Everyone wants a shorter sales cycle, yet too many sellers find themselves stuck in time pot holes or getting lost in a confusing route. Isn’t it time to steer sales communications – yes, oral and written – around those road blocks and steer sales and buy cycles down Easy Street?
Let’s take one example – the Next Step.
How many times do prospects tell us to give them time to review materials/talk to the boss/go over the proposals, etc. They say “Call me next week.” More often than not when you call on your own time, the call rolls over to voice mail. Cue the sad music. Maybe, the prospect calls back. Yay! Only to get voice mail. Groan. Or she forgets. Double groan. Then, the seller gets busy on other opportunities and forgets to call back. Tag you’re it. No, now you’re it. Next thing you know, two weeks have gone by and you are no closer to closure then before. You’re lost.
But, you have played a fine game of phone tag.
Do yourself a favor: take an easier course down Easy Street:
1) Together with your prospect talk about and document the sequence of events that will take you from where you are today to your prospect implementing/buying your offering.
2) As you complete each step, confirm the date and time for the next step. If a conversation needs to take place, offer alternatives. “Are you available Tuesday at 9:00 AM or Wednesday at 3:00 PM for our next step?”
Notice, we are not asking her in an open-ended fashion when next week she has time to talk. This subtlety is important. By offering up alternatives FIRST, you are showing that you are a busy, important person. You have lots of opportunities because your offering is THAT good. And that means you don’t have an empty schedule. Compare that to the sales person who is available any time next week. He may be too hungry, signaling others don’t want what he’s selling.
Now, If you start getting a bad vibe that your prospect feels this is an overly aggressive tactic, explain yourself: a) acknowledge that the two of you are busy professionals and although tag may be a fun kids’ game, phone tag is not; and b) share that you are working on your organizational skills and by scheduling your next conversation, she is helping you serve her needs and yours at the same time.
The hard-scheduled next step will also help you qualify your opportunity. A buyer who is genuinely interested in your stuff will be glad you are taking charge of the opportunity and scheduling the next conversation. It helps her stay on her buying process.
Conversely, a buyer who resists hard scheduling your follow up, should make your spider sense tingle.
Is she really interested in what I have to offer?
Does she have enough authority to move to the next step in her buying process?
You really want to know the answers to these questions if she hesitates. If you don’t, you may end up spending a lot of time/energy/money on an opportunity that’s really a dead-end.
So, please take this simple route down Easy Street to shorter sales cycles. Hard schedule you next steps. You and your prospects will enjoy the ride.