Many companies hunt for sales. They hire a salesperson, pay the base salary plus commission and the sales costs that go with it. The salesperson closes one sale out of every ten leads (an estimate, different for every business.) So, a lot of effort goes into creating and working leads that never turn into sales.
I gave up that model before I ever started this business. It wasn’t a strategic or financial decision: I didn’t have the money to hire a salesperson, and I’m not a very good hunter myself.
Instead, we farmed: my employees and I blogged about our business and found opportunities to speak with or train potential customers. Those potential customers often called and said, “Hey, can we talk about you doing some consulting for us?”
Farming is a much more efficient way to do sales than hunting:
- The customer who comes to you is partially qualified. They almost always need what you’re selling. Sure, they may not be able to afford your price points. But you can qualify that on the first phone call.
- They have identified your company as one they are potentially interested in doing business with. That means you don’t have to turn somersaults to prove your worth. I learned that when I would ask at the end of a call, “Do you have any questions for us?” and the answer would be, “Oh, we already know you guys. We’ve been reading your blog for years.”
- The person who contacts you may not be the final decision-maker, but is usually part of the decision process. And just think how long it takes when you’re hunting to figure out who the right person is and then get them to take your call…
- You may be able to be the only vendor competing for the business. Lots of companies have rules about how many vendors must bid on a job, but plenty don’t. Even if the company has those kinds of procurement rules, you’ve already made the short list.
Recently, I did an analysis of five years worth of leads, which for technical reasons had to include clearly unqualified inbound calls. We closed one out of four. “You were lucky,” a sales coach said to me. “Nah,” I replied, “those companies already wanted to do business with us. They just needed a little guidance.”