I have worked as a salesperson for the same phone company for almost 10 years. When I first started with the company, I signed up the occasional business customer but the focus was primarily on residential customers. However, a couple years ago, we decided to stop offering residential services and focus solely on obtaining business accounts.
Since it is a smaller company, I usually don’t have much of an advertising budget to work with and, as a result of that, I have to find other ways to let potential customers know the company exists and, more importantly, convince them to sign up with us so I can still earn my commission.
One of the methods I use is taking advantage of our various local area chambers of commerce. Even though most chambers I’ve dealt with are primarily geared toward pointing residential customers toward businesses, I have also discovered they can be a great way to attract potential business clientele as well if you make the extra effort.
The first thing I started doing was subscribing to the various chamber newsletters and, when I receive them, I take the time to read them. There are a couple reasons for this. First, I can sometimes find a sales opportunity. For example, if a business is adding a second location, I know there’s potential to offer them service at the new location. In fact, I’ve gotten a few sales by doing that.
The second thing I watch for while reading the letter are names. One of the hardest things about selling to businesses is you don’t always know who the decision maker is. More often than not, if a chamber newsletter discusses a specific business, it will give you the name of that person. I make sure to record that information for future use.
The second thing I started doing was attending chamber functions. This part was a bit more difficult because it usually meant working off the clock by attending something early in the morning or late in the evening (time I would prefer to spend with my family).
But, much like the newsletter, it is a great way to meet the people who make the decisions or, at very least, find out who does. Even if it is just a social event, I can usually hand out my business card and get a couple potential customers to let me call them the next day.
The third thing I do, whenever possible, is work out a partnership with the chamber. Not all chambers will do this. But, I have found some that are willing to exclusively promote our services to their members in exchange for a small kickback. Each agreement is different. Some will point customers in my direction. Others will require me to contact the customers myself but with the understanding they will vouch for me. In either case, having the chamber’s official backing does increase my chances of closing the sale.
If you are a business owner or salesperson looking to increase your business-to-business sales and have not talked to your local chamber of commerce, I recommend doing so as soon as possible.