Last week, I wrote a blog post about the Marketing Trifecta… the three fundamental marketing things you need to do to help grow your firm. In this post, I want to talk about the Sales Trifecta… yep, you guessed it – the 3 selling things you must do if you have sales responsibilities for your firm.
We work in an industry that does not really embrace ‘selling.’ Sure, there are some exceptions – panel companies and tech companies, for example – but most in this industry grow their firms with “seller-doers,” those research professionals who have the added responsibility of selling.
So, for all of you seller-doers, I’d encourage you to build your efforts around these three elements:
Seek first to help… then to sell
If your first touchpoint with a potential buyer is “Hey, John… can I sell you something?” (Yes, I’m exaggerating… a little), you don’t stand a chance. But, if your first touchpoint is more like, “Hey, John… I think you’ll find this resource interesting,” or “I think I have a solution to that challenge you’re facing,” maybe, just maybe, you’ll get a chance to move forward together.
So, focus on helping… share resources, invite to events, blog frequently, make introductions for people, speak at conferences, etc. Do these things enough times and buyers begin to see you as a helpful resource. And it’s those ‘helping’ conversations that will lead to ‘buying’ conversations.
Similarly, if you’ve been invited to deliver a capabilities presentation about what you do… DON’T spend the first 20 minutes talking about what you do! They already know what you do. Instead, start helping immediately by showing them how you can help them solve their problems. Talk in those terms and you can’t help but be successful.
Stay in touch
Why do we lose clients? Could be for many reasons… but the #1 reason we lose clients is that we get arrogant. We assume that the high quality of our work is enough to keep them coming back… and so we ignore them and focus on other things between their projects. And when it might be 6 or more months between those projects and they’re not hearing from you (there’s that arrogance!)… guess what? They ARE hearing from your competition. And that’s when you lose them.
So, part of your job as a seller-doer is to stay in touch with your clients… frequently and consistently. Send a check-in email, pick up the phone once in a while, make sure you’re connected on LinkedIn and post frequently, take them out for coffee if you’re nearby, send birthday cards & gifts, schedule a zoom happy hour and so on and so on.
It’s impossible to build a healthy company on first-time clients. Your top priority should be to keep and grow your existing clients… and that’s why these touchpoints are sooooo important!
Follow-up, follow-up, follow-up
The reason that most salespeople – full-timers and seller-doers – fail is that they give up too soon. They check-in with the buyer once or twice after sending a proposal, for example, and when they don’t get an immediate ‘yes,’ they assume it’s a “no”… and move on.
To be successful in sales, you have to follow-up… a lot! Until you get a concrete ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ Not once or twice… but 5 times, 8 times, 10 times… whatever it takes. You have no idea what’s happening in the life (business or personal) of your buying contact – and why they’re not responding to you quickly – but assuming that they’re not interested is a bad assumption.
Maybe they really aren’t interested… but it’s just as likely that they’re super busy with a big project (and right now, worrying about a new vendor – like you – is not a top priority)… or they’ve been on vacation… or been out sick… or their daughter got married… etc., etc.
So, follow-up (your first meeting, any meeting, the presentation, the proposal) as many times as needed until you know where you stand and what next steps are. Don’t be a pest… but be persistent. Emails, phone calls, video chat invites… whatever it takes. And these follow-ups don’t all have to be sales-related. Just sending a link to a relevant article keeps you top-of-mind.
Following-up effectively is the most important thing you can do to improve the outcome of your sales efforts.
Like the Marketing Trifecta, the Sales Trifecta is a bit of an over-simplified approach to sales success. But the three elements are also absolutely critical… you will not be successful if you don’t do them. And do them well. By all means, do other things… lots of them. But start with these three and build from there.
Good luck and good selling.
This coming January, we will be presenting the 4th Cohort of the Seller-Doer Workshop™. It’s an online event developed specifically for researchers, project managers and business owners who have the added responsibility of growing revenue… but don’t have the knowledge, skills or tools necessary to be successful at it. Learn more at SellerDoerWorkshop.com.
EARLY BIRD SPECIAL: Register by November 30th to SAVE 20% at registration.