"Don't shoot where it is, son. Shoot where it's going to be."
- Gangster Squad
Many people who own agencies or small businesses are fully conversant with the product or service they offer, which is great and to be expected. The problem is that just as many people think that this is enough, to simply know what it is your company does.
That’s a bit like a comic knowing lots of jokes and thinking this is enough ! Of course it’s great to know your material well, but it’s all about the way you tell em!
There are three key things that people tend to forget...
Make your delivery original
Firstly they forget, like comedy, sales and new business is all about the delivery and the timing. The way you finesse your argument so it is compelling and insightful, engaging and instantly attractive to your prospect is important, but however well-constructed, a badly timed approach will always fall on deaf ears.
You must make your prospect want more, so your opener has to contain a statement that you are pretty sure they haven’t heard before. So, ‘Dear client, we are an agency that has a great strategic team.’ Simply is not going to cut it! Because the statement is so anodyne and samey it could describe any agency, and the word strategy is used so often, it has ceased to mean anything at all!
You may as well say, ‘We have a nice company with a nice team.’ So, be original in your approach… ‘Dear Susan, I bet you’d love to have an affordable tool at your disposal, that ensures your employees are more engaged and on average 20% more productive.’ This is positive, assumptive and outlines unique benefits within the first line. Perfect. She’s hooked!
It's all about timing!
Secondly, time the email or letter just right, so not Monday morning, late Thursday is good, or late Friday or even Saturday morning has been proven to work. For your calls also, make sure you do them at a time you feel the prospect will be less stressed or distracted. So a call or email to the head of HR for a multinational corporation going through a huge lawsuit against hundreds of its employees is likely to be ignored. Do your homework! However telling a good story at the right time is also not enough to really ‘hook’ a prospect.
Provide valuble insights and solutions
The third and vital part, which is where many people fail to operate is related to the tagline of this thought piece. To hit an object that is moving, it is vital to shoot where it is going to be. This is about insight and knowing where your target is headed. Making sure what you have as a product or service will address an issue or challenge, that is coming down the line towards the prospect company.
This requires three vital qualities to be an effective new business or sales approach. Insight, being able to see into a prospects marketplace, identify at least three trends and potential threats to them, at least six months before they happen. Making sure you choose the most relevant and hang your sales argument from this, like the plot or narrative of a good story this is the backbone to your approach.
Provide a brilliant idea or solution that tackles and solves this issue, in a constructive and future-proof way. This is what the person is buying, all well and good to have insight into their market, but offering a clear and brilliant solution is what people pull their cheque books out for.
And finally, as I mentioned before, being able to tie these two together in an brilliant, thought provoking way. Making sure you have all the facts at your disposal, setting the scene by showing your insight into the market and then deploying your idea with skill and finesse.
Once you have manged to do this you will have a prospect who, if they don’t want to work with you immediately, will certainly remember you for the future. The fact is so few sales approaches are conducted in the right way with the effort and skill required to get and keep people’s attention, that a prospect will be refreshed by the uniqueness of your style if you adopt this approach.
So, the next thing you are going to do is draw up a mini ‘hit-list’ of the types of clients you want to work with and then make sure you do the research and take the steps outlined above in order to get and hold their attention. You will then actually have the chance, that golden 45 minutes, to sell to them face to face and hopefully pick up a new account.
David Alexander is MD at new business consultancy Advocate International.