Did you recently make the shift from engineering to sales? Or maybe you’re a new technical sales engineer at a manufacturing company or a fresh graduate right out of school. In any of these situations, you might be wondering what your first steps should be as you start your new position.
Who should you go after? And what should you do? Here are some tips for technical sales engineers on where to start first:
1) Technical sales engineers should always start with existing customers.
If you’re new to the company but the company has been around for a while, (meaning it’s not a brand new business), your boss or manager will most likely have a list of existing customers and clients. Get a copy of this list or database and start going through each item one by one.
Talk to two or three other people, ideally other technical sales engineers in the company, who have experience working with the clients on the list. You want to find out, “Who has the potential to grow?”
Don’t just ask one person because that person will be sharing only his own opinion or experience. You want to get as much information and as many details as possible about the client list so you can make good decisions.
You also need to take a look at what the client, or company, is currently doing. Are there other technical sales engineers from other companies who are eyeing them as a client? Did they come out with a new service that you can help with?
Next, rank the list in terms of who you should reach out to first. Start with number one and move all the way down to the end of the list. This ranking will determine who to talk to first, who to set a meeting with, and who to call.
You need to organize and prioritize your list. Spending time on this will fill up your sales pipeline and help you get started.
2) Sell to the unsold.
Next, find out who your company has sent quotations to in the last three years and target companies where the sale did not go through. You (or the technical sales engineer before you) already did the work to qualify this prospect, present to them, and meet with them. Your company and products were already on their radar, and it reached the point that they asked for a quotation for the products or services your company offers. Think of them as low-hanging fruit.
It’s likely that the sale wasn’t closed because the former technical sales engineer did not follow up properly. This happens often. After two or three emails or calls without finalizing the sale, many technical sales engineers will give up and move on. However, you need to re-visit these potential clients because they are already familiar with your company, so there’s a chance of closing a sale faster.
It’s also an advantage if you’re new to the company because you can come in as a fresh face. Re-introduce yourself and the company you work for. Even if the former contact person has changed or is no longer there, you can still reference the quote you sent them before.
Then make sure to set a meeting with them – either schedule a call or face-to-face visit. Don’t just send an email because this makes it easier for them to ignore the email or say they are not interested. Make it a point to talk to them personally. Selling to the unsold is very important and is a strategy you shouldn’t miss.
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3) If the person is not responding, get creative with your follow-ups.
You’ve sent the emails, you’ve made the calls, but you’re not getting a response. Before you move on, let’s make it clear that you know for a fact that this prospect is qualified. For example, they expressed interest in your product before or you know that they are your competitor’s customers. Don’t try to sell to the unsellable because you will just be wasting your time. Make sure that your effort won’t be for nothing.
If you’re sure that there is a possibility for a sale, continue to push through and don’t give up. Try contacting them via LinkedIn or even snail mail. Maybe you can once again send them a handwritten note attached to your company brochure. Try to catch their attention in creative ways. Most technical sales engineers give up after a while. Don’t do this, and make sure to follow up.
It’s also important to remember that there is a fine line between being persistent and being annoying. Make sure you understand limits and don’t become an annoyance. You can wait in between follow-ups, but don’t give up.
These are a few helpful tips for anyone starting in manufacturing and industrial sales. If you’re a new technical sales engineer or have recently made the leap from engineering to sales, these can help you get started. Keep in mind that these tips work only if you also do the work of being consistent and persistent. As long as you keep at it, you’ll soon be closing your first sale as a technical sales engineer!
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