Five years ago, I decided to build my own car.
It was a dream since my childhood when my dad built a Lotus Elan from a kit. I loved the smell, the excitement of the power in the acceleration, everything. So, I decided I was going to do the same thing with an AC Cobra replica.
I’d like to say that I whistled along with a smile on my face every time I tinkered away in my mechanic’s overalls, but that wasn’t the case. The project took two years of hard work. It was often frustrating, damn right infuriating at times, and there were plenty of occasions when I thought about throwing in the oily rag.
But I’m so glad I didn’t. You learn a lot about yourself when you take on something that requires commitment and patience because these days we’ve come to expect instant payoffs in life and in business.
Salespeople are always looking for instant hefty profit hits and shortcuts to a better bottom line. Of course, maximum profit for minimum work would be nice but sustainability is always the issue.
Social media marketing, for example, is an essential part of any business’ strategy. It started as a revolutionary way to connect with our audiences and can now generate leads quickly and cheaply.
The problem is, everyone has the same idea of tapping into the digital market, creating a crowded, competitive space. As quickly as you’ve generated leads, other companies come along, and you’re no longer visible, let alone impactful.
The key isn’t about expanding your reach and catching more people’s attention. It’s about being targeted in your approach and taking the time to build a lasting relationship with your clients. This is the person-to-person (P2P) model of sales. In a market that’s become accustomed to blanket campaigns, personal connections with customers are becoming invaluable.
It starts with learning about a person’s pain points, the problems they’re facing, or may not know they’re facing. Then, you build a genuine and honest relationship, enabling you to help solve their problems and turn them into a customer.
This long-term strategy is poised to give you the best return on your investment, but it’s much harder and hampered by an expectations problem. Rather than days or weeks, the P2P prospecting sales cycle can last three to six months, or perhaps more.
Unfortunately, many companies give up well before that point. They cut their campaigns short, long before they have a chance to gain traction.
You have to be patient. You’re not going to reap any rewards with an SEO strategy if you only run it for a week or a month. Likewise, P2P prospecting isn’t going to generate the kind of long-term results you want without a significant time investment.
The secret to success in sales is (and always has been) consistent and strategic activity, day after day, week after week.
My company, Forrest Marketing Group, specialises in P2P sales prospecting and we put in the time and effort to create a sustainable strategy for our clients. Over the last decade, we’ve made more than four million phone calls on behalf of our clients. We’ve generated tens of thousands of sales leads, which have turned into hundreds of millions of dollars in sales for our clients.
These sales have been the result of prospecting to potential customers who weren’t even on our clients’ radars – the 80% of the market that is not visible through online search (you’ll find more on this in my book, The Ultimate Guide to B2B Sales Prospecting*).
Many sales professionals have forgotten that it’s hard work that gets results consistently. A pipeline full of leads is the result of long-term commitment and patience and it is built over months and years. Yes, you’ve guessed it, exactly the same kind of dedication it takes to build your own car instead of strolling into a showroom.
Now, I promised myself that I wouldn’t pepper this article with analogies of the parts of a car being parts of a business. – likening a powerful engine to a well-oiled sales team, or the steering wheel to a visionary CEO, etc. However, I will allow myself one. For me, lead generation is very much the petrol. Without it, you won’t be going anywhere.
Richard Forrest is a leading authority on B2B selling and author of The Ultimate Guide to B2B Sales Prospecting
* For more information on how to access this hidden market, simply drop me a line at email@example.com and I’ll send you a copy of my book at no cost.