Where is my sales process failing?
I am a professional headhunter specialising in middle and top management search in advertising and marketing. Now there is a problem with new clients. I find a new client (company), we meet and negotiate rates and staff needs. Then the client says: "I have to think" and disappears OR we can't approve a contract (client begins to impose its conditions of work). No client as a result OR pointless negotiations.
Could your terms and conditions be too complex not clear or undefined?
The CEB has done some very good work around qualifying prospects. Their techniques are also in the Challenger selling books. The gist of their approach is that you need to seek out Go-Getters in the company instead of the ones who seem friendly but are actually not going to mobilize change. Examine you process for disqualifying stakeholders.
Maybe your clients don't have any issues with their current agencies and even if they do are you offering them a viable solution. Have you found common ground with your new clients. I find some in sales think they can go into a new client with the same approach they have with their existing clients. This is especially the case with well established sales personnel. I am a great believer in the Psychology of the sales process. If they are imposing their conditions then maybe that is an easy way of saying we don't want to deal with you.
I think the problem is that your sales process is to simple, or "optimistic". Almost of companies or their sales representative have to hear : "I have to think" after the first appointment or the first proposal.
First, you have to consider the current economic / business situation today : a lot of competitors, difficulties to approach the good interlocutor (or he needs the approval of its management), little budjet, and if you are a small or medium business, the apprehension ... all of this do that a simple approach of your client and some negociation paralyze your development.
I think, the first step is to provide (maybe it's already done) a good brand, doing it attractive.
Then, you shall attract your client thanks some referrals (important business, maybe competitors to provide some jealousy ... ) and case studies.
This 2 points will do your clients more interested and confident.
But the most important step is the third one, you have to develop an effective sales process, with sales representatives and sales manager or use some outsourcing to keep in touch with your new clients, remmenber them the asset you can be, your services, maybe some special offers, try to share with them thanks to social networks ...
To be attractive and always stay in touch with them, it's the secret ...
Jim Rohn was an amazing person to listen to when it came to getting the leads and getting the sale. I remember a seminar he said. I was so good at selling when I left the room, I was amazed at how well I sold my service. I was also amazed that no one was buying. You clients need to not only hear what you are saying they need to see it through your words. I wont go on the normal tangent like I normally do. Best of success! Gil
Here is an excerpt of Jim Rohn. I wish I heard of him when I was younger.
The Art Of Persuasion For Online Business
Consider offering your service for free to organisations especially those that cannot pay for your service.. I am pretty sure that if your service is very good before long those that can afford your service will come calling.
The question you asked is a huge one that demands a very interactive relationship with a mentor or coach in Third-party recruiting. The sales/marketing process today is dramatically different because our clients are dramatically different by generational perspectives so we must change up our practices. Check out RecruiterElearning.com or private message me.
P.S. I would gladly give you a simple answer if there were one. Sales for us is a process.
You probably won't like this. Your comment "Now there is a problem with new clients" sounds to me like you expect their business just because you showed up. Your new client (company) is a prospect until you actually get the business. Are you asking questions about their needs or just telling them how great you are? If you are asking the right questions and lot's of them about their needs and their business you are just another sales guy. Your product is people. It's a relationship situation that you need to build by learning all you can about your prospect. Why do they need to fill the position? Ask the hard questions to get to the real problem.
To your success!
Alexey, here is a link to a FREE sales assessment that may help you identify the specific cause(s) for your sales "failings."
Sales Approach Assessment: http://goo.gl/EWW5Jn
The assessment was created by Robert Nitschke at Collaboration HQ.
Great question, some good answers.
I have a different approach.
You should be working backwards. .... Now that's got your attention.
To start with you need to consider your self as a contractor and not an employee.
It seems that you have little problem in getting clients. (companies) and you have little problem in obtaining suitable candidates.
If you were have such issues the question would be how do I attract .........
I an sure that you do offer something unique along with the usual placement guarantees and reimbursements. (that would be industry standards.)
So this kind of leaves the sales process.
My suggestion is to review how you are doing in this part.
To help you let me ask a few questions. which may provide some steps.
1) Do you receive a "Brief" from your client. (the company)
2) Do you prepare a submission for approval to engage in accordance to the Brief.
3) If not you may want to draft your own Brief and acknowledgement to proceed.
4) In this document do you
a) Have a 3 mth exclusivity clause.
b) An outline of your procedure. Pre listing, short list Pre selection. Presentation of short list, Attendance at Interview and or followup.
c) Scale of fee's.
d) % of payments (which are due at say final listing) which are offset final selection. (This covers cost of advertising and your time up to date.)
e) % of payment against final selection. + time line guarantee / free replacement if candidate fails within .......months.
5) Have the agreement signed by the person who can authorize the job placement and the finance.
6) This way your brief acknowledgement also becomes your order and authorization to proceed.
If they are genuine they will sign. If not you have not wasted a lot of time and energy.
You can easily state your case of being burnt by companies who have used your time and skills and have not honored their agreement, as the reason you are working this way.
Closing the sale issues... Attend seminars and read up on how to close the deal. I knew a guy that could everything perfect up until the close. He never made a single sale because he danced to much.
Why did the client agree to meet in the first place, if not to hire someone? To me there seems to be a lack of a compelling reason - so first perhaps identify those clients who need someone rather than want something.
Their terms or yours, does it matter?
why not ask them whats wrong send a feedback form or ask a secretary
Lots of thoughtful answers for you and I have one more question. Have you asked these potential new clients why the pulled out at the last minute. Because once you know why the are pulling out and not committing you can then begin to craft a process that will overcome this obstacle and begin to close the deal. Most deals are closed between the fifth and seventh follow up, so be prepared to hang in there maybe just a bit longer than most.
You need to get into written agreement with your client in case your clients have ditched you. Must announce your terms and conditions right in the beginning of discussion or negotiation.
Alexey, there is one single truth when it comes to sales, especially B2B like in your case. Client buys what he/she needs or think he/she needs. If you have problems in sales, that could signal several possible issues:
- your price and conditions is not competitive
- client is not sure what s/he wants and you don't consult him/her adequately
- you are not offering the right goods (at least according to the client)
Everything is subjective. That is why in my business the first thing to do is to determine the needs of the client, reach agreement on these needs, determine the price s/he is ready to pay and finally, close the deal. Quite often the client doesn't know his/her real needs, so this is an important part of my work. The price and the conditions are important too. With the large market nowadays and with al these ways of communications it is not very difficult to form a market price of good or service. However, there are plenty of possibilities for differentiation and here comes the power of the brand. A good brand could distort the current market price. Finally, your product could be with unsatisfactory quality. Have you checked recently the turnover rate of people you have sold?
However, what you are telling us about the reaction of your clients is that they lose interest DURING the first conversation with you. "I'll think about" is a polite way to say "I am not interested". Look at the price of your product, your conditions, the quality. If the client comes to you, that means she has had some interest which she lose during your conversation.
Again, these are just ideas. The info you are providing is just not enough. You need a deeper analysis.
Hope you solve your problem;
Clients will always suggest their conditions of work. Recruitment is a buyer's market, all the power is with the buyer. Contract negotiations are about how much risk you will accept for what you are getting out of the agreement. The client is king - they are the boss. Some other commenters already mentioned price and I could not agree more, but consider also your approach to contractual terms. If you are being pushy with your conditions, then for sure a potential client will walk away. Listen to your client and try to understand what they are looking for in terms of their risk/reward. If they are asking for something that is too risky for you, frame it in that way back to them (what they are asking of you is too much risk).
It's important you establish next steps every time you communicate with your prospect. Also, your closing sounds soft. After so much work with a client you have the right to ask them for their business and ask what is left to consider if they balk. If you don't have a sales team or individual then you'll need to bring one in or fill the role yourself. "The Challenger Sale" is a great book I highly recommend. I understand these questions allow for limited insight and limited response quality so feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn to schedule some time to chat.
As many others have indicated, you may have a problem in closing the deal. I would ask if you have already assessed the competition and worked into your sales strategy the added value and must have portion of your services which lift you from the pack. If you do not have these, then take a step back and find what they are, and if they are lacking, beef up your added value and make sure it is up front and center. You and your staff should be able to quickly state what makes you exceptional up front.
You also are indicating a front heavy negotiation without the commitment. I would address this issue, Do you have a letter of intent prior to the detailed negotiations? Are you negotiating with a soft agreement or worse, no agreement at all? If you are wasting your time, you are wasting your resources. It is worthwhile to have someone evaluate your sales strategies, your competition and value, and your contract process. Good luck! Contact me if I may be of assistance.
If the deals you're working on aren't closing then the mostly likely problem is that you're talking to the wrong people. Take a hard look at how you're finding these "prospects" and what truly "qualifies" a prospect. Think of the best clients you have. What objective criteria about them did you notice before they became clients. How can you find prospects that match those same criteria?