I have a tendency to want to work with everyone I talk to! It's funny when I hear myself say that because I'm not necessarily an extrovert.
I'm not out there talking to everyone. Once I do learn a little about someone, I generally like them. Oddly enough, this has been one of the more difficult hurdles for me to overcome as a salesperson.
Stay with me on this.
The importance of time management in inbound sales
At this point in B2B sales
, we're way beyond the old "the customer is always right" adage. Time management skills in sales is not only necessary, performance and efficiency should be monitored, adjusted, and groomed.
Today, we have partners, not clients. As salespeople, we provide valuable services or products that will help our partners achieve their business objectives.
I have my set of parameters to determine whether or not this client will work for my company, and my potential client is deciding whether or not what I have fits with them.
Even though it seems pretty straightforward, this part is still challenging because that old school sales guy still lives somewhere in the back of my brain, is always saying, "We have to get these guys. No matter what it takes. So, ignore ALL of those red flags, focus on them and let's close this thing!"
That may sound good and all. Here's the catch: when you let those red flags pass you by, you're going to have poor client relationships.
You'll either get the business, and it will blow up in your face, or, more likely, you will waste precious minutes/hours/days/weeks/months of your time chasing after this deal that will likely never happen. I've seen this so many times.
This is one of the many reasons time management for salespersons is so important to inbound sales. Not only does good time management nurture potential relationships, it can help to move down pipeline stale leads and even aid in building confidence in your brand, your products, and your partnerships.
If you look closely enough at those accounts in the pipeline, you will notice that they have been sitting there at 50% for who knows how long. "But, they're just waiting until XYZ!" Or, "Once XYZ happens, they're in!" That's what I always used to think, but the reality of the situation is that they're not going to do it.
So, to avoid those issues, here are three rules I try to keep in mind as I sit down to do my prospecting:
Understand the intent of your prospects with content
This is where inbound marketing comes in and is one of the best services we offer at Watermark. Inbound leads aren't just another stream of warm leads to back up your current prospecting initiatives. Inbound marketing does much more.
Time management in B2B sales is aided by inbound tactics as many of them can be automated, providing an instant boost to productivity. Inbound marketing helps capture the exact information you need to further move the lead down the sales pipeline and can help the prospect in choosing if they're interested.
For example, as a part of a content marketing campaign,
consider four to five qualifying criteria of your target B2B persona. These could be the company's size, company goals, history with using your service/product, etc. Route these answered questions and identified pain points right into your content.
At this point we know the intent of each visitor of the content, so it's time to set-up a lead capture CTA or put the content behind a wall.
This is a form of "Gated Content," - and it works.
When you collect contacts this way, and when you do start outreach, the discovery goes much smoother. Given you already know the intent and some of the pain points that resonate, you look even more pro than you are already.
Want to learn more about content marketing tactics from an inbound professional?
Be strategic in that first conversation, not just polite
When you're on that first call or in-person meeting, make sure to dig more deeply. If you find out that they love to fly fish, then chat about fly fishing for a bit, but don't spend the next hour comparing each other's favorite stretch of water around the world! Concentrate, stay on task, and stay professional.
Control the call and get the information you need. The truth is this professional demeanor and discipline is what builds a strong personal and professional relationship. Also, give the information they need to make the best possible decision on whether or not your companies should continue this process.
Start with a small project to test the waters
At Watermark, almost all of our active, long-term clients started with a small, one-off project. Think of this as a paid audition. Maybe it's a small order of your product or a one-month term of your service.
For us, it's usually a small update or change to a website, like creating a carbon copy of their current site but moving it from an outdated CMS
to a new one. Either way, during this lower impact relationship, you get to know each other personally and professionally. Both parties can decide whether a long-term commitment would be a good idea.
I want to be clear that "Palling Around" is not a bad thing. This is always a touchy subject because I don't want to give the impression that you should treat your clients like you're the assistant principal. Manage your time professionally and don't force a sale, plain and simple. I've found that the three rules above help me quite often. I would love to hear what works for you!
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