And many strokes, though with a little axe, Hew down and fell the hardest-timbered oak – William Shakespeare, King Henry IV
In the incredibly fast paced world we live in today – there is an increasing expectation by many that we can achieve instant results, with little effort.
So many things we involve ourselves with today are about instant gratification and laziness. Often it comes at a cost we simply don’t care about. Little know that the food you order from your favourite restaurant but have delivered by Uber Eats comes at an extraordinary cost to that restaurant. But we simply don’t care – our convenience rules.
Professionally, we are getting similarly guilty. LinkedIn and other social channels put our clients and prospects a mere keystroke and mouse click away. For those that have actually embraced social with reckless abandon – connections, inmails and messages are flying everywhere. These messages are fast becoming ridiculously common. We scorn the phone in lieu of the keyboard. We constantly look for the one silver bullet to make it easy. The axe that fells the tree with one swing.
It is the reason cold calling is espoused as dead. It simply takes too much effort, so it is easy for people to shoot down in lieu of the vast and many alternatives to immediate success.
We simply want quick wins. With minimal effort.
We can sent out thousands of messages without leaving our desk. By morning tea time. Sit back and wait for the action to happen. .
But it doesn’t happen. They don’t respond or call. It isn’t more effective.
Why? Well, aside from the obvious issue with the ‘have I got a deal for you’ content on social, it largely boils down the fact that nearly all clients aren’t won with one single grandiose gesture (big axe), let alone a single contact (one swing). In fact, in most situations, this repels most clients. Including any Ginsu Steak Knives, they have seen it before. And probably been burnt by it.
They want, need and crave a relationship with someone who can deliver real value to them and their business. Not a whole lot of sizzle and bugger all sausage.
In the words of Shakespeare (and some poetic license), the oak is felled by many strokes with a small axe – not one glorious stroke from a massive one.
What does this means?
Be Consistently Good!
Like most things in life, it is better to be consistently good. Single, grandiose gestures seldom win. Think – be the turtle not the hare. Winning a new client, especially your ideal clients, isn’t easy. Nor should it be. Winning them takes time and delivery of a consistent level of value consistently. This is first as it is really easy to be curious and compelling at the first few contacts, but like any relationship it is equally easy to fall in to a start of apathy.
Truth be told, this is often how you will win deals as well if their existing provider has reverted to ‘business as usual’ and BAU isn’t that great. But ask yourself this – how many of your client relationships are in a state of apathy?
One of the most underrated skills of a professional sales person is tenacity. Given it takes many strokes, good sales people don’t give up after 1, 10 or 100 (admittedly, at 100 contacts, you certainly should review your approach at least) unless they have prequalified their client out during the process (or vice versa).
Sure, you always need to be aware of the return on your investment of time, but provided you are getting the right signals, Stay. The. Course.
Remember, you next ideal client is very probably currently the ideal client of your competitor. They deserve to be and probably are well loved by them…don’t be so naive to assume they are sitting there waiting for you to call.
Be Value Rich
Many small strokes only works if you know what you’re doing. It means hitting the tree correctly, each and every time.
It means adding value and building trust consistently, with every contact. Showing your prospect why they should be doing business with you, and you with them. Not telling. Showing. Your and your clients time are valuable – so don’t be valueless when you engage them.
One good swing will seldom bring a tree down. Much the same in sales, a single piece of value, no matter how significant, will win a client. Sure, you may fluke it or it may simply look like it – but it seldom does.
More importantly it is about consistently demonstrating you understand them and their business and care enough to continually provide insight and advice of value to help them.
Regular, value rich contact doesn’t happen by accident. The ‘many small strokes’ is about engaging with your clients regularly, at the right time and with the right information. About planning for the contact, during the contact and after the contact. About being a professional and not leaving the process to chance.
For some, it is simply too tiring as the bit Shakespeare didn’t factor in was, unlike the lumberjack, sales people are usually trying to fell multiple trees at the same time.
There is only one reason why someone with a small axe would hit a big oak tree many times – they really really want that oak tree, not the entire forest (or they simply don’t have a bigger axe I guess?). You only have so much energy and time – make sure you are hitting the right tree. Pre-qualify and qualify continually. Just because you started swinging, doesn’t mean you should keep going mindlessly. Your and your clients time is valuable. Don’t waste it – learn how to prequalify potential clients! Don’t confuse any opportunity with the right one. Hunger for starvation. It is also about being smart enough to know when to walk away from the tree and find a new one.
Finally, Choose Your Axe Wisely And Wield It Well
Undoubtedly, a dull axe won’t be as effective as a sharp one. Grow your knowledge and skills as these are the tools of an effective sales person. As measured in the eyes of your client or prospect. If you can’t move your prospect closer to doing business with you, your value proposition simply isn’t strong enough or delivered well enough. Either improve your value, how you convey it or, being honest, find a prospect for who it resonates better for.
Make sure you choose the appropriate channel and content when engaged your client. And always spend time practising and refining your skills. Schedule it – don’t leave it to chance.
Sure, there are always unicorn moments where you have a massive value rich opportunity to win a dream client. But, in reality, these are few and far between and are often akin to being in the right place at the right time. Where most sales people let themselves down when it comes to success is it is about small, regular, value-rich engagements with your prospects. It is too hard. They end up with no timber in a forest full of trees.
Value is axe of a sales person.