Long sales cycles for media sales people can be a drag on any business. But there are plenty of ways to shorten the advertising sales cycle while building trust and relevance in your budding business relationship.
This might sound familiar:
You receive a positive response from a prospect after a solid pitch. She says, “I’m really interested in your [name of amazing product here] and think we’re a great fit.” You think, “Nailed it!” Then she says, “OK, so all I have to do is speak to [name of seven other company decision-makers] and I’ll follow up with you afterward. Sound good?” You say, “Looking forward to it.” You think, “[your preferred expletive here].”
Fortunately, this situation doesn’t have to be so curse worthy.
Here are three ways to keep your sales cycle and relationship moving:
Spell it out
When businesses have multiple decision-makers to impress, it's unlikely your contact will want or have the time to make your pitch multiple times — so make it for them. Provide your prospects with a written, comprehensive overview of your proposal. Proposals should not merely be spreadsheets with line items or a bare-bones document of your suggestions. The best part is you can include all those genius afterthoughts you had after you hung up the phone.
Also, having a document like this is helpful if your contact unexpectedly leaves the company. The situation just happened to me, and I was pleased to have all my pitch information on hand in order to move things along.
Bottom line: The less prospects have to repeat or explain a proposal internally, the quicker you can close.
Continue making connections
So you haven’t heard from this contact you’ve been emailing back and forth with for a while now, and it’s starting to look like this thing is going nowhere. How can you remind him you still exist without looking like that pain-in-the-ass salesperson?
Reach out to him with content relevant to his company. Maybe you saw a great article about his industry, saw that his company got some press in a trade pub or there’s some breaking news on the company blog. Let him know you saw it. Salespeople should constantly be reading about their industry anyway, so it’s not a lot of work to remind a prospect that you're thinking of him. Not only will it bring your name back to the top of his inbox, but you’ll also come off as the in-the-know salesperson you are. Should you do this every day? No, no you should not.
If your contact is social media-savvy, sending him a tweet with a link to relevant content is a quicker — and cooler — way to give your prospect a polite reminder that you have a pending deal.
Bottom line: By sharing relevant content with a prospect, he will be reminded of your business and probably consider you to be a knowledgeable and thoughtful salesperson.
Just kidding! (Sort of.) It is, of course, incredibly important to keep an even keel while contacting prospects. I usually reach out every two to three days, unless I'm told otherwise. If someone tells me to touch base in a week, I oblige. Getting a timeline at the beginning can help your outreach rhythm, but most of the time, let’s face it, things come up and timelines can be hard to stick to.
Eventually you may hit a wall with the standard avenues of communication — I certainly have. This is a good time to check out the company’s website to see what conferences, meet-ups, seminars, etc., they’ll be attending in the near future. The opportunity to be face to face with your prospect or another company representative will be worth admission alone.
Bottom line: A casual meeting at a conference can jumpstart a lagging sales cycle.
These are three strategies that have worked for me in the past, but I’d like to know how my fellow salespeople deal with this common occurrence. Please share your wisdom in the comment section below.