I just had a conversation with one of our clients who is successfully scheduling appointments based on a lead generation email campaign he created after attending one of our virtual training programs. Sounds great, doesn’t it? But there’s a catch. The appointments aren’t producing much in terms of sales.
You might think the problem is that the email campaign is attracting the wrong kind of prospects, but that’s not the case.
I believe the problem is that the client’s sales cycle is too short.
It’s an issue we see with many of our clients. In their haste to close a sale, they try to gather all the information needed to write a proposal in just one meeting. Then they send the proposal and try to close …without much success, I might add.
This “one-and-done” approach is ineffective for a variety of reasons, particularly in high-stakes sales, as is the case with this client who sells IT services.
Think about it. Would you allow a company access to your computer systems after just one conversation? Unlikely! And the same holds true for selling many other solutions.
You need to take time to build rapport with your prospects, to earn their trust. That just doesn’t happen in one conversation.
What typically happens, instead, is this. You…
- Overwhelm the prospect with too much information.
- Take more of his or her time than planned.
- End the meeting with little rapport, or worse, an irritated prospect.
What’s more, when you try to close too quickly, before earning the prospect’s trust, it generally becomes a price game – and that’s a hard one to win consistently. On the flip side, if a prospect trusts you to solve his or her problem, price is often a non-issue.
My advice to this client, and to you, if you’re having a similar problem, is to stretch out the sales cycle by creating reasons for more than one meeting. You might try some or all of these ideas…
- Use two or three meetings to gather background information and understand needs.
- Set up a meeting to review the proposal with the prospect. Don’t just send it. Go through it together in detail.
- Schedule a proposal follow-up meeting to answer any lingering questions, which would be another time to try and close the opportunity.
- Email the prospect between meetings to remain top-of-mind and continue building a relationship. You can simply remind the prospect about your next appointment or you might include an article, customer success story or other useful content related to his or her issue.
It may go against your instincts to slow down, but doing so may actually get you to ROI faster. Not only is it likely to increase your win rate, it may actually speed up the sales cycle because you make it easier for your prospects to say “yes,” when you’ve earned their trust.