I’m part of a Slack community filled with agency owners, and last week one of the participants asked, “How’s everyone’s pipeline right now? Have changes in the economy impacted your sales results?”
What followed was a deluge of reports;
- We’re hearing a lot of “wait and see.”
- Our sales cycle is getting longer.
- Deals that were “sure things” are getting delayed or not closing at all.
- When we get a deal closed, the budget is significantly lower than the one we started talking about!
There are certain sectors where the story is different, and I have clients who are closing deals just fine, but the consensus (in that group) is clients are tightening their budgets and looking for “sure things.”
This has me doubly concerned because we’re coming to the end of the second quarter. Historically, decisions slow down late in the summer. So if you are behind on your sales goals now, it can be tough to catch up before Fall.
How do we sell in this environment?
If you are seeing demand soften in your market, here are some adjustments you can make.
If a lower percentage of deals are closing, you need more opportunities in the top of your funnel.
What makes leads happen in your business?
If you’ve been OK with passive lead generation, now might be the time to do some outreach. If you have relied on SEO, could you add a PPC budget to create more leads?
Consider: What conversation would your ideal client be excited to have with you? How could you create more of those conversations every week?
You can’t afford to waste time with folks who aren’t moving forward.
Once you increase your top-of-funnel activity, get serious about qualifying those leads.
I don’t believe in qualifying too fast – I want to turn as many of those leads into conversations as I can. More conversations => More sales.
If, after that initial conversation, they are asking for a next meeting, great! Make it count – get to the heart of the value they see being created through working with you and move that toward a decision! Go as far as you can in each conversation.
If a deal stalls out or the prospect’s enthusiasm wanes, move on. I know you have sunk cost into this lead, but there’s more profit in originating a new lead who’s excited and sees strong value than in trying to push a reluctant prospect into a sale.
Consider: How many opportunities in your pipeline are you following up with after not hearing back from them on the last follow-up? (I think those deals are dead.)
Get scrappy! What quick-hit opportunities can offer immediate results and open the door to a larger engagement?
Under ordinary circumstances, I’d counsel you to push for higher-value projects. You want to maintain a roster of 10 – 20 clients, so each must represent 5% – 10% of your expected annual revenue.
But if you have a prospect who has the potential to spend at that level, this might be the time to propose some kind of starter project. Something with a low enough budget to make it a “no brainer” and that gives them some immediate impact.
Consider: How could you create a profitable, tightly constrained project that you could deliver at a price that folks would say yes to?
If you need new contracts to sustain your agency, and you are seeing things slow down, now is the time to act!