Managing the minutiae
I thought it time to write something about more than just finding good sales leads. After all, its what happens after the initial meeting or presentation that really makes the difference to the success of a company.
With growing technology and digital media businesses (and some larger companies) there is often a recurring issue post initial client meeting. First meeting done, follow up email or proposal sent – sit back and wait for the order…. Sound familiar? Well perhaps that’s an exaggeration but its certainly the case that companies are not doing all that they can and should to move the sales cycle along and progress their opportunities.
But what can you do if you’ve seen the decision maker, submitted a proposal and been told to ‘wait to hear back’? Lots actually.
Consider that selling is not a linear process. In fact, picture each opportunity as a sort of Venn diagram attached to multiple satellite nodes – that would be a more accurate representation of how a sales actually looks when you consider the perspective of all those involved. Put your main contact in the middle of the diagram and start to consider who the other major players are in the decision making process:
- CFO of Financial Director/Manager
- Operations Director/Manager
- Technical Director/Manager
- Creative Director/Manager
The next task is to map out each of these contacts and with the help of your prime contact establish who has a say in the decision (relating to your sale) and what influence they have. Once done its time to think about how you will start to build a relationship with these people to begin the process of educating them about your offering and how it will impact them personally/their department.
Of course, invariably you’ll require the permission of your prime contact to start selling to other people, however even if they say ‘all communication must come through me’ there are ways in which you can start building your information to hit the right notes with the extended organisation.
Let’s assume you’ve submitted a ‘creative’ proposal: You should also consider:
- What’s the top line business case of what you are selling? How would you justify it to a CEO? Have you engaged your MD or CEO at the same level? If not do it, now.
- What are the financial implications of your pitch? What is the return on investment? How is the client budget constructed and how flexible are your terms? Remember that a CFO won’t care much for the creative stuff, but he/she will want to know the justification for the venture and how it pays back.
- What are the implementation/installation/delivery implications? The operational contact at the client will want to have complete confidence in your systems and process. Make sure they have this through references, visits to your offices etc. Again, plug in your equivalent contact and ensure they make a peer to peer connection
- How does the purchasing system work? What hoops do you need to jump through? Don’t make an enemy of the procurement contact – in fact get them onside by providing all that you need to proactively
I have a saying that there are at least 100 separate things to do in every sale before you close it. You’ll never know which individual point helped sway it in your favour so you better get on and do them all. Manage the minutiae and the bigger picture will look after itself