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The death of the bluebird

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This would be the perfect way to start a new year: You need a win for a fast sales start. The phone rings, and it’s a prospect inquiring about a product that is the in the exact center of your wheelhouse. And it’s a big sale. You feel as if you’re quickly establishing good rapport, and the prospect invites you to present your firm’s capabilities.

You meet and present yourself and your firm masterfully. You quickly come to terms, and the deal is yours. Congratulations! You’ve captured a bluebird.

Now ask yourself “When was the last time you caught a sales bluebird?” For those of you who haven’t caught a bluebird yet, don’t keep holding your breath. Nowadays the odds of closing a sale that comes out of nowhere are worse than buying a winning lottery ticket. Buyers now fully control the buying cycle and don’t need salespeople to meter information to them. They know they have problems, they know other firms have similar problems and they have the ability to research possible solutions through the Internet. In fact, as much as 60 percent to 70 percent of the buying process is invisible to the seller and only becomes visible when a buyer requests information. The real question is how to stay visible to the buyer during all buying phases? The answer is to reach out and be found.

Reaching out can be a fairly simple process:

  1. Develop a target audience list.
  2. Use technology to track and score behavior.
  3. Provide prospects with high value information, not sales messages.

All three of these items seem simple but require an investment of time and money, especially the development of content that prospects will look forward to receiving. (Sales messages turn off prospects, so be careful.)

Being found can be tough. Look at the websites of your biggest competitors to see how yours compares. Is your site easy to navigate and built to leverage SEO? Are you using appropriate key words? Do you provide free value-added content? 

The real answer is that if you have not recently reviewed and updated the structure and text of your website now is a great time to do so. Most firms can’t afford to retain full-time web programmers and graphics specialists but there are plenty of excellent consulting shops you can employ.

Embrace today’s buying process rather than fighting it. Sales bluebirds are becoming extinct, but if you adapt to the new sales environment, you can still succeed. Take time to better understand the fundamentals of today’s buying process to determine how you can best capture success.

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Dan Hudson is the co-founder and president of 3forward and has a B2B sales and sales leadership background of more than 30 years. He can be reached at [email protected].