We have so many things to do. We're under pressure to meet goals and quotas. We are anxious to win new deals. Under those circumstances, it is tempting to push full steam ahead and just do with the hope that simply doing something works.
Don't do it. In many cases, it's best if you press pause and consider all the factors before taking action.
Consider how it feels when a prospect requests a proposal or a price quote. It's pretty exciting. "They like me," you think. "This is the final step. I've got this." Maybe, maybe not.
While you might be eager to agree and submit the proposal right away, you need to pause for a moment, says Andrew Rudin, in his article Improve the Odds of Getting Your Proposal Accepted. You need to think quid pro quo. What can the prospect do for you in exchange for the proposal?
According to client relationship authority Andrew Sobel, staying in touch with busy senior-level executives and developing the relationship is "a bit of an art." You want to stay on their radar, but you don't want to appear self-serving or become a nuisance.
"Very often they're not your work-with client. They're not your direct client. Often they are one or two levels above the particular project or program, but maybe they have an interest in it. Maybe they're the executive sponsor. So, the trick is how do you stay in touch in a way that adds value," Sobel said in a recent interview.
One option: if the executive is close to the project or the service you sell, you could say something like this:
"I'd like to come back to you in three or four months and give you an update and share with you a perspective we're developing on x."
The goal is to turn the meeting into a more regular occurrence, Sobel says.
These days I feel like I have a lot of things to do and not enough time to do them all. I have three separate to-do lists for various parts of my life, and some days it's a struggle to get one item crossed off.
I suspect many of you are in the same situation. And when you're pressed for time, client work and company issues get your attention while marketing gets pushed to the back burner. The blog you've been meaning to get up and running remains a concept. The blog post ideas remain scribbled notes. Corrections to the ebook you've written sit staring at you. Emails to prospects are left unwritten.
Marketing takes time, and sometimes the thing you want to do is complicated. But if you stop marketing, you will find you have an empty sales pipeline when the projects are completed.
The good news is RainToday Contributing Editor Michael W. McLaughlin says there are some easy but effective things you can do to market your service.
That's true in some sense. You can't wait for success to come to you. If you do, chances are you'll wait a long time. But it can't be a ruthless "I want it and I want it now" pursuit in which you don't care who you step on as you press forward. In fact, it's more of a "give and you will get" way of thinking.
You gain advantage when you give, says Dan Waldschmidt in his podcast interview Want to Be a Better Salesperson? Start By Being a Better Person.
If you are a lawyer, accountant, graphic artist, or any other professional who is also responsible for bringing in new business, you know it is possible to develop partnerships with your clients. You are the seller/doers who are with a project from beginning to end. Having a strong relationship with a client is almost inevitable.
What isn't always apparent, but is absolutely possible, is that salespeople can also develop partnerships with clients. Not only that, but in many cases their client relationships are stronger than those between seller/doers and clients, says Adrian Davis in a recent interview.
"This assumption that only seller/doers can be trusted advisors and only seller/doers can build trust is a wrong assumption," he says. "They do have an advantage—a natural advantage—but that advantage actually has limits. And the seller/overseer can blow past those limits and really build high-level strategic trust-filled relationships."
You've had the same few clients for a couple years. They're loyal and like your work. From time to time, you get referral work from them, as well as some one-and-done projects. You've had a steady and secure business, but you know you can do more—and you'd like to bring in more money. It's time to expand your business.
Don't leap into anything just yet, though. You need to first evaluate the situation and create a plan, says Babette Ten Haken in her article Want to Expand Your Business? Do These 5 Things First.
"Before you boldly go into new markets and verticals, assess the robustness of your infrastructure, expand wisely and prudently, and avoid scattering your expansion efforts all over the place," she writes.
Volvo is known for safe vehicles. PricewaterhouseCoopers is known for its auditing services so valued the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences hires the firm every year to tabulate the ballots for the Oscars. Ogilvy & Mather has earned renown for its advertising and PR campaigns.
In the sales and marketing world, Joe Pulizzi has built a reputation as the content marketing guy. Jill Konrath is known for her sales skills. While the name Michael Stelzner causes social media marketing to come to mind.
All of them are known for something specific. And that's what all firms and professionals should strive for, whether you play on the global stage or in your corner of the world. You want to be known for a particular skill or knowledge set so that when people think of that topic, they think of you, says Michael J. Katz in his article Ditch Your Elevator Statement.
Look around you, though. Do your competitors look the same as you? Probably. How, then, do prospects decide who to hire? You might say price, and sometimes they do hire someone based on that. More than likely, however, the deciding factor is the emotional satisfaction buyers feel when they use your service, says David Pearson, author of The 20 Ps of Marketing.
"Companies used to just compete on quality, but quality is now a given," says Pearson in his podcast interview You Can No Longer Compete on Just Quality. Consider "service industries, such as auditing. A basic audit is a commodity. But if that's all it was, then the big four accounting firms wouldn't have become as big as they are. They're obviously providing a lot of added value to just a basic audit service."
It's Girl Scout Cookie time again. My daughter stopped being a Scout a couple years ago, so we are no longer a Cookie source. I don't have to buy another Girl Scout Cookie again if I don't want to. I don't need them, they're more expensive than store-bought cookies, and truth be told only one variety still makes my mouth water (Thin Mints).
But I will be buying them, and I know exactly whom I will be getting them from—my friend's daughter Ashley.
I'm not the only one Girl Scout Cookies have a hold on. Thousands of people each year buy Girl Scout Cookies. It's because of the brand, it's because of their past connection to Girl Scouts (either they or their daughter was a Scout), it's because they know a Scout, it's because they like what Girl Scouts stand for.
As David Newman writes in his article Sell Like a Girl—A Girl Scout, That Is, everyone involved in sales can learn from what Girl Scouts do.
When you look at surveys about the least-trusted professions, inevitably you will see some type of sales profession listed. These days, according to Gallup, lawyers and business executives are also on the list. That doesn't bode well if you are a lawyer or executive who is also involved in generating new business.
Journalists are also on that list, so I know how disheartening it is to be included. That doesn’t mean I am not trustworthy or that you as a lawyer, business executive, or salesperson cannot be trusted. Each person is unique. It does mean, however, that we have to be more sensitive to the people we interact with and perhaps work a little harder to get them to trust us and want to work with us.
For Ago Cluytens, it means investing in the relationship. For him, that includes helping people without expecting anything from them, he writes in his article 5 Must-Have Habits to Make 2014 Your Best Year Yet.
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