Last Update: February 2, 2015
You’ve sent hundreds of emails, networked your butt off, and cold called like it’s your business … but the phone is nog ringing. Sound familiar?
I think every small business owner, especially service providers, have faced this frustration at least once in their entrepreneurial career. Prospecting with little return is a painful situation to be in. Especially if cash flow is tight and it has been awhile since your last big sale.
If you are a new business owner, it is important to understand that the “waiting game” may not go away anytime soon. However you should not automatically assume your sales process is to blame. Forget the sales myths you have heard — business and customer acquisition is often about timing. Nine times out of 10, the effort and time spent networking, sending sales letters, and cold calling does pay off in the long run. Even if it is two years later.
So what do you do in the meantime?
Understand Sales Cycles and Pricing
Making ends meet between your next big client doesn’t have to be painful. Selling takes time, especially when you are selling yourself and expertise.
So the first thing you need to do is assess your sales cycle – the time it takes to complete a sale – to-date. Keep in mind that “In a retail environment, sales cycles are typically short because people come to the retail store to buy. However, in sales industries in which you have to call on prospects, the cycle can take days, weeks, months or even years.”
Review the time it takes to complete each selling stage — from prospecting, setting an appointment, qualifying the lead, making the presentation, addressing objections, closing the sale to asking for referrals.
Use this timeline as a benchmark to gauge where you can shorten the lead time and close the sale a bit quicker. For example, you can qualify a lead more quickly by refining your lead generation tactics. Also you can address objections earlier in your sales pitch.
Next take a look at your pricing strategy.
If the price of your service doesn’t equate to the energy and effort you spend closing the sale, your pricing model and/or technique is off. Selling a $100 service should not be exhausting. Why only make $100 for all that effort when you could make $1500? Not only does accurate pricing make your sales process worthwhile, it prequalifies clients who have a willingness to pay, will actually pay and truly value your service.