You might recall the adage that the fastest way to get business is to grasp the low-hanging fruit. Put traditional sales wisdom aside, low hanging fruit is not all that it is cracked up to be.
Ever heard something like this:
“Qualify your prospects. Make sure that they have the budget for your product or service. Without this you will be both wasting their time and yours. Time is precious, move on if they do not have the money set aside ready to buy.”
Heard this before? Heard the idea that grasping the low-hanging fruit is the surest way to sign more business? Look for the “ready now” buyers and ignore the rest – this is the key to success.
I am sorry but I must disagree with this.
If this is how you are going to conduct business you will be missing out on numbers of potential sales that will drift away from you without you knowing.
Why do I disagree?
Primarily because selling this way you will be continually battling your competitors, pricing will become paramount and you will always be looking over your shoulder wondering who is going to blow you out of the water.
You will have minimal ability to influence your buyer’s decisions – even if your offering is actually better or will have a bigger impact on your potential customer’s business.
To be really successful, it is very important that you find opportunities that are ripe with potential, but not yet in existence. In short you need to create opportunities by your own business and sales knowledge.
Discovering the Secret to Hidden Sales Potential
A while after beginning my own company, I won a contract to design and deliver a customised sales training program to a major law company. Since I was not familiar with the way law firms sold anything part of my project involved several in-depth interview with their top “rainmakers”.
Now please note that I did not use the term “sales” here. In law firms key “sales” people are known as “rainmakers”. The word “sales” was to these people almost a four letter and an undesirable term.
What I noted was that all the so-called top “rainmakers” were all senior members of the firm. What I kept on hearing from these people, nearly all older and grey haired men, were the keys to successful sales: returning phone calls promptly, giving good customer service, building strong relationships, entertaining clients with golfing and fishing trips, and a good one, having law school friends in positions of power.
While all these things may be true, I wasn’t really satisfied that these were really the keys to successful sales in a law firm. Surely there was something more than being grey haired and having friends in places of power. I was not willing to accept that these were really the keys to success.
So I maintained my search, looking for something that could be taught to younger lawyers. There had to be something more to sales in a law-firm than these things.
Finally, on my last interview with a slightly younger lawyer, I hit on something. It was James, who alerted me to a strategy that he used to generate more business and to win jobs that did not actually exist until he made them so. I hit upon a strategy that could be taught to younger lawyers.
At last – I had found a strategy that any reasonably intelligent person could use to create sales opportunities.
Now notice what I said there – to create sales opportunities. Better yet, this strategy actually prevented competition. By using it, decision makers had minimal desire to look for alternatives. They wanted to work with you – and get started now!
Creating Business from Thin Air
How was James creating business from thin air?
The first thing James was doing was to keep up-to-date on what was happening in the news, what was happening in similar companies to his client base. When he read about a recent judgement on an intellectual property issue, he started thinking about how it might impact his clients or prospects.
When he learned that a product liability case had been settled, he assessed its potential ramifications on his own client base. He would examine carefully each of their positions and likely work that may need to be done to cover his clients on similar issues.
After a little work, he would then draw up a list of potential clients to talk to about these issues. He would then call his primary contact in each of these potential clients and say something like this:
“John. I’m not sure if you’re familiar with the BIG DEAL case that was just settled in Western Australia. It was an intellectual property issue related to part-time workers. Now I was just thinking about your policies in this area. Based on the court decision your company may well be at risk. We should get together on this issue and make sure your are not at risk. It would be better to be safe and sure than to be sorry at a later time.”
This strategy worked. Yes, it worked nearly every time. There were no competitors on the radar at all because what James did was to bring up a point that was not even on his client’s radar, and so no competitor was even aware that a job was being created. James had discovered the key to creating sales where none existed – triggering events.
Basically what happened was that the client company would assess this new task and see the light as to why it should be attended to. Suddenly, overnight, funding became available reallocated from another budget to this new priority.
I don’t think I am an Einstein, but I am smart enough to know when I see a new strategy that is worth something. Yes, I had found a business building strategy worth teaching to younger lawyers.
Sales Generating Triggers
By using sales-generating triggers, I could stop my never ending search for clients and start to generate new sales for current clients based on trigger events.
After a thorough review of my customer base, I discovered these triggering events were fertile ground for generating more sales. Once I knew my triggering events, my business took off. Once you know your trigger events, the same thing can happen to you.