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[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]I have a good friend who owns a business representing and selling automotive assembly parts to OEMs. In addition to selling engineered products, my friend also sells small inexpensive parts that are simple to manufacture and are highly commoditized in the marketplace.

Over the last 15 years, my friend’s business has grown steadily, including with the small commoditized parts cluster. I recently had a chance to talk with him and find out how he is so successful in selling these particular parts.

Oh, By the Way Sales

My friend said that the phrase “By the way” has become his favorite phrase to hear. While many of his competitors interact with prospects or customers every 2-3 months or so, he spends a great deal of time engaging customers and prospects in-person and over the phone. He often reaches out just to touch base and perhaps help an engineer on a design question that may or may not be directly related to my friend’s particular part.

His frequent interactions seem excessive until you consider the ad hoc opportunities that arise. Every so often someone will see him and say, “By the way, I have a question for you.” This question frequently ends up as an opportunity for him to propose a solution. And he has seen a good deal of growth through several lucrative contracts signed that first originated as a By the Way conversation.

As I think about my own sales efforts or those of my clients, two things strike me.

First, By the Way opportunities only arise when you’re already in a conversation; you never start a new conversation with the phrase. By the Way implies that you are already engaged in dialogue. So, if you want By the Way opportunities, you need to be in ongoing conversations with your prospects and customers.

Second, By the Way opportunities are typically underdeveloped, giving you the chance to shape the solution to the problem. The issue at hand is not yet significant enough for the person to initiate contact with you, but it is on his or her mind and is something they’ve been thinking about. Perhaps they were going to contact someone else but then happened to hear from you and ask you first. It becomes an opportunity for you to help them think through the problem at precisely the time when it’s on their mind. It’s a business developer’s dream.

With ongoing interactions and addressing needs that arise, it’s a natural way to grow business. And, by the way, it works.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/4″][/vc_column][/vc_row]