Timing, Timing, Timing
Jason Rager - Manager of Strategy & Growth
I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “location, location, location,” but I’d like to take a look at the sales equivalent of “timing, timing, timing.”
As a salesperson, my favorite thing to hear on the phone is “great timing.” When I hear that, I know I’m at least in the door.
Aside from a nice, warm referral, I think “timing” has been the second biggest variable to close new business. With that said, I believe “timing” is probably the most significant driver of proactively developed new opportunities.
So the question is: How do we, as salespeople, make sure we consistently have good timing?
I think the answer is threefold:
1) Consistent, valuable communication with strategically selected prospect
2) Educational and useful marketing content to support the value propositions or business case for your solution
3) Understanding the industry you’re selling to and refining your message to the changing landscape in the marketplace
Consistent, valuable communication with strategically selected prospects
This one probably sounds easy at first glance, but a lot goes into building the structure for this communication –not to mention building the list of strategically selected prospects!
There are several elements that we pull together for our campaigns here at COACT to make this a predictable, repeatable, and proactive approach to the market.
The first piece is building out the Ideal Client Profile. If you don’t understand what your best clients look like, it’s going to be extremely difficult to identify your “strategically selected prospects.”
Skipping all the details of building the list, let’s move on to the next major area required to fulfill this step: developing the best rhythm for contacting your target market.
This largely depends on the length of your customers’ buying cycles and how frequently the industry is changing. If your market has a long buying cycle, it could be realistic to only communicate with them a couple of times per year once the relationship and brand recognition are developed.
However, if you’re operating in a market that makes repeatable purchases on a consistent basis, it is likely that you’ll want to be in touch at least quarterly or maybe even monthly.
Of course, it is extremely important to take into account the person and the relationship with that person to understand what the right rhythm looks like.
I would also recommend making sure you never call “just to follow up,” which leads us into the last piece of this section: ensuring that the communication is valuable.
If you’re calling “just to follow up,” chances are, your prospect will learn the rhythm of having polite short conversations with you every time you call and then moving on with their day.
However, if you call asking how your prospect is dealing with problem X that you’ve been solving lately for your customers, your prospect will learn to view you as an industry leader that has a great understanding of the needs of their business.
Educational and useful marketing content to support the value propositions or business case for your solution
Here at COACT, we’re firm believers in mixed media messaging. We love to send introduction letters, postcards, and emails and utilize social media like Linkedin as well. It’s extremely important within these touch points that our content is relevant to our market and helps to drive home the value propositions or business case we’re trying to build within our target market.
Content development is an ongoing process to stay on top of changing trends within the industry, highlight the enhancements to products/services offered, and solve problems that our customers and prospects are facing.
One of the largest benefits of this is that it helps to drive the relationship with relatively little “effort” per the prospect’s impression. As sales professionals know, it takes eight or more interactions with a new prospect to be able to develop a relationship and a level of trust required to gain a commitment. This is very difficult to do successfully without marketing touch points being a piece of this.
Understanding the industry you’re selling to and refining your message to the changing landscape in the marketplace
This piece of solving the “timing” problem in sales sounds daunting, but the key here is listening to your market. If you’re paying attention to your market and understanding their goals and initiatives, as well as their problems and pain points, you should be able to continuously enhance your messaging to your market.
One of the best ways to listen to your overall market is to engage in primary forms of research, e.g., having conversations on trends, what’s happening, how the market is reacting, and what do they foresee.
This also helps to develop shared goals with your marketplace; in short, a certain level of interdependence can be developed by developing a shared vision of the overall marketplace.
To boil it all down to something simple: appropriately consistent, quality interactions with your marketplace helps to eliminate the timing variable throughout the overall sales process.
Questions or comments? Please contact Jason Rager at jrager@teamCOACT.com.
*Note: This article was originally published in April 2016 and has been updated and revised for relevance.