If They'll Meet With You, They'll Hire You
Sales starts with getting the meeting. After that, it's easy.
The component of new client acquisition that stresses out many business owners more than anything else is the sales component.
I’m contrarian: I believe that the sales is actually the easiest part.
If you’re a professional solution provider, the consultative nature of selling is likely already ingrained into your brain. Despite that, putting on a “salesperson” hat might make you cringe.
I'd like to share two realities of sales as a professional problem solver, however. Both of these realities completely take away the two biggest stressors of the sales component.
Unlike many other sales professions (yes, you’re ultimately in the sales profession, no matter what business you’re actually in), if you’re a professional service provider, there really isn't a whole lot of sales resistance once we're actually face to face with a prospect. In fact, most other sales professionals would be envious of the position we're in.
No matter what business you think you’re in, you’re really in the business of marketing and selling your products or services.
By the very nature of what you do, your closing ratio is unusually high. While many sales professionals in numerous industries — such as advertising media, household goods, industrial equipment, and the like — are excited to close 1 in 20 prospects, such a closing rate would be abysmal for an accountant, attorney, financial planner, SaaS provider, etc. While 100% isn't to be expected, high double digit closing percentages certainly are.
Basically, here's how I sum up the "sales" side of being a genuine solution provider: If they'll meet with you, they'll hire you.
With your marketing, your establish yourself as an expert in your field, and position yourself on the "right side of the desk" in the eyes of our prospects. By the time they actually come in for a consultation (which is really a sales presentation), they're essentially already sold, otherwise they wouldn't have met with you in the first place.
Again, not every person that meets with you is actually going to purchase your product or service. But, with proper long-term follow up via a regular touch program, it's possible to get pretty close to 100%. A 20% to 50% closing rate on the first appointment is quite common.
I have had clients that hire me on the first meeting. When I was running my boutique tax firm, it was not uncommon for me to conduct a first time consultation with a new prospect over the telephone in the morning morning, and a few hours later have signed paperwork in hand and a check in the mail. However, I had other clients that I had to keep in touch with for more than a year before they ever hired me. My personal record was having a new client hire me for representation services a full 28 months after the initial consultation.
In enterprise SaaS sales, the sales cycle tends to be a lot longer. There are more moving pieces to such a sale, more people on the customer’s side that are involved in making the decision. But assuming that you’ve met with all the real decision makers, which should always be the goal of your prospecting process, then the same adage applies: If they’ll meet with you, they’ll purchase your software.
Most of the job of selling yourself is done via your educational marketing, both before and after a consultation. The consultation isn't really a sales interaction for us, so much as it is a closing interaction. With the right positioning in this manner, closing a prospect becomes vastly easier.
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