I have lost more deals than I have won. Many more.
There were times in my early days when I was pitching so many website deals, I would lose track of proposals I had sent out. My process was broken.
I have created and sent over 950 website proposals to date.
Now, when I say that, you might picture in your mind that I just quick fired a bunch of documents in response to contact form inquiries or RFPs (Request for Proposals). But that’s not my style.
I like the hustle.
Each and every one of those 950 proposals consisted of countless phone calls, in person meetings, driving to remote offices, and sitting through more meet and greets than I care to go into. I have sat in the most ornate conference rooms and the smallest kitchens.
With only one objective: sell as many website as I can muster the energy to do.
The Biggest Waste
Along the way I became a student of sales. But no matter how much I learned about selling, I found myself wasting a lot of time.
One of the major problems in my process was how I followed up with prospective clients after each of our interactions. I found that I spent a lot of time chasing people to pin down times we could review requirements, research, demos, or proposals. I would call, leave messages, and follow up with countless emails.
“Great talking to you yesterday, I was wondering if we could arrange a time to review the proposal I have put together?”
“I have left a few messages and am wondering if you all are still interested in that bid I put together for you…”
Nothing is more painful than the simple realization that you are wasting hour upon hour chasing people to just get them to give you the time of day.
The endless chase is emotionally draining (which will also eventually affect you physically).
Remember dating in high school? I do.
Being totally overwhelmed with excitement and anxiety when calling someone you like. Staring at the phone wondering, “Will she pick up?” … “Will she say yes?” … “What if she doesn’t pick up? Do I leave a message?” … “What the hell do I even say on the message?!”
Then you call. Nine rings, no answer. Voicemail.
You leave a message and it sounds as awkward as you feel. A week goes by and you don’t get a call back. “Was it the message?” … “Does she even know who I am?” … “Maybe she’s on vacation…”
Weren’t we talking about sales?
Breaking Those Bad Habits
Most of us learn more about selling from dating in high school than we probably care to admit. But there is one problem with this – we carry over some really poor behaviors.
I learned that you want to remove the emotion as much as possible from selling. You don’t want to constantly be flying high and sinking low every week.
So where are those bad habits when selling a website deal?
Right in these sentences:
“I’ll follow up with you next week!”
“Sounds good, I’ll be in touch soon.”
“Great, I’ll wait to hear from you!”
These sentences, which seem rather harmless, are the culprits of your time being destroyed and your life being reduced to endless phone tag and desperate emails.
I remember once I decided I would start to email my prospects guilt-filled messages when I wouldn’t hear back from them. Here is one from the vault:
“Did I misstep? Surely I did not flip you the bird or call your wife a nasty name…. But it seems you have decided to treat me as such by not returning my phone calls. Let me know what I can do to undo whatever horrible atrocity you think I have done.”
I did finally get a response (feel free to use that line). But those games are meant for high school sweethearts and late night drunk dials.
But no one teaches us differently. For many of us, the endless chase is the only way. I can’t blame you–for I also participated in this drain-game for far too long.
Then I learned a little secret. It changed the rules of the game.
Ask and You Shall Receive
At its core, sales happen over a series of interactions.
How you choose to string these interactions along will define whether you are totally wiped when you leave the office (full of doubt and uncertainty) or if you feel energized (and know exactly when and where you are meeting each of your prospective clients).
Take the guesswork out. Remove the uncertainty.
Sales rule: Never leave a meeting without a commitment for your next scheduled interaction.
No matter where you are in your sales process – the first meeting, the proposal, the presentation – all of those interactions should be scheduled from the previous interaction. Never under any circumstance will you ever again leave a meeting with your last words being “I’ll get back to you soon.”
NEVER WILL I EVER!
There are two life-changing benefits to this simple, simple rule.
1. You will never chase again. Sometimes I even say in my initial meeting with a customer, “I always schedule our time in this meeting for our next meeting. I do this to respect your time and to establish a level of trust that we are professionals that respect each other, is that okay?” Clients get turned on by this. They don’t meet professionals that talk like this.
2. You will get rid of tire kickers. When people don’t want to schedule another meeting with you–even if it is two months out–they aren’t serious buyers. This simple strategy separates out the non-serious buyers like rocks through a sieve.
Write it on day planner. Scratch that. Etch it onto your desk. Get it tattooed on your wrist. Whatever it takes to commit to your practice. I promise it will help you close more deals and allow you to spend less time worrying about whether she’ll your prospect will call you back.
About the Author:
I’m currently CEO of uGurus, a knowledge-hub to help web professionals become more profitable. For the last sixteen years I have dedicated myself to selling websites and online marketing solutions. You can follow me on twitter @brentweaver or connect with me on LinkedIn.