Close More in Less Time
Last summer I was working with a brilliantly talented branding agency and I helped them to close more sales during a 6 week period than they closed in the whole of the previous year.
Just take a second to absorb that. Essentially, we hit their entire annual sales target in 6 weeks. In the summer. How is that even possible?
It's possible because that agency - like many, many others I talk to - wasn't closing deals. It's one of the fundamental reasons that I set Blueprint up. Agencies have a completely different dynamic to most other B2B organisations in lots of ways - not least their approach to business development.
Here are some reasons why agencies may not be selling to their full potential:
Agencies don't hire salespeople
This isn't an absolute rule of course - I'm sure there are plenty of agencies out there who hire salespeople - I just haven't met many of them. The agencies I do know are usually handling sales amongst their directors and senior leadership teams, or relying on inbound leads from marketing. This is surprisingly common in agencies all the way up to a £5m turnover and higher. And you know what? I've never met an agency director who came from a sales background.
Sales isn't a priority
We all know it should be - but if you don't schedule sales activity into your calendar and have the discipline to see it through... guess what? Another week and no sales. Especially easy to do when a) you're busy, and b) you don't like doing sales.
Lot's of agencies don't even know what's in their pipeline. There's no process, no structure for managing it and no visibility. Managing pipelines is a real sales skill which took me several years to master. It's about recognising the real opportunities and eliminating the non-starters. It's about understanding values and timescales. Managing a pipeline is a proactive process. Know your opportunities and build a plan to get them over the finish line.
Confusing buying signals with objections
A sale is a two way conversation. Sometimes, it might sound like your buyer is saying 'no' - when in actual fact, they're offering you a problem to solve. In fact, objections offer you a brilliant opportunity to pre-close a sale. For example:
Customer: "I'm afraid I can't buy this"
Seller: "What's stopping you?"
Customer: "I don't like the colour"
Seller: "If I change the colour, will you buy it?"
Ok, this is an overly-simplified example of an objection-handling exchange - but no matter how you scale it, the mechanism works the same. So many times, I see agencies taking a 'no' for an answer. Go beyond the 'no' and find out what you need to do to make it a 'yes'.
No-one asks for the business
I get it - asking directly for something is rude/scary/leaves you open to rejection. It's so necessary though. Not asking for the business is the main reason sales take as long as they do, or don't happen at all. Your customer wants you to close them down. They want to know that you're fighting to work with them. Not asking for the business is like going on a first date with someone you really like and then never calling them. No-one wins.
No-one knows what 'the close' looks like
Surprisingly common - when I ask agencies how they know when a deal is closed, I'm met with blank looks. 'The close' is a tangible point of commitment. A contract. A service agreement. Payment terms. If you don't know where the finish line is, how do you know when you've won the race?
Blueprint runs sales training workshops for agencies. Our new course,
'Close More in Less Time' launches in London in May 2017. Tickets on sale now.