A boss of mine once said ‘Pete it takes you four meetings to bring each sale to a conclusion, so the sooner you get the first meeting the better’.
For this blog I am going to consider higher value clients, perhaps where there is a tender process or panel. In this instance you know that an initial meeting will NOT result in an instant sale. Our clients, some of whom are the largest consultants globally in their field, others UK and regional, put huge store in getting to the prospects way in advance of any tender process. I asked them why? Here are a smattering of responses. In essence get in early to set agenda and ensure you are bonded with EVERYONE on the panel.
70%+ of tenders not won by the incumbent are won by people previously well known to the buyers.
Once you get to the presentation stage, the contestants are within acceptable price bands and the purchase is emotional not logical. Our win/loss surveys disprove the business development team’s normal response of ‘we lost on price’. Losing on price at the final stage is of course nonsense, the deal was lost because the final pitch wasn’t good enough, mainly because the pitch did not relate well enough to the decision making unit.
Prospects are 38 x more likely to open your emails if you have met them at their offices.
Opening emails, accepting your calls, attending your events, taking part in your surveys and your hospitality are all part of your nurturing process. People are far more likely to engage with you and your brand if you have met them.
Trust can be seen as a function of Capability, Integrity and Familiarity
It’s pretty much taken as read that all large law firms, accountants, actuaries etc. are competent. Your value proposition or ‘impact model’ must be a reflection of your understanding of your prospect and become a shared point of view. Allowing this to only happen through your brand and your response to an ITT is naïve.
Part of the Challenger Selling model (CEB) promotes the idea that business development people should not be afraid to share potentially controversial views with their prospects. Responses to controversial views not only help to define what your value proposition should be but importantly demonstrate moral integrity and principles, important when developing trust.
Along with familiarity or bonding, capability and integrity need face time to develop.
58% of communication is visual or body language.
A picture paints a thousand words, a video a million words and a face to face meeting?? This is often interpreted by business development teams as ‘we must meet people to get our point across’, true. However softening the body language of your prospect so you can truly understand their position is of course the vital point here. It takes time (many meetings) for prospective clients to relax enough to show you exactly what they mean.
If they are in your target market, you must get to see people far in advance of any tender process BEFORE there is an agenda to clutter the relationship.