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?