Follow up = Sales
Sales happen in the follow up.
For the long tail sales cycle for Marketing firms, follow up requires a sales process.
This article is to help you learn the mapping strategy in your sales process.
What 12 dominos do you need to strategically line up so more sales happen with less effort?
Imagine flicking one domino and 12 dominos fall…
Let’s discuss the strategy of your agency first for efficient and effective follow up.
There are countless articles written on the amount of times it takes to make a sale. 80% of buyers purchase after the 7th attempt. Most sales people give up after three or four contacts…while many more get distracted with new opportunities and leads fall through the cracks.
Most of those articles don’t specifically focus in the Marketing/Advertising space where deals can take an average of 7-9 months to close with 20-30 follow ups to onboard a new client.
On top of all the different touch points, there are so many nuances of understanding where the client is to close a deal.
How do you maintain following up and adding value throughout the long sales cycle?
Be Persistent, not pesky
It is important to be persistent, to ensure you follow up and stay in touch, and not pesky where all you are doing is being annoying.
Persistent vs. pesky is a fine line to walk. Persistent sales professionals keep ‘adding value’ along with asking appropriate questions to help uncover needs.
Just contacting and asking over and over again “do you want to buy”…”do you want to buy now” is like being the paperboy from the Jon Cusack movie in the 80’s, ‘Better off Dead.’ What it sounds like to your potential customers is “I WANT MY 2 Dollars”…”I WANT MY 2 Dollars.”
Hopefully thinking of the pesky paperboy on skis chasing him down brings a smile to your face.
Your sales goal is to be persistent so your prospect will choose to do business by understanding them and you add enough value to them.
To relate this to sales, identify the process your firm has to onboard a client. I’m sure your team has a process connecting all points in Teamwork (or a similar project tool) to onboard a client successfully.
There are so many moving parts for each campaign. For many clients, you may see a bespoke service that your team follows to deliver the results you sold.
Think about the nuances and precision it takes to deliver your services, whether that is to:
- align Social Media strategies with a communication plan (and easily get access to all the accounts you need…wink, wink) OR
- create a new PPC campaign with new copy, images and align up the clients analytics conversion tracking OR
- discover the deeper brand story underneath.
When you look at your sales process, do you have a clear path to new customers?
Sales Educational Process
Whatever your firm specializes in within the industry, there is an educational sales process that can follow to deliver the same type of bespoke proposals.
The sales process for long tail sales processes can get a little “loose” as the months of the sales process happen.
It might be difficult to keep all the steps together so the key is to visualize the many things that happen step by step in your sales process.
Across the months, when you educate, you are helping your prospects learn strategies that will align your communications with them to onboarding.
Many challenges face the owner to follow up, just remembering to follow up can be a daunting task, let alone who to follow up with and what to send them.
During those 7-9 months offer value to your customer. Stand apart from others by creating your educational process combined with effective follow up.
What value are you going to educate them on based on what your prospect needs?
Leonardo DaVinci regularly created mind maps as a way of highlighting complex ideas in visual form.
What if you could actually visualize every step of your sales process using a similar method?
Where to start?
Glad you asked…
Sales Process Mind Map
Below, is a simple Sales Process Map to focus on the 3 key areas for your own sales process.
How do you determine the many steps to take to bring new deals in? Start by Defining, Documenting and Tracking your way to sales.
- What if your leads were consistently followed up on?
- What if you could document the sales process, step by step?
- What if you could more fully utilize your CRM to grow your sales?
Agency Owner Traits & Challenges
Before we get into each of the categories, let’s start with you…
Many Marketing owners are incredible at creative ideas and they are GREAT in sales. After all, that is what built a successful agency business that has lasted beyond 10 years. After all, according to Inc, 96% of businesses fail after 10 years.
As the owner, where are you challenged now?
Sales leads falling through the cracks?
Most owners are concerned about how to more easily follow up. Eliminate leads from falling through the cracks, and strategically position your top solutions that align with your Persona’s Power of Three (Challenges, Characteristics and Goals.) Do you have the details ready to send to prospects when you do get free moments?
Reacting all day?
Many owners work all day, waking up early to get that quiet time before their kids wake up to get caught up. Many go from meeting to meeting, and the strategy time gets cut to “put out more fires.” Do you work on the details before the rest of your day goes every which way?
Growing your sales team?
Bringing on a new account executive that will work out (after having several unsuccessful attempts in the past) is exciting. Many are at a point where you can hire a new Account Executive and figure it out only to find out that unless they know exactly what steps to follow, they will struggle 6 months or 1 year later after significant investment and training. Do you have the steps of how to advance a sale with materials that share value to your customer?
If you are challenged with any or all of them, each of these challenges have a recurring theme.
Can you identify it?
Creatives and those successful in sales “wing it” and that works…until it doesn’t.
Once you can identify it, you can make the adjustment to choose the change you seek.
Got it yet?
“Winging it” as a recurring theme.
Winging it gets very complex VERY quickly and turnover and scaling are EXTREMELY difficult.
Creating a process
If you know you need to create a process, the challenge is creating the process…
The challenge is, sales doesn’t feel like a process because it’s so natural to you.
Being involved in advertising for 10 years and coaching for the last 10 years (half of at the Tony Robbins organization) I identified many patterns that owners face to help them overcome those sales roadblocks to create a streamlined way to consistent sales.
Back stage at 2013 Tony Robbins training.
I turned in my coaching hat in 2017, to go work for an agency and applied the consulting strategies I had been developing.
Best Sales Practices in 3 steps
Here are 3 steps to narrow this down with questions from my decade in advertising sales and decade in consulting.
Sort through so you can identify gaps in your sales process mind mapping.
Where is your time best spent? Many Owners spend their day in complete reaction. They work all day, go home to their family and wonder, “what did I even do today?!” You are the best sales person in the company and yet, you have limited time to sell. The key is to define block time to focus strategy time to really get clear. Clients I speak to say our weekly consulting meetings are that time where they “work on their business, not in their business.” When was the last time you defined where your time is best spent?
“If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend the first six of them sharpening my axe.“ Abraham Lincoln
How well do you (and your sales team) know your audience? “Connecting, understanding and appreciating someone’s world” is a great idea which takes time. Investing the time to actually talk with prospects and customers to dig into what they really need helps your firm stand out. I encouraged a client to invest one month making contacts with ideal customers to identify what they really wanted. That one month of time investment yielded $1,000,000 in new top line revenue over the next year. The “words and phrases that kept pop corning up” turned a normal 9-month close cycle to a two month close because the “words and phrases that kept pop corning up” from their audience, appreciated their prospects challenges in a way that connected directly back to “their language.” When was the last time you defined what were the phrases your customer needed?
CTA: Set up a time to do a sales process evaluation.
“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” Leonardo daVinci
What does your sales roadmap to clients look like? Many owners speak very intelligently about the first few stages and then when it comes to the later in the long sales cycle, it get’s a little “loose.” Leads get attention initially and then over time, the deals can get stalled. Documenting the roadmap to your close is very important. Invest the time to detail the questions you can ask early on in the process that can streamline some of those “stalls” after a proposal is presented.
After clarifying this roadmap, a client was able to take each step and hire a team member (who wasn’t naturally a sales person) to follow the process and capture the important details. When was the last time you documented each question to qualify and/or disqualify your prospect so you can invest the time on the opportunities most likely to close?
What is communicated in your Sales Operations manual? Many successful agencies don’t have this so don’t worry about it if you don’t have one. Clients I work with have gone or are going through the EOS (Entrepreneurial Operating System) and have operationalized many things, the one very challenging process is sales. That seems to be one of the places that is neglected because so much of what is done is “on the fly.” There is a pattern to every sale from the prospect to the internal team. It’s also important to clarify how the internal planning meetings go, so the proposal process doesn’t consume too much of your teams time. Having 5-8 salaried employees in a proposal meeting that is not run efficiently with a clear laid out agenda with consistent steps can be very expensive for your firm. A client was able to articulate the details needed for the team, email the team those critical important details and cut internal meeting proposal time by 30%. When was the last time you documented all of the steps, to create efficient internal proposal meetings?
CTA: Set up a time to do a sales process evaluation.
“Developing any type of relationship require consistent communication, sales is no different.”
What does your sales follow up look like to lead to your goals? Many owners and their team at this point see consistent leads and referrals. The biggest challenge comes when owners get busy and don’t have as much time “leads falling through the cracks without an effective follow up process. Clients who identify the mini sales goals that prospects achieve help you to focus on the important sales. That way you can send details most relevant to what they are looking to accomplish. What are your tracking when it relates to your follow up steps that lead to effective, consistent follow up?
What metrics are you and your sales team? Owners and Sales Managers want to keep track of “deals in the pipeline” which is a lagging indicator. Look at activity consistency, this is more of a leading indicator, this will help to inform the sales funnel later with meeting and proposals. That metric often gets overlooked. A client I worked with tracked those important metrics and was able to generate a quarterly report showcasing the leading indicators to showcase opportunities in the pipeline and analyze activities that were working and eliminate those that weren’t working. What leading indicators are your tracking?
You made it here, congrats.
I can see you really are committed to this necessary step to grow your firm.
I get it, there there is a lot there, click below to set up a sales process evaluation of your firm and let’s define, document and track your sales process so your company can accomplish more, with less effort.
If you see gaps in these key areas and you want a sales process evaluation, click on the button below to get started.
CTA: Set up a time to do a sales process evaluation.