According to the sales consulting firm The Result Source "80% of all B2B sales happen more than 12 months after the initial contact". Therefore your business development efforts really need to focus on the cultivation of relationships and nurturing your leads. You have to look for ways to create business friendships with everyone you meet and have consistent and meaningful interactions with your prospects.
You cannot expect meeting someone at a networking event or placing a cold call to turn into business. Sure, there are times when you hit someone at just the right time when they need your product or service, but the reality is that most people do not wake up in the morning dreaming of your call.
Look at your own life. How do you feel when a stranger tries to sell something to you that you did not want? Yet, what if a trusted friend has a product or service that you realize that you now need? Why are your prospects any different from you?
I recently set an appointment with a prospect whom took my cold call. He was a very nice guy who was very gracious. He was curious about my company's services, but did not have a current need. I asked him a lot of questions to qualify his organization's current situation, and was not able to find anything that connected with him at this time, however did uncover the potential for major growth in twenty-four months that would make him an ideal prospect.
Was this sales call a failure? Nope. It was the opportunity to meet an executive with a dynamic company and to establish the foundation for ongoing communication. While two years is a long time with no guarantee that he will ever purchase, one never knows what success could await his company or where he will end up in the future.
I followed up with a short handwritten note letting him know what a pleasure it was to meet him and offered myself up as a resource for him in the future. From here it is up to me to continue to ping him with meaningful information and to establish a real relationship. If his company does reach its milestones, it would be a "no-brainer" for him to do business with me in the long run.
Too many people get caught up in short term needs and miss the chance to establish their future. While a sense of urgency and reaching immediate goals is important, they should not totally eclipse the reality of the time involved to establish trusted adviser status with prospects.
This is why networking is so important. Since you cannot know everyone in the world and will never create close friendships with each potential client years in advance, having a large circle of referral sources who will know when their contacts need you will expedite your being in the right place at the right time!
Have A Great Day.