October 27, 2011

Strategic Target Accounts, Nurture Marketing, Faith and Pneumonia

There is a time to plant and a time to harvest. There is a time to work incredibly hard and a time to relax. And hopefully not very often, there is a time to be ill.

Last week I went down hard. Turned out to be pneumonia. I am thankful for great docs, effective meds, an understanding family and flexible clients. It was a heck of a week and I am still not back to 100%.

So why am I sharing this? What’s the sales point? Last week, while as incapacitated and ill as I’ve been in my adult life, it looks like I picked up two new clients. Maybe three. During a week I almost could not talk and could barely craft an articulate email, I experienced some significant sales success.

After taking a few days to reflect, here are my take-aways I’d like to share:

Strategic Target Accounts:  I am a simple man with a very simple framework for new business development. Selecting strategic target prospects in the first step in my model:  Select Targets, Create & Deploy Weapons, Plan & Execute the Attack. Anyone who has spent a decent amount of time with me has heard it over and over. Targets is first for a reason! Both new deals I closed last week are with companies that have been on my target list since there was snow on the ground last winter. The fact that we are putting a deal together now is not an accident.

Nurture Marketing:  Those two accounts were not only on my target list, but they also received some intentional nurturing from me throughout the year. When I wrote a blog post that I thought might benefit them, I’d take a minute to write a brief note and include a link to the post. Or when I came across a relevant article, I would pass it on hoping to bring some value and also reminding them that I was out here. One of these companies gave me a bit of the run-around early in our relationship. I could have taken it personally, expressed frustration or gone all “sales trainer” on them insisting on a yes or a no. But I liked the people and honestly believed  that they wanted to work with me and that I could help them. So instead of blowing it up, I chose to be patient. I guess a sub-lesson, along with the value of nurturing strategic targets, is that sometimes even owners of a company can’t pull the trigger. And forcing someone who is not ready into a decision only works in sales training books, not with real people.

Faith: In over a year sharing sales thoughts on this blog, I’ve never touched on my faith. And that is intentional. I want to create dialogue around sales ideas and have no desire to preach or make anyone uncomfortable. I’ve got friends, colleagues and clients on all ends of the belief and unbelief spectrum – and I like it that way. Now having said that, I have a personal belief in a God who provides. After a week like last week, I would be foolish not to reflect on the fact that these two deals came to me at a time when I could barely walk, let alone sell. Said another way, I am thankful for the reminder that even though I occasionally act like it, I don’t run the universe and am not in control. It’s my job to to work the process; to be faithful; to use my gifts to the best of my ability; to plant seeds; to water them and to nurture! And it’s a beautiful thing when a flower pops up!

My encouragement: Keep working your target prospects. You picked them for a reason — or at least you should have. Don’t be so quick to change direction. Often, it takes time to gain traction, to build confidence, to demonstrate you really want it, to earn the opportunity. Nurture the relationship and bring value along the way. Don’t just “keep in touch” for the sake of keeping in touch. Set yourself apart. Demonstrate you want the business and have the resilience to persevere. Don’t get mad and don’t take it personally when your timetable does not align with your prospect’s. Sometimes there are circumstances beyond your control preventing a deal from coming together.

Are there some seeds out there you planted a while back that could use some watering?