FAQ’s Accountability

Answering more of your questions.  If you have a question we haven’t answered email me at kschwartz@springboardbizdev.com.

How Do YOU know what we’re doing?

ACCOUNTABILITY – this can be an interesting word with business developers.  We used to do huge spreadsheets detailing everything.  What we found was that it detailed our networking as it pertained to that client, our partners, our prospect meetings, etc. but it didn’t allocate time for all the emails, calls and follow ups and no one read it anyway.  Business developers by nature aren’t much for time tracking and it took hours per spreadsheet to complete.

Recently we changed our entire communications structure and each consultant follows similar requirements.  While some do still prepare the big spreadsheet every month we are all in constant communication with our clients.  We’ve had some clients tell us to limit communication until we have a strong prospect on the line and need their involvement, we used to agree to such a request but that’s no longer the case.  We’ve found that even when the prospect asks us not to communicate they ultimately get frustrated because we didn’t communicate and so here’s what we’ve done to address the communication concerns.  After every networking event, meeting, partner conversation, strategy discussion that pertains to a client it’s documents via voice recorded email and sent to the Springboard office to be added into our CRM under the client and the prospect.  The office then sends the email to the appropriate client for a quick update.

This keeps our clients up to date in real time.  While some find the additional emails frustrating we’ve found that it’s the best way to keep our clients in the loop so they can prepare, send us necessary information, give us any pointers or dates we may need, and feel more confident in their business development efforts.

FAQ’s Your Card or Mine?

I’ve compiled a very long list of questions we receive everyday and it typically starts like this “So, how does this work?”.  Over the next week or so we’ll be answering those questions and I suggest if you have additional questions please email me directly at kschwartz@springboardbizdev.com, we’d love to answer them for you.

Question 1 –

Do you carry our business cards or yours?  Do you act as us or you with the prospect?

We’ve done both and we find that it’s actually easier if the prospect knows we’re from an outside firm.  They typically tell us more information as they aren’t concerned about us “selling” them and we can really play the consultant role in determining if they are the right fit for you.  As an outsourced business developer it’s imperative that we remain focused on the goal – creating long term happy client relationships and that means being able and committed to walking away from deals that don’t work.  The prospect doesn’t really care if we show up as you or as us, what they care about is how we treat them.

Regardless of who we show us as we are representing you and the prospect knows why we’re there.  They usually ask how we work and what our relationship is to you.   We explain that we’re working with you to focus on business development and finding right fit clients while you continue to grow your business.  They know once we have determined a good fit you will come in as the expert.  They appreciate your dedication to your client base and they respect your efficiency in hiring a sales team.

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?

It Really Is YOU not ME

I’m sure at some point in your dating life someone said “it’s not you, it’s me” and you believed them.  It doesn’t mean that it was a bad thing that your relationship didn’t work out although at the time you were probably devastated.  The same happens every day in business and whether it’s you or me is irrelevant; we’re just not the right fit.

A few blogs ago we talked about our Client Acceptance Protocol and the changes we had to make to ensure we are focused on working with the right clients.  We find that there are certain business owner traits that coincide with a certain size and type of client and we’ve learned over almost 5 years where we can and cannot be successful.

Here’s what we look for in a client:

  • A unique offering, product or service
  • A CEO who knows how to delegate and outsource
  • A CEO who understands their sales cycle
  • A client who is looking to build long term happy client relationships and not just transactions
  • A respectful leadership team and corporate culture
  • A leadership team who truly understands their people are their greatest asset
  • A leadership team who regularly, consistently communicates and receives feedback with grace

What we know doesn’t work:

  • A CEO that’s a micro-manager
  • A CEO without a vision of the future of the company
  • The CEO who believes that their people are the smartest and their service is better than anyone else – this is usually the person who is not living in reality
  • A CEO or corporate culture build on disrespect
  • A CEO or leadership team that cannot accept feedback or places blame on everyone else
  • A CEO who thinks their team is disposable

As you can see it’s not easy to tell one from the other in a meeting or two.  Everyone puts their best foot forward in an interview and no one will tell you they are a passive aggressive nutcase or they micromanage everyone and everything.   People have asked why in our Client Acceptance Protocol have we instituted meetings with other members of the company and with clients along with attending new prospect meetings…this is why.  You can learn a lot from seeing someone in action, how they respond to questions, how they handle adversity.  These meetings allow us to learn more about the company, its process, its unique capabilities, and most importantly it allows us to see who we’re really partnering with.  Every day we put our relationships and our reputations on the line for our clients and one bad client can ruin years of work, we look to ensure that never happens.  Outsourced business development is a team  approach; we rely on each other to close deals and if we can’t trust the behavior of our client, we can’t in good consciousness represent them

 

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!

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Sources:

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