Monday, October 09, 2006

Selling Out Of Town

If you sales territory takes you beyond the town where you live, you will have challenges in developing a network of professional contacts that can and will refer business. Most people are skeptical of out-of-towners, and no matter what your be seen by many as a carpet-bagger.

The first thing you need to do when calling into a new community is to realize that everyone would prefer to do business with those who live in their city. But you can't live everywhere, so you just have to get past that obstacle.

Accept that it will take longer to build real relationships in far-off locations. You do not have the luxury of running into key contacts at lunch, the mall, church, etc... You have to be committed to showing your face in their city on a regular basis. Even though you cannot visit with everyone every time, you need to let your contacts know that you are there often.

Here are a few ideas that will help:

1. Host a lunch, happy hour or dinner with a group of key folks in your satellite territory city when you come to town. Invite an eclectic group of people who will make beneficial contacts for eachother....they will remember that you are the catalyst that brings them together.

2. Put together a monthly (weekly?) email newsletter that is full of useful information on your industry. Try to customize some of it to the specific city you are covering.

3. Ask your existing clients for introductions, referrals or just random ideas. Who can they help you meet in their city. If you do a good job servicing their needs, they will be happy to tell others about you, your product or your service. Let them know what problems you have because you live out of town, and they will want to make their city more hospitable to your needs.

4. Always praise their city. I know, you do not choose to live there, you prefer the city you already live in....but that does not mean you cannot vocalize the wonderful parts of their town. Remember, they do live there, and appreciate that you see the city as a great place...NOT JUST A CITY TO SELL INTO!!!

You will also to find allies who are not offended by the fact that you live elsewhere. In small markets that are dominated by "old-boys-networks" this will be harder. You local competition will see you as a threat and will have more access to prospects and referral sources than you can ever have. They will probably talk poorly about you and your company. Your technique needs to show that you are not worried about "competition", but rather about "adding value" to your clients. People will see this as balancing out your out of town deficit.

Finally, patience is the key. It takes a long time to build relationships remotely (heck, it takes a long time to network in the city you live!!!). You just have to stick with it and know that one day you will be accepted in the local business community. Hang in there!

Have A Great Day.



Glenn said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Glenn said...

If you are from "the big city" and your territory includes towns and smaller cities, consider joining their local chamber of commerce. This opens you up to a wealth of data from the chamber including membership lists. It also gets you some face time with the Executive Director who now views you as a member and is thus obligated to help you.