B2B Appointment setting tips for long sales cycles

HOW TO SHORT CIRCUIT THE LONG SALES CYCLE BLUES OF COMPLEX OFFERINGS.

If you sell a product or service with a long sales cycle, but you have only been selling a short period of time, what can you do to greatly increase the odds of generating some sales in the short-term?

This morning I received a call from a woman with a common problem. The very typical sales cycle in her industry was 9 – 24 months. Her offering is complex and difficult to condense to a few words. She has been working a year without a sale and starting to feel the pressure. I offered 3 ideas and thought I’d share them with the group.

PROBLEM #1: I HAVE A COMPLEX OFFERING AND IT IS A CHALLENGE TO EXPLAIN IT IN A COUPLE SENTENCES.

RECOMMENDATION: In complex situations where you can’t do justice to the breadth of your offerings with a short statement, try to focus on a common result that many of your targets would like to achieve. In the book (Setting Sales Appointments)  I included a sample fax from a management consulting project from years ago and the headline of that fax was used as part of the “set the appointment” script. Here it is:

“One medical center we assisted found direct cost reductions totaling 1,765,000, improved productivity in some departments as much as 30% and increased patient commendations 50%”.

Now, are you trying to suggest to your target specifically what you might do for them? No. You can’t as what you might do for any specific company varies too much. But, you can increase your chance of gaining access to a top decision maker at a qualified company by absolutely slaying them with the bottom line results you have achieved for others. If you follow the process in the book for guiding questions and resistance into reasons why it makes sense to meet, you will open many doors.

PROBLEM #2. I AM IN A LONG SALES CYCLE BUSINESS, HAVE BEEN SELLING A SHORT PERIOD OF TIME AND WANT TO CLOSE SOMETHING.

There are two things to focus on when you find yourself in this situation.

FIRST RECOMMENDATION: FOCUS ON EFFICIENCY. It is even more important that you be set-up and organized to make the maximum number of calls and HAVE THE MAXIMUM NUMBER OF CONVERSATIONS with decision makers as a result of those calls. Spend just a few hours to set yourself up right and be very focused on being organized and efficient, have the right coding system and call process and you will reach more decision makers, get more meetings and be that much closer to your first sale. No sloppiness allowed. The how-to’s are reviewed in detail in the book.

SECOND RECOMMENDATION: GET MORE INFORMATION UP FRONT AS TO THEIR BUYING INTENTIONS SO THAT YOU CAN PROPERLY ALLOCATE YOUR TIME. You are in charge of your time. Not the people you call. If you don’t have a sale yet you can’t afford to not know that someone might buy in the short run. If you don’t know you cannot decide how to allocate your time and what actions are appropriate. This is a good idea under any circumstances anyway, but absolutely critical when hunting for your first kills. At the end of your set the meeting discussion and the decision maker has agreed to a date and time to meet you, take a deep breath and ask them this. “Mr. Decision Maker, the typical project for our clients ranges from $25,000 to $100,000, if I could satisfy all your conditions and you were totally comfortable, what would you do?” Then don’t say a word. Just listen.

If they say “nothing” because they have no budget, do these things in-house, whatever… you have more information and can allocate your time appropriately.

If they say “Well, we would have budget for this in the 3rd quarter.. I would
arrange for you to meet Mr. X and Ms. Y… or I would want to start immediately… you have more information upon which to advance the sale and decide what is the appropriate action and time allocation. If you don’t ask, you will never know.

The point.. the sales are out there…use slight variations of the winning strategies to solve your particular sales appointment setting challenge.

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