Have you ever hired a sales rep for your firm?
What were your expectations for his or her success?
I am amazed by how often I’ve heard something like, “Our new rep didn’t bring us any new projects in his first two months – this ‘sales’ thing isn’t working out!”
C’mon… you’re not selling cars where you can meet a prospect (and by the way, at a car dealership, the prospects come to you with an immediate need), build quick rapport, offer a cheap price and close the deal – all in a few-hour window.
We work in a professional services industry… where we’d like deals to close deals that quickly – but we all know it just doesn’t work anything like that.
First, our prospects rarely come to us… connecting with them requires a good website, good marketing and a little outreach by your sales team just to find qualified prospects.
Then even when you do find them… do they have a need? Sure, there will always be that latent need (i.e. Fortune 5000 companies are always doing some kind of research). The challenge is, do they have a need right now? More often than not, the answer is ‘no.’ They just wrapped up a project… or the next few are already committed to another supplier … or they just don’t have one for a while.
So, then, what do you do? Well, now it’s time for relationship building and staying top-of-mind. This means phone calls, emails, sharing articles & other resources… and time.
Remember, no one will buy from your firm or your sales rep until they go through the internal process of getting to know you – like you – and trust you. And that takes time.
And even when a prospect finally gets through that process, there’s still the reality of waiting until they have a project that’s a fit for your services. And that means – wait for it – more time.
Note: And then when you get the chance to bid on a project – which is often out of the hands of the sales rep – you have to craft the winning bid, beating out several other competitors, at least one of whom is already entrenched with the prospect. What’s your bid conversion rate?
It’s like investing in mutual funds for your retirement… while you’d like them to deliver a high return immediately, the fact is, they’re an investment that delivers results over time. Sales in our industry is no different. As a business owner, if you’re going to invest in Sales (and you should), you’ve got to be patient and remember… sales success takes time.