I was recently reminded of a statistic that 80% of sales are made after the fifth call. According to the Handbook for Marketing Professional Services, 80% of people charged with business development give up after three calls or less.
Given the prevalence of the closer/doer model, it’s easy to identify reasons why most people don’t make it past the third call to a prospect. It’s simple to get past those 80% who drop the ball. Just remember that simple and easy are not the same thing.
Here are my simple tips for rising above the other 80% of closer/doers:
1) It’s not about having time, it’s about making time. Set aside a predetermined amount of time each week to devote to business development calls. Even if you decide on only a half hour a week, if you stick with it, you’ll likely succeed. Even in our busiest, craziest weeks, we can find time to do the things that are important to us. The key is making business development one of those things. Also, unless you are someone who is extraordinarily self-motivated, it helps to have someone to whom you report your business development progress.
2) It’s not about you; it’s about the prospect. I have a sister who is a very successful business developer in the food industry. Early in her career, the broker she worked for identified her as the person he could send to those chefs who would chase all other reps out of the kitchen at knifepoint. She succeeded because whenever a chef got angry, hostile or rude, her response was, “Sounds like you’re having a really bad day? Do you want to talk about it? Would you rather I called another time?” Marti is good at differentiating when someone is just irritated and when they are irritated at her. She always shows that she cares and is a willing outlet for their frustrations. You want to know how well this works? Two years after she left town for another job, chefs were still asking that broker when she was coming back.
3) Business development success is additive. Like all relationships, building trust with potential clients takes time. It requires you to commit to ongoing communication, build trust, and generate opportunity. Estimates say it takes up to three years to fully develop a prospect and an average of 18 months to shepherd an opportunity from first inkling to fruition. In that way it’s like retirement savings. Make continuous deposits over a number of years and invest wisely to yield the best return on investment.