I hope you’re reading this somewhere warm! There’s definitely a wintry feel to the air now in the UK, and there have been some frosty mornings.
Another sign of the time of year – the “big brands” have started running their Christmas ad campaigns! Love them or loathe them, you’ve got to hand it to the marketers who have to come up with ideas that are memorable and different but at the same time embrace everything familiar about a very “traditional” season.
One common theme in these ads over the years has been the characters going on some sort of journey. That’s understandable, as there’s often a lot of travel going on at this time of the year, either for work or for pleasure – well, if you can call Christmas shopping a pleasure!
I’m no exception to this, and last week I told you about a journey I made to see 6 university friends. This week I’ve been on the road for business as well, including a fantastic event in Exeter where I launched a new service I am launching for 2020! Get Sales Fit is going to be a big focus for me in 2020.
More time on the road gave me plenty more thinking time, and it reminded me that we and our prospects are also on a journey, and as salespeople, we have the opportunity to guide them on it – hopefully to the right destination!
Those who are regular readers will know that one of the biggest errors I find salespeople making is trying to reach that destination – the client’s destination – way too soon in the journey. It’s like thinking that you can drive from London to Glasgow in 40 minutes – with a 10-minute comfort break on the way!
But just like with real-world travel, nothing in B2B happens immediately. That’s because you need to take your prospect (and possibly their company) on a journey with you first.
I’ve built a model for this, and it has 7 steps – I call it CONVERT. Let’s have a look at the journey you need to guide your prospects to follow to give you the best chance of success.
This is your shop window. It’s your version of one of those great Christmas ads. And it’s the start of the journey for most prospects. You need to show how you will add value to their business, how you will solve their problems, and how you will build a relationship, not “hit and run”.
Great content will reinforce all these positives. Brochures, website, video content, blogs, podcasts, LinkedIn articles… All of these should make it easy for prospects to feel they want to start their journey with you.
You’ve got great content, you’ve made great preparations. Everything is ready to show prospects that you’re the person they need to be talking to. But hang on… where are those prospects coming from?
You need to be obtaining leads. If you’re selling your own product or service then you need “lead magnets” to capture names, emails and phone numbers. Great content is amazing, but if that content isn’t capturing information, then it’s been rather wasted! Putting together successful lead magnets is both a science and an art, and something that’s too involved for this email, but if you want help on designing and building them, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If I could make this one have an even bigger capital letter, I would. This is the key part of the whole process. This is where you turn a lead into a qualified lead and then into a strong prospect.
This is where you build up your own value proposition. You need to feed them more information – not quantity here, but quality. Information that’s relevant to the lead, new ideas, interesting concepts.
Ok, you get a “two for one” here. Although they are separate processes, in reality, you’ll be doing both of them at the same time. Rarely, it’s possible to separate them, but for most of us, we validate by engaging.
Most people talk about “qualifying” leads. But to me, that’s too mechanical. Most people see this as about “nuts and bolts” like the company’s financials, budget, or if they have an immediate need or problem. That’s really short-sighted, and completely misses out the Engagement side of things that can really bear fruit further down the line.
We should be engaging from the very first contact. We do this by building rapport, then asking questions about the lead and what they are looking to do. As well as validating that their problems are ones we can help with and that they are able to buy we should be taking this opportunity to show why it’s us they should be working with, and not a competitor.
An often forgotten step, this one can make the difference in sealing the deal now or later. When your prospect is ready to make a decision you need to remind them of the journey you’ve taken together, and how this reaffirms that you and your service is the right choice. You can do this because you know what’s key to the prospect and because you have taken the time to build trust and belief. You took the time to listen, understand, and build a solution.
In other words, you didn’t rush the journey – that’s what gives you the edge in understanding this prospect better than others.
Get the business done. Sounds ridiculously obvious, but you’d be amazed at the number of salespeople who really miss the target and fail to ask for the business at the right time! If you have doubts yourself, how do you think you are going to be able to convince the prospect?!
So I hope these steps are easy to follow, and if you use this formula consistently you will close business more often than not.
Which of them do you find the most difficult? Do you have any good practice to share that you’ve found to be really effective? What are the blockers you’ve found that stop you from following them?
If you feel you need help with building lead magnets or in improving your closing skills do get in touch. I also love to hear your experiences and your ideas for subjects for these emails and videos on the YouTube channel. If you’d like to get in touch you can drop me a line to email@example.com or you can find me via the usual social networks – Twitter, LinkedIn, Youtube, Facebook – just search for “jameswhitesales”.
Right, I’m looking forward to going to the cinema tonight with my lovely wife – it’s been a while since we’ve had the opportunity to do that, and I’m really looking forward to it!
I hope you too have a great weekend, and here’s to a successful business week ahead.