- Posted by Steve Gruber
- On June 23, 2015
- 0 Comments
One of the key areas in B2B selling is understanding that a client’s sales cycle will vary based on the particular client, timing and need. In some cases, the time from lead qualification to close can take weeks to months. In other cases it can take much longer, even 12 to 24 months. It is these longer-term prospects that you need to have a strategy in place to stay in touch with. Your warm, proactive and scheduled touches will improve your close rate.
For one of our clients in the financial solutions market, I had been calling on a large oil and gas company for the better part of 2 years before we got in the door to present. That was after the company told me on the phone, after about 14 months into the process, that they really like our solution and pricing model. This particular prospect represents a six figure sales opportunity annually, with growth potential – so a decent sized piece of business. If I had not been diligent and proactive in my follow-ups on a regular basis, I doubt my client would be in the position they were in. Staying in touch with the prospect through the sales process included a variety of tactics including warm calls and messages, email follow ups on a scheduled basis, adding them to the company e-Newsletter, sponsoring charitable events they ran when available and so forth. The time invested wasn’t immense but rather it was targeted and very specific. My message to them throughout was that we want their business.
For those longer term prospects you have in your funnel, here are some tips for improving B2B sales closing rates for long-term prospects.
Regularly Scheduled Emails and Phone Calls
This is big. Scheduling regular calls or emails to stay in touch is one of the core tactics. Even if you don’t catch your prospect live when calling, leave a short message to let them know you are thinking about them, their business and are planning to continue to stay in touch. Staying top-of-mind in sales and being persistent are two big drivers of closing. The top sales people follow up the most. Use your sales CRM and even your Outlook or Google Calendar to ensure you have the follow-ups scheduled and planned.
Stay up on news items or press releases related to your prospect
One of the first things I always do when following up with a prospect is check out their website and other content feeds to see what has been going on. For some prospects, I will sign up to their automatic news feed service so that when an announcement comes out, I get it right away. In these situations, when a press release, news items or other content piece comes out that is relevant to our conversation, I will email or call the prospect to let them know I read it, am staying up to speed on developments at their end and generally am interested in their business.
Add the Prospect to Your Corporate Newsletter
Whether your newsletter is hard copy or electronic, this is a good way to keep your prospect up to speed on your company and industry happenings that may be relevant to them. Your prospect may not read all of it so don’t quiz them on it, but it does provide another vehicle to stay in touch with them. Also, if there is something of particular interest in your newsletter that would be directly relevant or provide a value add for your client, let them know. It shows you are thinking about them.
As a caveat, another interesting way to provide value during the sales process is to simply share an article via email or through LinkedIn that may be relevant. A prospect of a client had an interest in clean technologies. While on LinkedIn I had seen a posting on a new solar technology that I thought they would be interested in and shared that with them. Not earth shattering, but again, separates you from the rest of the sales people out there.
Invite Them to Connect With You on Social Media Platforms
Leveraging social media is a great and cost effective way to stay in touch. It allows them to see your updates when they happen and you to see theirs. When relevant content is posted, it can easily be shared with your prospect and also allows you to directly engage them when via a different route than email. For some clients, I often have more success catching them through their social media accounts that through their email. The reason, in some cases, is that they get less traffic this way. At the same time, I think it is important to understand how your customers engage with social media.
Participate in Their Charitable Events
When I say participate, I generally mean supplying an item for charitable auction, or a prize that can be won at the event. This can be a low cost way to stay on your prospects radar, allows you to do something nice for others and creates content you can use on your own website and social media platforms.
If you are in need of assistance from a sales and marketing perspective feel free to contact me. I would be happy to see if we can help. Alternatively, if you are simply looking for a source of excellent sales and marketing information, please feel free to sign up for our newsletter or follow us on Twitter.