How Fast can you Close Deals?

When I’m asked a question like this I immediately start to wonder if this prospect is the right fit.  Why are they asking this question?  I get it, you’re looking for Return on Investment, I understand completely, you’re putting out money and you want to know the value of what you’ll receive in return and here’s the answer…I don’t know yet.

Let’s face it sales can be a bit of a crap shoot.  Anyone who guarantees you increases in sales/revenue at “x”% is without question lying.  A couple things we need to consider:

 

  • What’s your currently sales cycle?  Why is it that long?  Are there challenges that contribute to the length of the cycle or is it just that long?
  • Who is your potential buyer?  And why?  How do you connect with the potential buyer currently?
  • Do you have a presentation or marketing materials?
  • How do you price?
  • Who’s your competition?  What do they do really well?  What’s unique about you?

Many of these questions may seem silly but here’s why I ask:  We can typically shorten the time it takes to get to a decision maker but the sales cycle is the sales cycle.  You should not expect any major changes to the amount of time it takes someone to close a deal just because you’ve hired an outsourcing firm.  That being said it’s not uncommon for us to close deals in half the time it takes you but for others it may take longer.  It depends on the complexity of the deal, the process necessary to get the deal complete (RFP, multiple decision makers, large vs small deal, etc).  We find that many of our clients don’t have a strong grasp of their target market or they target someone they want to be a client but will never be one.  We find that many of our clients have little marketing materials that are usable while others have too much and it can become confusing for the prospect.  We don’t rely on marketing material but it can be a good conversation starter so it’s certainly helpful if done right.

When we ask you about your competition there’s nothing that drives me more insane then hearing you say “Well, our people are smarter and our service is better.”  As if your competition would actually say, even if it were true, that they hire below average staff and their service stinks.  This is the equivalent of telling your prospect “blahblahblahblahblah”.  What makes you unique, if you don’t know, it’s time to figure it out or you can forget competing – you’re essentially making yourself a commodity and now it’s all about price.

Pricing.  Oh pricing, it can be the devil in this relationship.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve taken a prospect into a decision maker for a deal that would double the revenue of their company only for them to price the project so far out of the realm of possibility that the prospect is literally in shock.  They loved you, you came highly recommended, they felt you could deliver and make them shine like the rock star they are and you blew it with cocky aggressive pricing and then you blamed me for losing the deal.  Here’s the deal, when it comes to closing with outsourced business development, it’s a partnership.  You rely on us to ensure you have a qualified lead, a decision maker with a budget and a strong connection either personally or professionally.  We rely on you to showcase your value, deliver high quality and always on time, and to price competitively.  We can go to bat for you if you’re within reason but if you’re off the mark, there’s nothing we can do to help.  In fact we’ve probably damaged that relationship by bringing you in the door.

So how fast can we close deals?  I don’t know, it’s different for every client.  Some happen within the first 2 months while others can take a year or two.  If you’re not viewing business development as an investment in your company’s future then perhaps it’s not right for you at this time.  If you’re counting every dollar and every minute that goes by you’re not seeing the forest through the trees.  Business development is about building the relationships that are going to change your business and when was the last time you built a long lasting, happy client relationship over night?

Where have you been?

I’ve been AWOL, definitely MIA from this blog – a huge No-No.  I know this and yet the business required so much of my time these past few months that I neglected the one thing I know people look for – information.  Yes I was busy, new and existing clients, a pipeline to die for, and most importantly recreating our structure.  2012 taught me a few things – like having policies in my head was probably not a good idea, sure I communicated them (or so I thought) but how was anyone to really know what I expected if it wasn’t on paper?  So it’s now on paper.

We changed how we “on-board” a client.  We found that most clients had a ready, fire, aim approach to new business development and for many the idea of target markets was anyone that breathes.  We revamped our Client Acceptance Protocol and it made sense to create one for each new client so our consultants could more easily stay on task.  Our government contractors say,” it’s easy we just focus on this agency and that agency” and yet each of these agencies has multiple silos with separate decision makers so how do you know where to go in each agency?  We’ve found that a more in-depth market review and analysis in the beginning leading to a Client Acceptance Protocol for each new client prior to pipeline development led to a stronger understanding of the client’s unique capabilities, an easier transition for the consultant to communicate most effectively with prospects and it gave the client a better understanding of our strategy.

We did a billing and invoicing policy for our clients so there are no longer any questions regarding pay structures, how it’s handled and more importantly for me who handles it (and guess what …it’s no longer me)(side question – what are the things taking up your  valuable time that could easily and cost effectively be outsourced?).   We updated our Client Acceptance Protocol and it’s in the hands of everyone in the office so we all stay on task when it comes to marketing and new client engagement.  No longer can we choose to bring on a client if they don’t fit the mold (we call this rescuing puppies).  If they don’t fit, they don’t fit and we’ll be glad to introduce them to someone else who may be able to help.  In fact over the past several months I’ve given 5 opportunities to my competition – they were just a better fit.

Rescuing Puppies is the phrase my husband chose one night about 4 years ago as we were talking about a client that just wasn’t the right fit but I knew we could help them if they would just let us do our work and stop the self -sabotage.  Of course all of our pets are rescues and there is definitely something in my core about helping and taking care of others, but sometimes, in business, I want to help them more then they want to really help themselves.  As it turns out this particular client really wasn’t ready or willing to make the changes necessary for them to thrive.  This is something we see every day with smaller companies.  Almost 5 years into the business we can now spot a “puppy” a mile away and while we may have a personal relationship with the owner and we may want to see them thrive, we know the total costs will outweigh the benefits.  How often do you take on a client that isn’t the right fit?  What have you done to ensure your clients truly fit within your target?  Where are your policies?  If you’re like me you communicated, or at least thought you had communicated the policies and yet for some reason the same issues kept popping up.  Many thanks to Susan Katz, the Growth Coach for helping me to realize that it was easier to get the policies out of my head and on paper then it was to expect everyone to be mind-readers.

So while I’ve been missing, it was time well spent.  Look for our next blog on Prospect Rants.

Five Ways to Tell You are Losing a Sale

We have said it before and we will say it again, sales is definitely not an exact science. But while there is no one way in which to go about a sale, there are some fairly common warning signs to tell you are losing a sale. These telltale signs that you are losing a sale include:

1. You Aren’t Dealing With A Decision Maker: If you aren’t put in touch with a decision maker after a few conversations, this is not a good sign. So do your best to get in contact with someone that actually has the authority to buy your product or service. Otherwise, you are wasting your time. And time is everything to a salesperson.

2. There is No Deadline for a Decision: One way to firm up deadlines is to offer limited-time discounts/offers to create a sense of urgency. If this doesn’t work, move on. You cannot waste your time on a pointless sales meeting.

3. You are Asked for a Proposal and Not a Conversation: It is hard to give someone your sales pitch if you do not meet with them face to face. After all, business is all about forming meaningful relationships. Find anyway you can to get your foot in the door and have a face-to-face conversation. This may be hard, but you have to try.

4. Your Price is Too High: What makes your product or service worth so much? If your competitors are offering the same product/service at a lower price and you cannot justify your high prices with superior service, then consider changing your price tag or losing sales.

5. Your Client Seems Indifferent: This is never a good sign. If your potential client begins to lose interest and stops asking engaging questions, you may be out of a sale.

Of course, if you do lose a sale, you should use that opportunity to grow as a salesperson. How? Checkout one of our past blogs: Learning from Lost Sales: Turning a Negative into a Positive.

Then again, you could always just outsource your sales needs to a professional business development firm, like Springboard!

Located in Baltimore, Maryland, Springboard offers outsourced sales solutions for businesses in the professional services arena. It’s simple, while you focus on you core business activities, we bring our sales expertise and connections to focus on your business development challenges.

Our approach to business development makes it easy to find new clients without the concerns of sales team turn-over, lack of sales expertise and payroll.

If you have any questions, contact Springboard Business Development by calling 410-832-7560 or click here today!

Follow us on FacebookTwitterGoogle+, and LinkedIn as well!

Sources:

Five Signs You’re Losing a Sale – And How to Save it

Is Cold Calling an Outdated Sales Method?

Ask yourself the following question: would you rather spend the day making 100 cold calls, or spend the day with existing customers to earn referrals?

Sales today has experienced a fundamental shift in philosophy. No longer is sales transactional (cold calling), simply focused on one sale at a time. Instead, sales has become more about relationship building; getting to know your customer.

According to a Nielsen poll, less than 10% of consumers trust cold calls. Conversely, 90% of consumers trust their peers. So why are you spending the bulk of your time cold calling when you should be focusing on your current customer base? These clients are a great place to obtain referrals, referrals that are more effective than cold calls at bringing in new business.

Cold calling was an effective tool before the advent of the Internet. Before, people needed you to call them to tell them about your product. Now they can get all of this information off the web. Today’s customer is more knowledgeable than ever before. This is why the sales process had to evolve.

Customers know what they want. They have done all their research online. They don’t need you to give them a sales pitch about your product or service, because they already know everything they need to know about your product or service. What they need from you is an understanding. How will you and your company benefit them, and their company? Your potential client doesn’t need to be sold on your product; they need to be sold on you.

So what are you waiting for? Get out their and start building those meaningful relationships!

If you have any questions, contact Springboard Business Development by calling 410-832-7560 or click here today!

At Springboard we offer outsourced sales solutions for businesses in the professional services arena. It’s simple, while you focus on delivery, we bring our sales expertise and connections to focus on your business development challenges.

Our approach to business development makes it easy to find new clients without the concerns of sales team turn-over, lack of sales expertise and payroll.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter as well!

Don’t Talk Yourself Out of a Sale

Do you ever feel like there is something lost in translation during your sales presentations? Do you need someone in your firm to play translator between you and your prospect?

Too often, sales presentations are riddled with technical jargon that simply confuses your potential client. A study actually found that only 3% of prospects fully understood most of the terms used in the various sales presentations they were given. This is not a very promising statistic.

Are you or someone at your firm guilty of this?

Remember, you are not speaking to your competition. If a prospect knew all of this information already, they wouldn’t need you. So make sure you are speaking the language of the buyer, not your industry or your competition. The same can be said for your website, as well. If the content of your website, collateral or sales presentation is littered with industry jargon you may be needlessly losing prospects.

So don’t make the sales process harder than it already is. Speak in such a way that your prospect will actually understand what you are trying to say to them.

If you have any questions, contact Springboard Business Development by calling 410-832-7560 or click here today!

At Springboard we offer outsourced sales solutions for businesses in the professional services arena. It’s simple, while you focus on delivery, we bring our sales expertise and connections to focus on your business development challenges.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter as well!

Sources:

Language that Kills Sales