Don’t Quit So Early: Sometimes The Merchant Just Needs More Time
To this day, I still have no idea who The National Sales Executive Association is, such as what they do, where they’re located and how long they have been in existence (if they even exist at all). But a couple of years ago, I read a quote that was supposedly from this organization, that went as follows:
- 48% of sales people never follow up with a prospect after the first attempt
- 25% of sales people make two attempts with a prospect and stop
- 12% of sales people make three attempts with a prospect and stop
- 10% of sales people make more than three attempts with a prospect
When Sales Are Made
- 2% of sales are made on the first call
- 3% of sales are made on the second call
- 5% of sales are made on the third call
- 10% of sales are made on the fourth call
- 80% of sales are made on the fifth – twelfth calls
From these statistics, we could conclude that 10% of sales people pick up 80% of the sales, due largely to the fact that they initiate five or more call attempts to the prospective client in particular.
While I have no idea who The National Sales Executive Association is, over my time in B2B sales, I can surely say that giving the merchant more time to respond to you surely works. Matter of fact, 2% is very generous, I think that less than 1% of my “closes” have been on the first call attempt and over 90% of my “closes” have come from making at least 5 attempts through either telephone or email.
OUT OF TOUCH SALES MANAGERS
One of the main reasons I have only participated in the profession of Sales on an independent basis, is mainly so that I can contain 100% creative, strategic and operational control, and not be subject to out of touch Sales Managers.
The fact is that far too many Sales Managers are just out of touch, either they will have their team using outdated marketing tactics such as calling UCCs, Aged Leads, or random listings out of the Yellow Pages, or they might have their team selling inefficient products. In terms of inefficient products, they might have their reps trying to push 1.30 factored rated advances on A Paper clients in the age of Lending Club and other A Paper lenders filling up the merchant’s mailbox, email and voicemail with A Paper offers.
But if these two aspects weren’t bad enough, far too many Sales Managers also have a very impatient disposition when it comes to the B2B sales cycle. Far too often, they will set B2B sales quotas either by the day, the week, or the month, rather than by the quarter or the year, as they should be set.
The bottom line is that sometimes it just takes a merchant longer than usual to move forward, which while it surely delays the sales cycle, it doesn’t mean that the merchant is disinterested or trying to pull your chain, sometimes there’s just legitimate delays in the B2B sales cycle.
THE REALITY OF THE B2B SALES CYCLE
Far too many Sales Managers are just out of touch, as they still believe in the mythical smooth walking, talking and overly charismatic sales guy who can sell fire to Hell. According to these types of Sales Managers, you should be able to get all of your applications within the first call or within the first week of speaking with a merchant, and if you don’t, then apparently you don’t belong in this industry and should seek opportunities elsewhere.
How out of touch could these guys be? Have they ever in their life managed an individual B2B Sales Pipeline? In reality, here’s how the deals go most of the time:
- Your first attempt with the merchant is on a Monday. The merchant is interested but is very busy right now as he’s about to enter his afternoon rush. He gives you his email, says to email him over information and follow up on Thursday.
- You email information that Monday night and then follow up that Thursday. You get his staff member on the telephone saying he had to leave early today, but will be back on Saturday. You send him a follow up email on Thursday night.
- You call back on Saturday and he answers the telephone, he confirms that he received the email but just hasn’t had time to sit down and take a look over everything. Says to follow up with him this Monday at 2:00 p.m. before his afternoon rush.
- You call back that Monday, he says he has a good 5 minutes to talk and before you can begin speaking, he immediately begins a long discourse. He talks about how he’s looking at setting up this second location and how he has it all lined out, he just needs a good $100k to get the second location up and running. His bank hasn’t been that much of a help for this project and he reviewed your email, he likes the premium estimated price ranges that you have listed with up to 24 month terms. You begin to ask him some questions to properly pre-qualify him, you discover that he’s an A Paper client and you estimate that you can get him approved for the $100k over 24 months that he’s interested in. You go over the documentation needed to get started and the estimated timeframe until funding completion. He says that sounds great and to email everything you need from him by email tonight, and he’ll work on getting that back to you as soon as he gets back to his home office tonight.
- You email him that Monday night with items needed to move forward. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday go by, you don’t hear anything from him.
- You follow up with him on Friday and his staff member says he’s not there but he will indeed be back on Monday. You leave a message for him with his staff member as well as send him a follow up email that Friday afternoon.
- You call back on that Monday, his staff member says he is available and goes to bring him on the telephone. He gets on the telephone and says he’s been working on the items this morning and will fax them shortly. He asks for your fax line once again.
- On Wednesday morning, you get a fax from him with only partial items of the application package, such as only 2 pages of your 3 page application, and only 2 months of bank statements even though you requested 3 months. You call him that Wednesday afternoon to confirm receipt and request the additional items that were missing. He says he will get that right over to you here shortly.
- Thursday and Friday go by, you receive no additional items. You send him a follow up email on Friday night about the additional items.
- You follow up with him that Monday to touch base for the additional items, he gets that over to you by fax that afternoon, now giving you a completed application package. Now you have a completed application package, or what is referred to as a “close”, but that took four weeks of follow up which included 8 follow up calls and numerous emails.
SOMETIMES IT COULD TAKE 6 MONTHS OR MORE
This was just one example of where it took four weeks to get a completed application package, however, sometimes it could take up to 6 months for me to receive a completed application package from a merchant due to various reasons.
Some of the reasons include: waiting for an existing balance to come down, waiting for a tax lien payment plan to get finalized, waiting for a bankruptcy discharge, waiting for NSFs to come down, the merchant running into a family emergency, or the project for which the merchant needed funding gets put on hold in some way.
SOMETIMES THE MERCHANT JUST NEEDS MORE TIME, DON’T QUIT SO EARLY
This is why any B2B sales quota that’s measured on a daily, weekly or monthly basis is completely and utterly insane. B2B sales cycles can take longer and are usually more complex than B2C sales cycles which involve fewer decision makers, lower dollar exchanges and usually less complex solutions.
This is why Sales Managers and Agents alike should be more patient when it comes to the B2B sales cycle. On a daily basis, the focus should just be on continuing to grow your B2B Sales Pipeline as well as follow up on said B2B Sales Pipeline through telephone calls, email, mail and social media. You would then begin to receive emails, faxes and mailings with various application packages from members of your B2B Sales pipelines at random times of the day and night.
You should judge the effectiveness of your process on more of a quarterly or annual basis, rather than daily, weekly, or monthly, as sometimes the merchant just needs more time.
Don’t quit so early.
John Tucker is Managing Member of 1st Capital Loans LLC, as well as an M.B.A. graduate and holder of three bachelor's degrees in Accounting, Business Management and Journalism. Tucker has nearly 9 years of professional experience in Commercial Finance and B2B Sales. Connect with Tucker on LinkedIn by clicking (here), or contact Tucker at Tucker@1stCapitalLoans.com or at 586-480-2140.