Part 7: “Time Is On My Side”
In Part 6 of this series, we discussed the gaps that can develop between a client’s needs and your solutions. How you handle the “gaps” as a sales professional can truly improve the dynamic between you and your client. Having the courage to address these gaps and be available as a resource is the right thing to do, even if we risk losing the business. This month, in Part 7, we’re examining …
“Time is on my side, yes it is. Time is on my side, yes it is …” – 12×5, 1964
What exactly is “time?” It’s not an object or substance that we can touch or see – but it’s not just a quantity or a concept either. Time represents different things to different people in different circumstances. It can be used as a noun – “time stood still” and also as a verb – “we timed the event.” Most of us believe we have an abundance of it, but also claim to run out of it daily!
However, while technology has actually INCREASED time for customers, it has actually DECREASED time for most of us in sales. Time can be one of our most valuable assets for conducting business – or one of our biggest detriments! Think about it for a minute … before the digital age, when a customer was looking to purchase a product or service, they spoke to someone they knew and asked for a “referral.” They might get one or two names of people or companies, and then they simply picked up the phone and set up a meeting to talk to someone about that product or service. Or, a salesperson just happened to call a company, found out the Owner was interested in their product or service and set up a meeting. Just like that – the sales process began! Timing was critical because in most cases, whoever got to the Owner first, became the trusted advisor and won the business. This was particularly true if the salesperson developed a good rapport early on with the Owner, and educated him on the industry, products, and services.
It usually went something like this: Mick Jagger, CEO of the Rolling Stones, was looking for a company to produce and manage the merchandise for his tour. He called his good friend, Paul McCartney (of The Beatles), to find out who they used. Paul was kind enough to give him the name of the person who handled their merchandise at Lips Merchandise Company. Paul then called Lips Merchandise, got a meeting with one of their reps … and BAM! Lips Merchandise is the new merchandise vendor for The Rolling Stones! Time was not really an issue because we were used to having a lot it. Deals took time because of the process involved – the people part of it – and, as salespeople – we LOVED it! We had time. Time to spend time with these Owners, time to educate, time to wine and dine. Time!
In contrast, today’s Customers are almost 70% through the buying process before they even pick up the phone to call you! They’ve done their research, they’ve narrowed their choices, and in most cases, have chosen their vendor. And, when that phone call comes in, they are ready to buy. So, what can you do as a Salesperson to ensure that you are on the receiving end of those calls?
- Routinely look at your company’s website. Make sure the load times are appropriate on and off WiFi.
- Make sure your company website is optimized for mobile, and that all links (especially the phone number) are working correctly. No one wants to take the time to type in a phone number. They want to press the number and be connected immediately.
- Check all contact forms on your website to understand where leads are being directed. Make sure they are being sent to an active email account that gets monitored on a regular basis.
- Work with Leadership to set clear expectations for responding to emails and phone calls. Publish those response rates and stick to them! (Tip: if your CEO is constantly buried in email, they might not be the right person to get those leads!)
- Make sure you have a digital strategy for lead generation. Utilize white papers, case studies, etc., to help validate the value of your products and services. If you don’t have a marketing team in-house, consider retaining an Outsourced CMO.
The bottom line is that “time,” for salespeople in today’s marketplace, is not what it used to be. Time must be used wisely and proactively to ensure your company’s products or services are one of the top contenders. The five points outlined above are a good start in getting your name at the top of a prospect’s short list.
In my final installment for this blog series, we’ll explore a Rolling Stones mega-hit, “Satisfaction.” Stay tuned for Part 8 …