Recently at FreelanceCampTO, I had the pleasure of taking in an excellent sales presentation called "Pitching and Sales Techniques" from Carla Langhorst. Carla recently launched a website called SmallBusinessSolver.com. The website is a much needed idea -- helping small businesses solve solutions at a very low cost and in a very transparent way. If you've tried SBS please let us know in the comments below.
The presentation provided a lot of context for the sales process. It provided a lot of background for the who/why/what/when questions related to sales. Particularly interesting was a rule of thumb on the "when to say it" process. Carla describes the process in several steps:
- Follow Up/Deliver
Each one of these steps takes a different amount of time to effectively complete. And there is a very different set of actions and techniques required at each step. A good sales person will know how to do each effectively.
Carla says prospecting can be done best in 2-5 minutes, especially if you have a good 30 second pitch that answers that what and the who. What does your product/service do and for whom?
Building interest takes 20-50 minutes. A proposal can take 3-8 hours to develop. While closing basically happens (or doesn't happen) fairly quickly, the follow up takes 30-100 hours (or more), usually depending on the scope of the work.
The math works like this: each subsequent step down the funnel takes roughly 10 times the length of the previous step before it. Prospecting takes 2-5 minutes, and building interest takes 20-50 minutes. Writing a proposal takes 200-500 minutes (ie 3-8 hours), and follow up takes 2000-5000 minutes (300-100 hours). Of course if the project takes a year to finish, the prospecting task itself may take roughly 3 hours -- that is the amount of work required to land huge projects is directly proportional to the work that is involved in the delivery.
Think about this math the next time you attempt to land that huge, year-encompassing task. Looking for business, and prospecting can be very much like looking for gold.