A Dangerous Train of Thought
Yesterday I talked with someone about my services and I was inspired to write about that experience, since it is one I hear often.
I believe the exact phrase was, “I don’t need a sales process or sales training because I get lots of business that just finds me.”
First of all, amazing! Good for you. Building a business that is successful just by word of mouth is great. It’s not easy to do and it takes some great products and service.
The problem I take with this is that it is not something you can control. When and where people talk about you is not in your control. You wouldn’t put that down as your form of marketing in a business plan, “Then people will just find me and hire me.” How does this make it an ok thing to hang your hat on when you are experiencing it.
Second, this is just one silo of your business. I look at sales like harvesting a tree for its fruit. You have the “low hanging fruit”, the term all salespeople know. In this scenario, that’s the people you have knocking at your door, referral or whatever. You also have the harvesting machines that shake the trunk of the tree as fruit falls in masses. This is your marketing campaigns, generating fruit you can harvest all at once. Email, text, social media or adwords, any of these are good digital examples. Last, the fruit that is stuck and has to be retrieved by hand, where you have to climb a ladder to pluck directly. It’s harder to do this, and this is typically the sales efforts of a direct person, harvesting the fruit you see and desire but can’t be shaken loose and won’t fall to a “low hanging” status.
This is a simple way to look at your sales activity and maximize just a few buckets that will grow your revenue.
If you are a salesperson, this applies to you just as much as it does a business owner. I work with salespeople everyday that build a pipeline, then sit back and bleed it dry before they put serious effort into putting something new back in it.
A salesperson is someone that is willing to put themselves in a prolonged uncomfortable situation for a financial reward.
It’s extremely uncomfortable to adopt new technologies and new techniques for reaching your prospects. Put yourself in a position to build momentum with these activities. Find a networking event you can attend each month that has at least 5X the number of people you need to make a sale. If you close 1 out of 4, find an event with 20 people. I call it my “20 butts rule”. If there are 20 butts in the room, so is mine. Go to this event consistently, even if the audience doesn’t change much. Just the fact that they know you will be at the next event allows them comfort in working with you. Shake the tree in person, or build an online community you can shake when you start to lose pipeline traction.
I’ll finish with this. Don’t get sentimental about the way you made money before. I have clients that used to make money by spamming offices with faxes. If they held onto this strategy for too long it would have collapsed the business. If cold calling is your thing (like it is mine), stretch and do something new. If you are an email salesperson, stop tracking open rates and unsubscribes and do something new. There is no shortages of ways to sell someone, but if you are doing what you were doing 4 years ago, odds are it’s not even close to how it used to be.
Your customers attention is all over the place…your attention should be too.