries but little PI, which means that the salesman has invested a lot in development, but there seems to be some shortcomings in the follow-up.

On the contrary, some people have a lot of PI and opportunities, but have rare inquiry customers, showing an inverted triangle shape. At this time, the salesman should be alert, and must increase the development efforts. Otherwise, the opportunity on the gold tower will be converted. The old one is finished, and the stamina is not enough. At this time, the salesman needs to increase the intensity of development and maintain the stamina.

From the slope of this gold tower, the conversion rate of the salesman can also be quickly analyzed.

For example, some salespersons have a very good inquiry conversion rate, but it is relatively low when the opportunity phase is converted to PI. It may indicate that the salesman’s early development work is doing well, the ability to negotiate is insufficient, or the ability to deal with in a competitive environment needs to be strengthened, and targeted guidance can be provided.

Even for customers who have signed PI, the final payment ratios of different salesmen are different. Some salesmen may even reach 100%, while some salesmen may only have 50%. After analysis, it is found that these salesmen have some bad problems of over-promotion, or are not confident. After the customer signs the PI, they also sell to the customer, say something that should not be said, or say some negative hints, letting the customer lose confidence or trust.

Sales with a good turnover ratio are often those who are motivated, optimistic, and enthusiastic, always thinking about things in a good direction, even if their English level is average. This is very consistent with what I often say: the best deal technique is the “default deal”, that is, you always think that the customer is ordering, so you are always a positive hint.

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