I consistently see companies unable to get meetings. I consistently see that relationships are the easiest way to get meetings. I consistently see sales people and business owners letting their relationships wither.
There’s a trend for sales teams, especially in tech companies, to be structured as hunters and farmers. Hunters are called SDRs (Sales Development Reps) or BDRs (Business Development Reps) and the farmers are called AEs (Account Executives). A lot of what SDRs and BDRs do is what we used to call “telemarketing” except it involves a lot of email and some smarter tools on the backend. Once they have a lead they pass that lead off to the AE to progress the deal.
There are dozens of CRMs full auto dialers and email sequences that churn out masses of emails and calls to find those “needles in the haystack” that will take a meeting, then analytics and “cadences” to try to close that deal as fast as possible. The human buyer involved is passed down the assembly line from BDR to AE to customer success team and when their contract ends that relationship is most often tossed on the scrapheap.
Spitting out nuggets
Those relationships that are being discarded are gold nuggets.
Most businesses have put a ton of effort and expense in to getting a meeting with those people in the first place and then more to service those people (I know of many cases where it averages over $1,000 to get a meeting with the right contact.)
When the contract ends, the business frequently loses interest and loses touch with that human being. The person’s contact record languishes in the company’s CRM and at best gets an annual holiday card.
If you’re in an industry for the long haul, then this is marketing madness.
It’s much easier and cheaper to stay in touch with someone you know and who knows you than to start from scratch. An occasional email, card, text or call goes a long way. These things don’t cost much and their “conversion rate” is super-high versus cold prospecting.
The catch is there’s no instant satisfaction. (Unless you count liking people and them liking you.)
You will have to play the long game.
You will have to trust that by knowing people in your industry and by building a network in your industry (these people know people, often many in your mutual industry) you will benefit—a lot.
Upgrade your game over time
If you buy into this concept of staying in touch with people, you will likely need to get organized. The key is to remember to do the things that keep relationships alive. You may really want to send that email or card but simply forget in the waves of everyday existence.
You can start simply just by putting some reminders in your calendar of choice. If you you’re your growing out of that approach you may find you need put something together in Excel or Google Sheets could to remind you.
Finally, you may want to look for a dedicated tool in this space. There aren’t too many of them right now but a couple are Nimble CRM and Cloze. I’m also sure some of this functionality could be coded in to Salesforce for the right price.
If you intend to be around for a while in your space, you can make your sales life way easier by having relationships. Keeping relationships alive takes some work but it’s way easier, cheaper, and more fun than cold prospecting. In golf, many people overlook their short game, in sales, many people overlook their long game.
Lisa Leitch says
Thanks for explaining this simply & Effectively. Your right, we need to be nurturing our current clients even more so than new leads to turn this economy around and accelerate sales in the next 6 months
Avik Roy says
Nigel, this article is really on point. The short game in golf rests on the shoulders of the long game.
Likewise, you tee off in business with deep and rich customer relationship and knowledge.
And finish the round with quantitative intelligence and insights to find the sweet spot that maximizes value for both the customer and the seller.