Proactive Sales Techniques to Grow Your Customer Base

By: Pierce Edwards
Oct 26, 2022

Businesses are constantly faced with responding to unanticipated occurrences in everything from sales to operations. But a company that is constantly reacting to situations leaves little time or energy to lead, and the business can find itself adrift. Particularly in sales, proactive strategies are often more effective at delivering success and dealing with both everyday and unexpected challenges.

Proactive Selling vs. Reactive Selling

Let’s consider a pair of scenarios. A prospective customer is considering a purchase. They approach the salesperson and begin asking questions. The sales representative answers every question directly. The buyer has their answers and leaves. Another customer showing interest is approached by the salesperson. They volunteer important information and share insights into the product or service, anticipating frequently asked questions and steering the conversation toward a completed sale. Afterward, the satisfied customer is happy to provide a referral.

The first instance is an example of reactive selling; the latter is an example of proactive sales techniques. While both methods can be effective, there are many advantages to choosing the proactive process for growing a business. 

What Is a Proactive Strategy?

Proactive selling drives the salesperson to proactively pursue and secure the sale. Proactive selling provides more control over a potential sale and can be utilized across all forms of marketing.

Proactive sales and marketing are effective because they establish trust with the potential customer by anticipating their needs, displaying empathy, and providing solutions to issues the customer had not yet considered.

Proactive customer service means anticipating customer expectations and making the first move. While individuals sometimes complain about being approached by so many companies, they feel differently when it’s something they’re interested in purchasing. In fact, a survey by InContact found that 87% of respondents wanted to be contacted proactively by businesses, and 73% of customers who had been contacted proactively and had a positive experience said that it led to a positive change in their perception of the business that contacted them.

7 Tips on How to Be a Proactive Seller

Here are seven proactive marketing strategies (plus one bonus tip) to help you grow your business by becoming a proactive seller.

1. Take charge 

A proactive sales approach is where the salesperson actively takes charge of the sales process or conversation instead of simply following the client’s lead. To perform at this level, the seller must be fully prepared and able to understand the customers and their wants and needs and educate them when needed. In situations where customers are neck-deep in facts and information, having an authoritative voice to lead them through the buying process can lead to a more successful outcome.

2. Be prepared 

Sound planning inspires confidence in your sales force and, by extension, in your customer. Perform the research necessary to demonstrate to your prospect that you’ve made the effort to understand their needs and concerns. You can use LinkedIn (and other social media platforms) as a compelling resource to gather information about businesses and prospects you’re actively pursuing. You can find educational institutions, people you have in common, and organizations you support that can initiate a conversation and open the door to a sale. And when a prospect asks if you have experience with a company like theirs, and you don’t, LinkedIn can show you businesses from a similar industry or of a similar size that you can learn about and use to prepare an answer.

3. Refine your brand image and sales pitch 

Stand out in a crowded marketplace by having a well-defined brand voice. Brands can stand out for different reasons, such as creating a distinct personality or providing strong content or storytelling. Your clear and consistent brand voice must have the proper tone and deliver the appropriate messaging for your current business priorities.

4. Engage and re-engage with potential customers

Nurture strong customer relationships by providing a mix of touchpoints that give your customers multiple ways to interact with you. An absolute must these days is to monitor social media feedback on all of the channels you have. (And you really should have some.) By simply responding, you display interest and concern for your customer and can help resolve issues in full view of others who are watching and evaluating your company. Another way to engage is to be active in industry conferences, events, and awards. There is much networking to be done, and presenting yourself as a leader or at least a participant creates opportunities to engage.

5. Master the question 

Take advantage of the opportunity to ask questions of any customer at any stage of interaction. Use every chance you get to build a relationship by providing opportunities to discuss your product or service and widen the conversation by probing for insights the customer might share. Ultimately, this helps move the sale process along to completion.

6. Let people respond naturally

Online or in-store, allow your customers the opportunity to inquire, address, or respond to you the way they are most comfortable. Whether by phone, email, or text, the more options you provide, the more feedback and interaction you will generate. And don’t think feedback is all about complaints; it’s not. For years, Starbucks has obtained customer feedback through its My Starbucks Idea platform to collect ideas from customers on products, their in-store experience, and the company’s involvement in the community. It was essentially free market research, and in its first year, it generated more than 70,000 ideas. By encouraging more communication, you will reap more data, and your sales teams can have a more efficient and informed conversation with their leads.

7. Question your customers 

Open-ended questions are the best way to not only qualify leads but also understand what problems there are to solve. For B2B, instead of asking a close-ended question such as “What do you sell?” or “What are you looking to buy,” try asking open-ended questions that can be more fruitful, like “What challenges have you been facing?” or “What keeps you awake at night?” For B2C, the theory is the same. “What is the most important consideration you have about this?” or “Tell me about what you’re looking for.” To be sure, there’s an art to asking these questions. But open-ended questions will deliver more than a short “yes” or “no” answer and provide chances for more rewarding results.

Bonus tip: Your voice

On top of everything else, consider how you are delivering your proactive advertising and messages to prospective clients. Today, it’s vital to communicate like a human being, which simply means you should write the way you talk. A conversational tone is much easier to read. Compound-complex sentences make the brain work harder to process before the reader can understand them. So, make sure any message is instantly and easily understandable.

Creating proactive promotions and sales strategies involves a lot of preparation and training. But by continuously monitoring and evaluating progress and making incremental gains along the way, a proactive approach will differentiate you from your competitors and allow you to produce better results faster.

  1. About the Author:

  2. About the Author:

    As Principal with Valesco, Pierce Edwards’ primary role in this position includes new investment origination, financial & business analysis, due diligence, and investment process management. His responsibilities play a key role in our team’s ability to deliver on our commitment beyond capital.

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