The more experienced I get in business the more I realize how important timing is with almost everything. I can’t tell you how many ideas I’ve heard about (or come up with myself) that were great ideas at the time, but failed because the market wasn’t ready for them.
Good Ideas, Bad Timing
My former company, Basho, developed an app that plugged into Salesforce and gave you insights/triggers on customers and contacts that you could directly input into pre-made, customizable templates and then track the effectiveness of them to give you insights on which triggers and messaging had the highest conversion ratios. It was basically Salesloft + InsideView + Nova.ai baked directly into Salesforce. I still believe it would rival some of the best sales tools out there today if it was still available. Unfortunately, they developed it in 2006 when the market wasn’t ready, so it died.
Uber wasn’t the first Uber. TaxiMagic & Halio pretty much changed how cabs were booked. They had to do the incredible task of installing custom hardware in cab fleets and get a bunch of the fragmented cab company market on board. This was a huge inhibitor to growth. It wasn’t until the market opened up and more efficient ways were developed to create a seamless experience between disparate vehicles, passengers and financial systems that Uber took off.
Timing in Sales
Timing isn’t just critical with business ideas, it’s also extremely critical in sales. Sales used to be a pure numbers game. Cold calling was basically about making as many calls as you could, saying the same thing over and over again to hopefully catch someone who needed what you had and didn’t know there was a solution like yours available. I remember making 400 dials a week with a generic elevator pitch selling outsourced IT services. It almost didn’t matter what my pitch was if I called and said “computer support” and you had problems with your computers I usually got a meeting.
It’s still somewhat of a numbers game, but it’s not just about how many dials you make anymore. It’s about doing the right amount of activities focused around a specific target audience with the goal of educating and getting them to think so when they finally make the connection and have a need for your solution, you’re the first person they think of. It’s also about using data to look for indicators about whether or not a prospect is in the market for our services so we can time our outreach to them.
I used to focus the majority of my training on a very specific e-mail approach called the “Why You Why You Now ™” e-mail approach developed by MJ Hoffman. It was about doing research on an account and finding a trigger (open new office, launch new product, M&A) and making the connection to how your service can help the company in that situation. It’s called “Why You Why You NOW” for a reason. The idea is to capitalize on the timing of the trigger and get someone to think about your solution as an option they might not have been considering. 4-5 years ago this approach worked like a charm, but now it’s been genericized and everyone is doing it so it’s not as effective.
Timing vs Execution
Now it’s not necessarily about any one specific e-mail or approach anymore. It’s about social selling, cadences, nurturing and something I’m starting to focus a lot of my attention on which is “intent data.” Intent data is all about measuring someone’s actual intent to buy based on their search activities. It goes beyond just scoring leads based on if they downloaded a white paper or visited your website. It’s about people who are specifically searching for solutions to problems.
Companies like TechTarget have thousands of landing pages that are indexed so when you search for a tech solution and land on one of their pages they can see exactly what you are searching for and then provide that data to people who have solutions that fit so they can reach out to them. G2 is all about intent data. It can’t tell you the exact name of the person who is searching for a specific type of service, but it can tell you the company name which gives you insight on who you should be calling and when. For instance, it can tell me every company that has searched for “sales training” reviews on G2 that fit my ideal customer profile. Then I can use that to research the account and send a timely e-mail or call that significantly increases my chances of getting a response based on the timing.
At the end of the day there is no silver bullet to make someone want or need your solution. However, by mixing up your contact strategy, staying active on social, adding value, and paying attention to intent data and buying triggers you give yourself the best chance to be there when they’re ready. Make it Happen.