I find most b2b sales are only focused upon the immediate sale opportunity coming their way. Is this the way you look at sales opportunities?
The best sales people – including the b2b sales superstars – have a longer time horizon. They look at the next sale as the first step in a series of sales opportunities.
In fact, I have a friend who is always telling me how he looks at every customer with a three year INITIAL time line in mind. If the customer appears to be a one sale only – he passes on the opportunity. Could you do that?
What factors are in play to cause you to want to look into the future when evaluating a potential sales opportunities? Let’s take a look at what I’ve learned…
- Accounts Rather than a Sale
In b2b sales and particularly large or major account selling, you want to gain accounts rather than make a one time sale. Longer term contracts and relationships can be highly rewarding both for you and your customer. The longer you work with a customer, the more you know about the customer.
- More Profitable
Realistically, you will have greater profits when you keep selling to existing accounts. Think about it. Existing business does not require going after new business each day with all the associated acquisition expenses offsetting your profits. The sales guru’s estimate existing business is 16X more profitable.
- Can Easily Grow What You Know
As you implement your first sale and work with the functional groups over time, you develop a network of contacts within the customer organization. These people become your eyes and ears for new opportunities. Create and nurture your contacts to be your personal early warning system for both competitor moves and new issues or problems you can eliminate or control for your customer.
- Prove Effectiveness with ROI Data
This one is probably the most important thing you can do for long term account building. When you can show proof of a high ROI – you will have a long term customer. Even during the recession, several of my clients and associates who used the ROI measurements prior to the recession – continued to get business while other companies were losing the contracts. When we discussed this technique I was told how the decision makers considered doing business with proven success contributors as a “no-brainer” decision. Take time to track measurements and metrics to show your success. Then schedule a review of the data with the key decision makers so they will understand the value you create.
- Think Small to Go Big
Sometimes it is necessary to take an first approach of just into the account with a small project. Getting into the account gives you the opportunity to do several of the strategies listed above to get to the bigger contracts. Again, taking a longer time horizon allows you to start small and expand as you prove your performance.
Take a look at your business and see if you can successfully use the longer time horizon in your sales efforts. The benefits can be huge. I have seen the impact of sales revenue and steady sales growth come from using this simple b2b sales strategy.