When a basketball coach draws up a play in the closing seconds of a game, and then watches his team execute the play just as he drew it in the huddle, that’s gotta be an exciting moment.
I had my business example of this occur recently, when a prospect’s buyer journey played out “just as I drew it in the huddle”.
As part of our teleprospecting strategy, one of our objectives is to “short circuit the RFP.” We want our content to help us get out in front of the buying process – knowing that today buyers are on average 70% of the way through their buying process when they engage with a sales rep. To do this we position the teleprospecting team as leading a set of expert resources who help customers get educated on issues and get best prepared for their projects.
An RFP (Request for Proposal) is a means of procuring services where the prospect reaches out to multiple vendors for bids – which leads to price discounts, procurement negotiation, delayed processes and frankly is usually inefficient for both the customer and the vendors. To avoid this outcome, the goal of the teleprospecting program is that our educational materials build such credibility with the prospect that they see no value in an RFP and want to immediately move to working with our company and leveraging our products/services.
And on this day, the scenario played out that way.
After a program of nurturing emails, anchored by educational content, our teleprospecting rep received the below email back to her. I’ve abridged it and changes names to “protect the innocent.”
From: Kenny Lightyear (Kenny@InsuranceCo.com)
Sent: Thursday, February 27, 2014 6:38 AM
Subject: Information Advocate
Thanks for your numerous messages and patience – sorry it took so long to get back to you.
…. He goes on to introduce himself and explain that they are a new company that recently split off from a larger organization….
One component that will be critical for us will be an XYZ solution.
At some point in the near future, we’ll be sending out a forma RFP to your company and others. However, I would like to take up your offer to talk about XYZ solutions is general. This isn’t an area that I have much experience in.
The best time for me is next Wednesday, any time after noon EST. If that doesn’t work, suggest some other times and I will do my best to accommodate.
What was amazing about this email message:
- Having never spoke to Michelle before or worked with our company, he started off the message by thanking her for her patience and numerous message – it shows the approach and content of the messages were valuable as he perceived them as positive touches, and not disruptive.
- He then apologized for the delay in getting back to her – prospective buyers are increasingly busy, and a lack of response does not necessarily mean a lack of interest – teleprospectors and salespeople need to remember this!
- He states a need which aligns to our products, and acknowledges that the path they were headed on is the RFP
After a conversation, he agreed to take a meeting with a salesperson – positioned as a specialist. This occurred one week after his initial email was sent, on 3/6. Key highlights from that conversation:
- He stated a project was likely going to occur in late Q2
- He detailed his business and technical requirements, which aligned to our product
- He stated this time that he may issue an RFP, or he may skip it, “not sure”
Fast forward less than one month – this Insurance company became a customer by the first week in April, for a near six figure deal (which is 4x the average order value).
We did in fact, short circuit the RFP. We went from “we are going to do an RFP” to “we may be doing an RFP” to “No RFP, we’re going with you guys.”
Call it “content driven, teleprospecting enabled buyer acceleration.” Just like we drew it up in the huddle.