Over the last 10 years or so, a significant proportion of the blogs that have been published on the Alchemis website have been tips and advice on the fundamentals of winning new business. If we break it down into three basic elements of that process it would broadly be:
- How to set meetings with marketing decision makers
- What to do when you are in that meeting
- How to follow up after the meeting so that you actually win them as a client.
I’m fairly unique within Alchemis in that I’m pretty much the only person who is not directly involved in selling… whether that’s selling the services of Alchemis itself or working on business development campaigns on behalf of our clients.
On the flipside of that, the vast majority of the buying decisions are channeled through me and that’s a lot of dosh up for grabs over the years. I receive hundreds of calls each month from all sorts of companies trying to sell me their products or services or trying to persuade me to agree to a meeting with them. Nearly all of them are rebuffed pretty quickly. But what about the tiny fraction who succeed? What did they do differently?
To understand this you’ll have to take a glimpse into my psyche.
Amanda, our MD, runs coaching sessions for both our clients and staff which look at ways of improving your sales success using means such as Behavioural Analysis, among other things.
There are four basic styles of behaviour and these are determined by the way in which people relate to one another:
Whilst most people will display some sort of crossover in traits between these four styles, being aware of the type of person you are dealing with will allow you to adapt your approach for the best chance of success.
Apparently, I mostly fall within the Analytical category. That is not the easiest type of person to sell to and some of the trickier elements you are going to encounter when approaching me are:
- Motivated by logic and facts
- Not quick to make decisions
- Distrusts persuasive people
- Likes things in writing and detail
- Security conscious
- Critical, aloof, sceptical
- Likes rigid timetables
Putting that into context with the 3 points at the start of this blog, here are a few suggestions that might just get me to say “yes”.
This is probably the trickiest bit. I’m bombarded with calls every day that I don’t have time to take. If you get through, you need to make it count. A little bit of understanding into what we actually do as a company might be useful before you make the call. On top of that, get straight to the point. How will whatever it is you are offering directly benefit us? For example, if it is through significant cost saving, make sure you can back this claim up with real figures. If it is improved technology, make sure you can demonstrate the relevance/necessity to our specific circumstances. If you claim you have an offer and it needs a decision “now” you’re going to be disappointed as I like to carefully check things out before making a decision. Patience is a virtue when selling to me so be prepared to play the long game.
In the meeting
If I took time out of my busy day to meet you, then there must be a very good reason for this. Whoever booked it (remember, the attendee may not be the same person as the initial caller) had given me one or more compelling reasons to meet. I’ll be expecting any claims that were made during that phone call to be backed up with hard evidence. I’ll also be expecting the meeting to start at the scheduled time – so don’t turn up early or late and keep the duration within the allotted time booked.
Once everything has been wrapped up, don’t be under any illusion that I will buy at that point. I’ll be asking for references or maybe researching a few other providers offering a similar product if I think it is something we need, just so that I’m happy with my own due diligence. Saying that, I’m a believer that “people buy from people”, so good chemistry will definitely work in your favour. Most importantly I will need to be convinced that you will give me a higher level of ongoing customer service than your competitors for any significant purchases. For something that is essential to our business, my confidence in the Service Level Agreement will trump a cheaper price every time.
After the meeting
Keep in touch! Sounds obvious, but I can think of quite a few occasions where I’ve had decent meetings and been impressed enough with the product/service but then the company has either never followed up, or followed up over a year later. One that springs to mind was for a telecom system running into tens of thousands of pounds. Maybe the contact that met me left, or maybe there was another reason, but as a company you need a procedure to make sure your hot leads don’t fall through the cracks.
Be patient – relating to the point above. Don’t bombard me every day, but if it was a productive meeting and I agreed your product would benefit us, make sure you maintain some sort of contact fairly regularly. As stated earlier, I’m usually more of a slow burn when it comes to conversion. But with that, I do tend to have a long-term loyalty to those suppliers once signed up, providing the service is consistently good.
Don’t expect me to put all my eggs in one basket straight away. I want to establish enough trust in your ability to deliver a good service before I commit to a long term relationship with you and the resulting bigger budgets that will bring. But from small acorns…
Of course, not everyone will be putting the same kind of obstacles in your way when it comes to new business meetings. Different people have different drivers and you will face different barriers. You can read about cognitive biases and how understanding them could potentially help you in the sales process here.
And if you want to liken some of these personality traits to various creatures in the marketing world, you might find this an interesting read. I reckon I’m half rhino by the way…