Are you spending too much time selling and not enough managing your team, projects or designing?
If you are finding sales are lower than you want or you’re spending too much precious time selling, you are probably the victim of a sluggish sales cycle.
If you only have a limited amount of time to sell then you risk:
- not hitting your targets; or
- you hit your targets but spend so much time doing it that you miss out on other things you should be focusing on (like family, friends sports etc).
You need to streamline your sales process and implement lean selling. There are three steps to streamline your sales process and bring in higher quality clients that you can quickly put in place.
Lean Selling For Design
If lean selling sounds too much like diet food or one of those grim “food” supplements don’t panic. Lean selling is a derivative of lean manufacturing, originated by Toyota in their quest for excellence and efficiency.
The focus of lean selling is on delivering value to the potential client at every step. It is not about the product or service but the real inherent value.
We should all focus on customer service, but what about the service we offer a lead before they become a customer? In design, this is often part of the initial discovery phase. Help your client understand what the end result of the “product” we deliver is. What the purpose of the branding, website, marketing collateral is from the client’s perspective and the real, material, intrinsic and financial return you deliver on their investment.
When a buyer is confused they tend to either not buy at all, or go for the low cost/low risk commodity option. Lean selling is a perfect fit with selling design. It allows you to naturally and efficiently move from a commodity (99 Designs) to a highly valuable service (at a premium rate) because we cut through the buyer’s confusion.
As designers, when we fail to clearly communicate value, we confuse the buyer, who then opts for a simpler commodity-based design solution instead.
Here are three steps to evolve to your sales process for a leaner selling system.
- Qualify your leads more thoroughly. This reduces the time ‘wasted’ on leads that are a poor fit It speeds up the buying cycle because they are a good fit and say “Yes” more quickly. (What makes a good fit? **)
- Manage your sales pipeline by having minimum AND maximum numbers of leads at any point. By controlling the number of buyers in progress you don’t get over stretched (maximum) nor are you at risk of missing your sales targets (minimum).
- Treat sales as a service. Because we don’t get paid to sell we are too often afraid to give away too much for no guaranteed of a return. Think about how you can align the goals of the buyer with your goals. Have open discussions, define ideal outcomes and the need for role reversals during the design process as you lead them on design and they lead you on their business and customer needs. Think of selling as coaching a buyer rather than an adversarial “Us versus Them” confrontation.
Selling isn’t easy and all too often we let buyers come to us rather than taking the initiative and taking the selling to them.