This morning, I participated in a Zoom chat with the senior team from one of our clients… there were five of them on the call. At one point, the CEO mentioned that he was receiving sales calls from this particular West Coast fieldwork firm. And before he could finish his comment, two of his colleagues jumped in with comments of their own.
One of them said, “They call me all the time.”
The other said, “They are ‘relentless!’” [And he didn’t mean that in a good way!]
Then the CEO chimed back in, “The kid calling me was obviously new at this… he was so bad that I almost felt sorry for him.”
Nothing was said about their professionalism, helpfulness, that they shared good information, that they had something new to talk about, etc. Just that they were selling hard and pretty bad at it.
If you work for that West Coast firm, what do you think that sort of sales effort does for the perception of your firm in the marketplace? Do you really think my client (or any firm you’re calling on, for that matter) will ever do business with you in the future? I sincerely doubt it.
Sadly, this is an all-too-frequent story in our industry… and likely exacerbated by the pandemic, when many firms took a big hit and are now scrambling to find revenue.
So, what do these business owners do? Quite simply, they find a list of target companies and contacts, then hand the list to an untrained employee with the directive of “go sell something!” OK, I might be exaggerating… but not by much!
The fix for this sort of scenario is actually pretty simple… but it ain’t easy!
The first – and best – option, if you want to ramp up your sales efforts, is to bring on an experienced sales professional. Someone who understands the ‘process’ of selling, interacting with clients and prospects, and who is really good at dealing with all of the minutiae of selling.
But more than likely, you’ll follow the seller-doer model… selecting someone from inside your own organization and giving them the added responsibility of growing revenue. If you’re going to do that, make sure they’re ready to reach out into the marketplace. And that means some training, which should cover the following areas:
- General market research: methodologies, applications, etc. Depending on their current role, this might an area that you skip.
- General knowledge and trends of the vertical industries you serve.
- Your own firm – key staff, primary processes, how you’re unique, client roster, etc. Again, depending on their current role – and the size of your firm – you might be able to skip this.
- From a sales perspective, how to acquire new clients, with an emphasis on effective communications and the steps in the buying-selling process.
- From a sales perspective, how to maintain and grow existing clients, with an emphasis on building relationships, up-selling and cross-selling.
- Plus, a variety of related topics: reporting, territory & time management, completing proposals, working with marketing, and so on.
Yes, that’s a lot of training and yes, it will take a some time to get through it. But the alternative is – or certainly should be – unacceptable. Sending a seller-doer out into the field (and onto the phone) to sell without the proper knowledge, skills, practice and [don’t forget about] confidence will result in a massive lack of success for that seller-doer and a badly tarnished reputation for your business.
Back to that West Coast firm… I’m sympathetic to needing a quick sale (when times are tough), but because of the way you’re going about it, you’re ruining your reputation and any hope of long-term client relationships because you’re pissing them off in the short-term! Stop what you’re doing… step back… and invest a little time and effort into developing your sales team. You’ll be glad you did.