A Note From Alice: Do your prospects forget about you? Sales cycles can drag out and salespeople may not be patient enough to outlast the cycle. Sales managers may be telling salespeople to move on, and sometimes those reps should. When you already have a long sales cycle and a deal is exceeding that, what should you do? If you push your sellers to give up on deals when the sales cycle seems to stretch on forever, you may be losing out on revenue. Sometimes it takes years to build a relationship with a client, but the payoff can be huge. Your role as sales leader is to help your salespeople know when to move on and when to continue to nurture a relationship.
My friend Caryn Kopp published a blog post about this topic and I wanted to share her ideas with you. She’s spot on!
#1 Sales Tip Given To 1000 Business Leaders
At a recent conference, I was asked to share a sales tip with an audience of 1,000 growth-focused, business leaders. As I took the microphone, I considered which of my top tips would be most valuable for them.
I could have gone with, “Sell something people will pay to have.”
Or, “Inbound marketing alone doesn’t always get you meetings with your wishlist prospects. But, the right sales strategies layered on top of these marketing campaigns will get these meetings.”
Or, “If you really want to get in the door with the right prospects, stop spending time on all the wrong ones.”
I can go on. I opted to share one tip based on a recent trend among business leaders, sellers, and prospects that’s becoming one of the primary reasons why sales don’t close.
First the trend, then the tip.
Trend: Longer Sales Cycles And Less Patience
I’ve seen an elongation of the sales cycle in almost every industry with which I’ve worked. Finding out why this is happening is not half as important as analyzing how businesses respond. The longer it takes to get from the initial meeting to closing the sale, sellers AND management become more fatigued and frustrated with taking the necessary steps to stick with the sale, deepen the relationship, and close the deal. This combination is an unfortunate recipe for lost sales and wasted investment in sellers and marketing campaigns. Some leaders even encourage their sellers to give up on prospects if they don’t close in the time period management believes is acceptable. A technology business I know had an initial meeting with the CIO of one of the largest banks in North America. The CIO expressed interest and wanted a follow-up, but because there wasn’t an immediate need, the business owner saw no value in the relationship. Mistake.
Decision makers report that when sellers drop them like hot potatoes after they don’t immediately buy, they find it so disrespectful that when the decision maker is ready to buy, they will NOT include the offending seller in the deciding set.
Opening the discussion and creating interest paves the way for the competitor who IS willing to stick with the relationship and create a real partnership. Who do you think the CIO would rather work with when the time comes?
Here’s an example. One of our Door Opener clients, TeamPAR, a trusted NJ company for flooring and interiors, closed a sale worth more than $1 million from a prospect they met three years ago. The decision maker had needs, but the budget was dedicated to other business priorities. The TeamPAR president, continued to stay in touch, providing value and showing partnership through the years. When the prospect was ready to spend, there was no RFP or multiple bids. The entire sale went directly to TeamPAR.
Now, Here’s The Tip
Keep at it. Don’t let your best prospects forget about you. Make sure you are top of mind with prospects in meaningful ways so when they are ready to spend you will be there too. When you focus on the health and the depth of your relationships with people, the money follows.