Many business owners don't understand the fundamental law of how new business development actually happens. If you're stuck in a mentality of looking only for opportunities that will close in the next 90 days, not only is that shortsighted, but it's wildly expensive and wrong. What are you doing with the leads that aren't ready to do anything in 90 days? What do you do with the contacts that tell you, “I don't want to do anything this year but maybe I'll do something next year?” Do you throw them away? Do you think you'll come back to them at some point – maybe?
Too often what really happens is – nothing. Because you're so busy looking for the opportunities that are going to close in the next 90 days, you're not doing anything with the people who actually told you they will do something in the future.
You've thrown away all the hard work you did to find them, uncover their issue, and actually learn when they might be ready to engage. In throwing away all those contacts who won’t be ready within the next 90 days, you're raising the cost of your new business development and making it consistently more difficult.
Each time you place a call to a new contact, you have a sunk cost to:
- reach the contact
- learn more about their business
- uncover their issue
- extract the timeframe that they would consider your services
When you don’t capture those contacts for lead nurture and future follow up, you drive your new business development costs that much higher by throwing away potential future opportunity you know about today.
You're sifting through only looking for those couple of people that might need something right now. Forget that it's highly competitive if you hit on them when they're already looking and probably already engaged with your competitors. It's that you had a perfectly good lead in your hand and you threw it away.
Now ask yourself, what are you going to do about those people who aren't ready right now?
Are you going to use your CRM to put some type of lead follow up process in place to make sure they receive a call again?
Do you have a closed loop lead follow up process to ensure a call back happens?
If prospects aren’t ready to engage in the sales process now, are you going to put a lead nurture campaign in place to stay visible to them, without over-selling them, until they are ready?
Is it possible that these warm contacts are going to fall through the cracks of your lead nurture and follow up process?
New business development is not about appointment setting for the next lead that will close in 60-90 days. Rather, it's about establishing relationships with future potential buyers, identifying when they might be interested in working with you and the drivers that would cause them to work with you, and then staying in touch with them until the time is right.
There are many different ways that you can stay in touch with your prospects. Diligent hunters and nurturing campaigns are two of the most popular. But if you're not staying in touch with those leads that you're generating today because they've told you they're not going to close for 12 or even 24 months, you are throwing away your money. And you're definitely not doing new business development.
So you have to ask yourself, what kind of sales organization do you want to be? Do you want to be a transactional, opportunistic sales organization looking to find the next hot lead and throwing away those people who aren't ready to buy within the next 60 to 90 days? That’s tiring and wasteful.
Or are you going to be a business development organization building a funnel of relationships that will turn into future customers when they are ready to engage with you? The choice is yours.
For more on this topic, read NewVoiceMedia’s white paper, The biggest mistake sales dev reps are making.
This post was originally published on the KLA Group blog, and is republished here with permission from Kendra Lee.