Late last year something happened in my business’ sales cycle and it got me thinking.
To support another organization, I placed a call to a friend of mine whom I had known for about a dozen years. In the course of the conversation about this other topic, he asked me about marketing and advertising. He wondered how we help clients and what we do. Before long, we were into an actual sales process.
I didn’t call to talk with him about my company, but for his company the time was right and the need was evident. His company was situated for a fast decision and a fresh start in the new calendar year. While I cannot recall the exact number of meetings we had, or the length of time it took this prospective client to decide to work with us, I know it went fast.
Sometimes situations like that happen, but that doesn’t present the whole picture.
In consulting with companies one of the things we evaluate is how clients buy and when they buy. It’s a popular topic about which many papers and books have been written. The interesting thing about this particular new client was the peculiar circumstances. On one hand you could make the case it was a two week sales cycle and that closed deal was brilliantly accomplished. You could also argue it took over a dozen years and that more direct and clear communication at various points over the past decade could have led to a much quicker close.
In some ways both perspectives are right.
It probably took years for this friend to realize my firm was substantial, able to help his company, and when he needed us, we were right there and prepared to help. Conversely, my December call unrelated to his marketing needs jolted a conversation he may well have recently been thinking about having.
The lesson is related to the value of mixing the long-term regimented and ongoing marketing approach with the keen eye for current and open opportunities. It fits into one of the primary pieces of advice for others in business. Keep your head down grinding while lifting your eyes looking for opportunities.