Let me ask you a question. Are you planning on buying a refrigerator today?
How about a phone … or a root canal … or a new pair of underwear?
I may not know you, and yet I’m confident that the answer to these questions is No, No, No and Watch it, mister.
Interestingly, I’m also quite confident that sooner or later, you will purchase all four.
The difference, of course, is timing – we all need to buy or replace these things eventually, just probably not right now.
When it comes to sales, timing plays a huge (some might say, refrigerator-sized) role in your success. It’s way easier to sell something to someone if they are already in need of it.
Consider the example of my local Toyota dealer.
Our three-year lease on a Highlander runs out next month and these guys have been calling weekly, pursuing us like a peckish terrier who’s finally figured out that the treats are in your pocket (or whatever).
They’re doing whatever they can to convince us to walk away from the car and give it back to them.
I’ve found their eagerness puzzling and so I called my friend Steve Roe of Roe Motors in Grants Pass, Oregon and asked him for some perspective. He sized it all up immediately:
“It’s partly because they believe the car is worth more than what the buyout price is. But it’s also because they know that if you turn that car in, you are in the market for a new vehicle right now.”
Nearly everybody buys a car; most people don’t buy one today. Toyota knows that come next month, I’m not most people. If I turn that car in, I need a replacement right away.
For professional service firms, unfortunately, this degree of prospect timing insight is rare. Because while plenty of people and companies switch financial planners, hire new HR consultants, outsource training, and find themselves in need of any number of other services every day, it’s pretty tough to determine who needs what and when before the fact.
But what if we could remove timing from the equation?
What if, instead of hoping that our sales pitch falls on the right ears on the right day, we took a different approach, one that keeps us in front of everyone we know, on a regular basis, forever?
If that happened, and because we’d always be there – friendly, helpful and clear about whom we work with and the kind of work we do – the people we know would naturally seek us out when they had a need that we could fill.
I hope you’ve guessed by now that I’m suggesting you publish an email newsletter.
Not a blog that you post on your web site in the hope that some Googling stranger stumbles across it. Not a networking meeting that you attend, trolling for prospects. Not an email blast that you only spit up whenever you’ve got something to sell.
I’m talking about a consistently published piece of useful, original content that positions you as a likeable expert and, that is sent to a list of people who have given you permission to talk to them.
Do that, and the need for prospect timing goes away.
Here’s the bottom line. As a professional, the two most valuable assets you have are your knowledge and your existing relationships.
You can run around hoping to find people who are ready to buy today, or you can publish a newsletter and let them find you.