Great scripts, pimped out CRM, a magnetic personality and having a great shiny widget. Ya, those things can help close a deal. But you know what beats them all? “Bumping” into the right person, at the right company, at the right time. Hands down. No contest.
You can stack up your strategies to the moon, but they won’t impact getting the deal as much as “bumping” into the right person at the right time.
Now some might be thinking that if you make more calls, knock on more doors, shake more hands at more networking events that you increase the odds of bumping into people who can write checks for your widgets as a service at exactly the right time. Um…. ahhhh…. No.
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Engaging in more activity… calls, knocks, carrier pigeons… as a strategy for success, is for knuckleheads. Embraced, for example, by those that drink the Kool Aid on commission only gigs only to burn themselves out after months of running around with very very little to show for it. Running around crazy because anyone could be your next client is just plain dumb. But ah, I digress.
YOU ENGINEER THE BUMPS THAT BANG
Bumping into buyers at the best time to close a sale is not a matter of luck, accident or coincidence. Well, actually that is not totally true. I happen to believe that 85% of success is due to your process, your consistent implementation, your skills. The rest is luck, accident or coincidence. When you work with human beings, wacky things happen around the edges. But funny thing, those that work purposely and with a plan and process, seem to have many more profitable fortuitous lucky breaks. Those that don’t work a process, or work purposely may have some lucky breaks, but they are more due to randomness and lottery ticket luck, than the spinoff of a process based upon solid sales and marketing principles.
Bumping into more buyers at exactly the right time is something you engineer. It takes a lot of purposeful planning to generate more of those accidental bumps.
HOW DO YOU GENERATE MORE SALES BUMPS AT THE RIGHT TIME
Step 1: Fish where the fish are. Prospect where the buyers are.
Before you start to worry about the timing, you need to worry about the buyers. Example: If you were going to call, email, door knock (shoot me) or beg a group of 100 suspects, would you prefer to interact with a group that contains 10 buyers or 2 buyers? Your choice, if you decide to make it, is to call the group with the most buyers within it. This assumes that you know the difference. Most don’t know. Many don’t know how to profile the best group to interact with. Many decide not to decide and just start interacting with the list that is most convenient or cheapest. Good luck with that.
Increasing the odds of you bumping into buyers at the best time to make a sale starts with you choosing to work pools of suspects that you know have the greatest percentage of buyers within them. Buyers who will buy in the right amounts, and hopefully again, to make the effort worthwhile.
If you get this step wrong. If you choose not to invest just the few hours it typically takes to profile and identify the pools of suspects that contain 10X more buyers than the rest (I am not exaggerating.) If you choose to skip the profiling process, and make up for it with hundreds of hours slogging through piles of garbage looking for the few nuggets to be found, then your luck will be due more to randomness than purposeful action.
If you want to bump into more buyers at exactly the right time, you start by choosing to allocate the limited time and resources of your team to the groups of suspects that have by far the most buyers within then.
ENGINEER MORE BUMPS WITH BUYERS AT THE RIGHT TIME
So you start by working defined groups that you know have the most buyers within.
But, have you ever had this happen to you? You call a great group, get just the right top decision-maker at a company that you could serve well to pick up the phone. You deliver the perfect pitch only to hear “All set, never going to change, love our vendor, get lost.”
Being the dutiful little lead generator you are, you call back 5 or 6 months later. Same drill, but this time you hear “Oh, too bad, we just signed a million dollar contract with one of your competitors. Wish you had called a month ago.” Happens all the time.
REALITY CHECK: Many that say “no” will buy from a competitor within 6 – 9 months.
If you are appointment setting, you are probably selling something that people don’t buy frequently or they don’t change vendors very often. In fact my rule of thumb is that only 1/6th of a high probability target group is “in play” at any particular time. That means it is far more likely that the decision-maker you speak to is either not in active buying mode, or knows it is likely they will add or change a vendor, but feels it is too early to mention it. So, many times “all set” really means… “too early,” or, “We know we can do better but not ready to do the vendor dance.”
It is critical that you identify as many of these future opportunities as possible.
In fact, I will go so far as to say that identifying future opportunities worth following up on is as important as booking a meeting now.
COMMON APPOINTMENT SETTING B2B SCENARIO
You call, get the right decision-maker to pick up, slay them with a script delivered perfectly filled with credibility, benefits and the goodies they will get at the meeting. You hear “all set.”
But you deliver a response filled with more credibility, benefits and good reasons to meet even though they are “all set.” You hear “nope.”
Now if you just mumble “thanks for your time” or heaven forbid disclose that you are a sales moron unworthy of anytime by asking “Is it alright if I call in a few months to check in again?” you are really missing an opportunity for major gain here. You sweat blood to get that conversation. You know that it is as likely that they buy in 6 or 9 months (and not willing to tell you, if they know,) as it is that they are in active buying mode and willing to meet. To make no attempt at all to determine this is suicidal.
Having just clearly communicated, and reinforced, what you do, how credible you are, the benefits you deliver and what they would get a meeting, now is the time to strike. You have nothing to lose.
Have a strategy and implement a strategy to determine whether they have future plans.
If you want to bump into more of the right people at the right time you must use every opportunity to identify those with future buying plans as early as possible.
My style was to say this after having been shut down on my appointment setting pitch and the objection response. “Not an issue, don’t want to be on your back, but obviously we do a lot of this. Could you suggest a time I should be back in touch?” Then shut up. No extra words, no dribbling on. Be quiet.
MANY DECISION-MAKERS WILL NOW SHOW THEIR CARDS
You will be surprised how many will say “call me in a month.” “Call me end of 2nd quarter.” Now that dead end call suddenly turns into an opportunity with a prime target (you would not have called them otherwise.)
You then end with “Sure, happy to do that. May I ask why that is a good time to call?” They tell you and you say good-bye.
BEING IN THE RIGHT PLACE AT THE RIGHT TIME IS SOMETHING YOU ENGINEER
By your actions and behaviors you can greatly increase the odds of being in the right place at the right time. By adding that little “could you suggest a time” script on the end of go nowhere calls, a good number of people will tell you when to call them back. 50% of those call backs will result in meetings set.
50% OF THOSE THAT OFFER A SPECIFIC TIME FOR A CALLBACK WILL RESULT IN A MEETING
So let’s apply some simple math. If add on “could you suggest a time” to all your seemingly going nowhere calls and 2-3 decision-makers a week gave you a date, that would be 9 – 14 quality callbacks a month. That should earn you 4.5 – 7 meetings. If your closing ratio is 20% you earned an additional closed account per month. No because you “just made more dials.” But because you were calling strategically and with a process and got more from your efforts. Quantity and quality.
A THIRD COMPONENT TO BUMPING INTO MORE BUYERS
This point is counter-intuitive but critical. If you want to increase the odds of bumping into more buyers at exactly the right time, you must make it your mission to identify those that are non-buyers and not worth the effort buyers ASAP. Very simply, the less time you spend on non-buyers, like magic, the more time you end up interacting with quality buyers.
In my calling hey day, I would consciously think “what percentage of my calls are going to higher probability worthwhile prospects?” If you are not proactive at every stage of your prospecting process at identifying and kicking out the non-worthy, then the more no-probability and low-probability calls slip into your call process. That means that the percentage of your time spend on the very worthwhile is plummeting.
So, if you want to bump into more buyers at the right time you must be aggressive and ruthless in throwing the non-qualified down the stairs.
SUMMARY TO BUMP INTO MORE BUYERS AT THE RIGHT TIME
So you engineer your ability to bump into more qualified decision-makers at the right time to close a sale.
The first step is to ignore and laugh out loud at those that believe you bump sales by “just making more calls.” If your company is of the “just make more calls” culture and that is the extent of your sales coaching and guidance, my best advice is to flee that environment or resign yourself to the fact that you will never make any real money.
Once we acknowledge that, three keys to bumping into more buyers.
- Profile and limit your calling to reasonably sized GROUPS of records that you know fit your profile and are most likely to contain the most qualified buyers within. By definition, that also means that you know the profile of the least productive groups of suspects and make sure you stay away from them.
- When you reach a decision-maker and hear “all set,” end that call by asking them if they could suggest a time for you to call back. It is important that you not suggest the date. The date must come from them. You will be surprised how many supposed dead-end calls end up giving you a date. 50% of those turn into meetings. Do the math.
- Actively disqualify records as you call. Want to increase the percentage of the time calling the very worthy? Get very good at identifying and not spending time with the non-worthy. The result is that a much higher percentage of your prospecting time is invested with high-probability suspects and voila, you end up bumping into more buyers at exactly the right time.
Call smart. Not more.