Sales Process Q&A – Part Two of Three
Continuing with the second installment of a three-part blog series, here are answers to more sales planning questions, prepared in response to a trade pub editor’s request.
Q: Timing is everything. Let the sales process drag on too long and a competitor could swoop in; act too fast and you may frighten off a prospective client. When is the correct time to close a sale, and how can salespeople get better at identifying this?
A: If someone is nodding his or her head furiously, don’t talk yourself out of the sale. When I was a newbie sales rep in the early 1990s, it was uncomfortable for me to close a deal too fast. What I didn’t understand is that sometimes a big order by my standards wasn’t a big deal by theirs. Prove this isn’t your first rodeo by thanking them for the order at the right time and concluding your business. On the other hand, if you’re dealing with a "relater" type (on the Driver-Socializer-Thinker-Relater scale), don’t be aggressive. Offer the relater appropriate time to verify their decision with their team. While this may seem like an unnecessary delay, remember you’re scoping a long-term relationship, not a one-time "event" sale.
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Q: With companies receiving inquiries in a variety of ways (e.g., phone, email, response to an advertisement), how can this information be better recorded so that the next stage of the sales process can begin?
A: Wow, this one’s tough. I’ve been battling this challenge my entire career. The reality is, inbound metrics will only take you so far, especially in well-established regional businesses. As marketing lead for, or advisor to, more than 100 companies over the past two decades, successfully tracking inquiries at the company level can be difficult. If a company’s culture is warm and supportive, you might have sales reps who readily acknowledge others who help generate leads, but this isn’t a given. If it’s a dog-eat-dog culture, your lead sources will be difficult to track. Sure, you can try to retrospectively evaluate the effectiveness of promotional activities captured in a CRM system, but the connections between new business and demand generation activities can be tenuous.
However, good news is on the horizon. If your marketing department is transitioning to an inbound marketing system complete with landing page best practices and weighted lead scoring, then tracking gets better.
Q: Do you dedicate certain hours during the day to take care of emails or similar tasks? Why or why not?
A: I like to knock off the tedium of sales (email, reports, etc.) early in the morning, but that’s just a personal preference. I’ve known many excellent sales types who do this late at night. I’m not a fan of micro-managing people’s work schedules. Heck, sales reps can do paperwork 9-5 or go surfing for all I care, as long as they’re cheerfully making quota and are consistently good team members.
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Join me next week as we complete this three-part series.
Repetitive non-sequitur: Meet in Düsseldorf?
Let me repeat the same offer I’ve made at the end of my last few blog posts. If you want to put sales growth, relevant content marketing and lead generation on your drupa dance card, contact me. I’ll be in Düsseldorf June 3-6. Reference "Christmas in June," and the first Altbier’s on me.