Why No One Calls You Back

While looking through Facebook today I came across this article about why people check their voicemail and I had to laugh because it’s so true.  I don’t check my email to get the message (most of the time) I check it to make the blinking stop!  So the question is, how are you reaching out to clients and prospects?  Do you think they really listen to your voicemail?

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/04/voicemails_n_4723562.html

Let’s face it gatekeepers and phone systems have become better at keeping you from speaking to your “target” so how do you reach your prospect, how do you let them know all the awesome things you can give them?  I get emails every day from people who found me on Google, looked at my website (yes I know it needs work) and are reaching out to me to tell me how great they are at SEO, web design, blogging, etc.  and yet they found me in a search so it can’t be THAT bad, right?  Do these emails annoy me, you better believe they do.  I didn’t ask for them to send me a proposal (yes some actually send proposals), some get frustrated with me for not responding as if their frustration will make me respond, right?  So no one wants your voicemail, no one wants your email, how in the hell are you supposed to find prospects?

While part of the issue is the means by which you have chosen to communicate the real issue is what you are communicating.  Please don’t do the features and benefits vomit on me.  I don’t care that you have “x” number of years experience, went to such and such a college, are cheaper than the competition, have the best whatchamacallits…I just don’t care.   I want someone who understands my business, understands my challenges, has solutions that really work for me and understands that I don’t have the time or desire to do things because they want me to.  So what’s it really about:

  • You need to demonstrate that you understand your prospect’s industry, challenges, how they do business
  • You are flexible in communication style and frequency
  • You recognize that it’s a buying cycle and not a selling cycle and if you don’t do your job you are not permitted to go to the next step
  • You have a legit solution for me and can show me how I will receive tremendous value with your services
  • Prospects still value relationships – they need to feel like they know you and trust you, they buy on emotion (unless its a commodity then its price first) not  features and benefits.  To get to the right prospect you need to be where they are, get introduced, be viewed as an asset first and a sales person last.

Don’t forget to ask your prospect how they prefer you communicate with them.  It’s all about them.

 

 

Missing in Action

Well, I’d love to tell you some grandiose story about my travels but quite frankly it wasn’t that glamorous.  Yes I’ve been AWOL from the blog for a few months – about 6.  I’m back and hopefully for good now.  My maternity leave ends on February 24th and I’ll be back to work full time.  Our daughter Devyn Ryleigh was born on December 19th and I have to say the pregnancy was an extremely difficult one – which explains my absence.  I was so sick with this one that I was able to do just enough before passing out each day.  Our consultants have been taking excellent care of our clients while I’ve been gone and now that she sleeps consistently during the day I’m able to do some catch up before I return full time.  Such is life for the self employed, right?  There really is no maternity leave when you own a business.  Thankfully she arrived just before the holidays so for the first couple of weeks there was little to keep up with, but these last couple of weeks I’m answering emails and voice mails, getting on conference calls and hoping she stays asleep for the 3 hours I’m on the phone – and for the most part she’s done great.  I’m lucky, she’s almost 7 weeks old and for the past week she’s been sleeping 7-9 hours each night.  I can’t imagine what I’d do if she wasn’t such a good sleeper!

Is it time to ENTER the Government Market?

Commercial Firms looking to Enter the Government Market?

Are you kidding me?  Nope, surprisingly some have mentioned this as an option; even though there’s limited money, long sales cycles and a completely different process some commercially focused companies are looking to enter the government market.  After I pick myself up off the floor from laughing so hard I find that some are just chasing the idea of the big contract while others see this slowdown in spending as an opportunity to be part of the next phase or the next boom with the recognition that its years away and won’t be like the boom of the last 10 years.  If you never enter you can’t win business so at some point if there’s a desire to close government deals you need to bite the bullet regardless of the current situation.  It might be better to enter the market when you don’t expect much – any win is a huge win.  This is the company that truly understands that entering this market is an investment.  You should expect a bare minimum of 2 years activity in this market before you close a deal – for some it’s shorter and others its longer but if you think you’ll close business in 6 months you’re either smoking something or you have THE MOST amazing  widget ever.

Here’s the deal, is it a great time to enter the government market if you have no experience?  Why not, look at the environment – even long term government players are struggling to close deals.  With re-competes, less business to be had, bid protests, reduced budgets, etc those that are there now have to do more with less and if they haven’t already they will soon be forced to deal with the new reality.  That reality is a little more challenging and can be highly lucrative IF and it’s a big IF you put in the effort.  The problem is that in the past it was fairly easy to get business, just respond to a RFP and go low – you’ll get millions of dollars worth of business – not the case anymore (except the low cost – that definitely helps).  So if there’s less coming down the pike, things are taking longer to come to fruition, there’s a litigious environment why would you want to enter this market?  It’s easy, get in now, create the relationships now and prep for when the situation improves and if you get a deal it’s just icing on the cake.  It’s better to lay the groundwork now when business isn’t flying off the shelf then to feel like you’re missing out by trying to jump in when it’s going gang busters.  Again recognize that all business development is an investment.

If the government space is a desired target market you have a choice –

  • Commit to the market, do your research
  • Understand that each agency works differently and identify which is best to pursue
  • Hire those with technical knowledge and connections to bridge the gap
  • Identify where you fit and why you fit – inside each agency there are multiple silos
  • Identify contract vehicles to pursue
  • Understand your commitment – a minimum of 3 years
  • Attend industry events, join industry groups that support the mission you’ve chosen to support
  • Build a pipeline with short, mid and long term opportunities
  • Manage the pipeline consistently

Or –

  • Sit around and wait for the right time
  • Get frustrated when you have to act happy for your buddy that just closed on a big contract
  • Constantly second guess yourself
  • Prepare and identify when the right time will be and commit to action

There is no perfect time so make sure you do your homework and plan for the future.  Create a strategy to enter the market and a timetable then execute.  Most importantly create relationships and be patient.

FAQ’s What if I need help with strategy?

Answering your questions, have one – email me directly at kschwartz@springboardbizdev.com

Do you help with strategy?

Yes, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been called in to simply strategize.  Essentially these are companies who have sales staff who are looking for new, fresh ideas to move sales forward.  I love this part of our work and I do it personally.  There is nothing I enjoy more than figuring out the puzzle piece.  I can see opportunity where you can’t, I can help you get there without doing it for you.  This works exceptionally well with sole proprietors or small sales teams.  We focus on overall strategy, target markets, how and where to find decision makers, what influences them, your unique capabilities, why people buy from you, your process, your presentation, your competition, your strategic partner, etc.  Most importantly we focus on what’s holding you back.  I’m not a coach by any means but I do know sales and I find with most business owners sales is an afterthought .  If you need a business coach I know great ones and will be happy to make a referral.

The initial month of sales strategy and consulting is a full scale evaluation of the entire sales process and it’s a minimum of $2500, each following month is a minimum of $1000.  If you think this is a better fit call the office and ask for Karin at 410-832-7560

FAQ’s Do you do SALES TRAINING?

Answering your Questions, have one – email me directly at kschwartz@springboardbizdev.com

Are you a Sales Training Organization?

No, we don’t do training.  In fact, I may piss off a few people by saying this but I believe for the most part the tactics taught in sales training organizations don’t work today.  I do believe they have a purpose – mostly for commodity or high volume sales organizations.  I can see a value there.  However when you are selling a service based on building and maintaining strong relationships tactics are the fastest way to lose business.  We’ve all been through these programs and we can spot the strategies from a mile away.  Do you know how bad I screw with someone who is “mirroring” me?  I spend the entire time focused on my next move and I don’t even hear what they are saying.

Your sales cycle is a fallacy.  You need to know where your buyer is in the process and ensure they have the right information necessary to move forward but you can’t make them move forward you can only encourage.  If you’re looking for a “trainer” I know a number who are excellent at what they do, they get results and they focus on the buyer, your internal processes, your people and not tactics.  I’d be happy to make an intro.