The 18-Month Rule
Once upon a time, a sales rep walked into the lobby of Humongous Corporation, a Fortune 500 company headquartered nearby. The receptionist greeted her warmly and they chatted for a few minutes before the sales rep asked if the key decision-maker was available.
He was, and promised to come out immediately.
They shook hands and the sales rep said, “My name is Allison and I work for FarkaBerry Printing. We are a full-service company capable of handling all of your communication and marketing needs. It would be our great honor to be of service to you and Humongous Corporation.” The decision-maker listened intently and replied, “I like you. I like your approach. I like the name of your company. I think we would be a good fit. If you have time, I have several orders I would like to place immediately. Please come to my office. I will give you the PO’s and you can let me know the price later. In fact, if we could sign a long-term contract of exclusivity, I would really appreciate that.”
Bill Farquharson is a sales coach and trainer. He can be reached at ...
Hold on a second. There are one or two things wrong with that fairy tale. Let’s back up on this fairy tail and find the core issue that started a series of fictional events.
Before we cover the client offering up a voluntary long-term contract and the fact he had orders to place now; before the instant vendor approval and even his immediate availability (and never mind the fact that the rep walked in through an unlocked door and was greeted by a human being) comes one of two truths about landing a Big Fish account:
It takes 18 months, minimum.
No one walks in and gets an immediate audience.
No one walks in. Period.
The operative word is “persistency” (or “persistence,” if you prefer). Then:
- Start by targeting a few large accounts;
- Build a process of valuable touches;
- Keep engaging;
- Engage some more;
- Insert musical interlude signifying months of time passing, and then ...
- Get a response;
- More time passes;
- First appointment;
- Meanwhile, your newborn has grown up, graduated college, worked, and is now retired;
If you want your fairy tale to end well, start with the right target and apply a LOT of diligence.
Bill Farquharson is a sales coach and trainer. He can be reached at 781-934-7036 or firstname.lastname@example.org