Buyers have the luxury of excuses for not getting into the thick of (business) things in January but you don’t. The favourite ones include, “Bado mapema, boss” (It’s still too early in the year) and “Wacha tupeleke watoto shule kwanza” (Let me finish with back-to-school matters first).
Next week the latter one will either translate to the former or will graduate to “Hakuna pesa” (We are broke, after the back-to-school shopping). Welcome to the predictable life of the Kenyan buyer. Lamentations of being broke will likely abound across January.
Sales people that buy into this, “Bado mapema” mantra struggle with jump-starting their selling batteries, the more post their holidaying.
This costly mistake wastes precious time. So what to do? Invest in back office staff. This gem of advice was shared last week but cannot be reiterated enough. Back office staff are the unsung heroes of the sale — the ones who ‘go through hell’ to deliver the heaven you promised. They are the ones that will toil to install the solar panelling in the housing estate while you pitch to the next developer.
So, in addition to sharing freebies with them, instead of your friends and relatives, and wasted an opportunity to nurture a business relationship, ask insightful questions that show that you respect and acknowledge their role. (Yes, they serve an indispensable purpose.) “I really want this application to go through. How would you want me to present it to make your work easier?”
Next, detach paperwork completion from cash payment. Fine, the client says, “Hakuna pesa” to buy right now. The average seller interprets this to mean, “I can’t sell.” The progressive one doesn’t. “That’s OK”, he explains. “We don’t need money right now. Let’s just complete the paperwork. Here, let me have your ID I make a copy.” This is called a partial close. It can be accompanied by post-dated cheques with an agreement to confirm with the seller before banking or, agreement to revisit matters payment in February. Whatever the agreement, the sale is already taxing on the runaway not wasting away at the hangar.
Another non-cash activity could be collecting data to inform an upcoming presentation.
Successful business-to-business (B2B) sales (like the estate solar panelling) are usually won (as with any sale really) by aligning the pitch to the client need. The B2B sale though is much more complex.
Many times the buyers back office won’t be the one pitching for the procurement for services and yet are the ones that understand the nitty-gritty of the solar panel installation, for instance. For a sale you are eyeing, ask to spend time with their technicians to help you give an informed presentation for their consideration.
None of these investments will pay immediate cash dividend but they will certainly get your selling juices flowing. Further, as with all solid investments, the cash will come gushing in the course of the year.