As a sales professional, entrepreneur, or business owner, being able to effectively establish new client partnerships and increase sales results quickly is vitally important. But what do you do on those occasions when you find yourself stuck in sales quicksand, unable to get your prospects to move forward?
Answer: You take note of the following two points—time-tested strategies for effectively shortening your sales cycle.
1. Determine, uncover, and clarify challenges. When a prospect isn't clear about his challenges and the impact of these challenges, the entire sales cycle slows down as a consequence. The client doesn't yet believe his challenge is significant enough to require action…the end result of which being, he won't.
It is a waste of time for you to give information before understanding his needs, goals, challenges, and problems. In effect, you're presenting a solution to someone who doesn't believe he has a problem.
So, what do you do about this? Ask a lot of open-ended questions. Get curious, and don't assume you understand his problem or challenge, no matter how long you have been in the industry. Dig in, really find out what is going on, and ask follow-up questions focusing in on the greater impact of his challenges. Your questions will help them understand and verbalize that they have a challenge or problem.
2. Always set a clear next step. "Thanks for your time today. Your product looks great and we'll get back to you soon." Sounds familiar, right? And yet, you never hear back. Instead, you end up having to chase, follow up, make multiple calls, and send multiple e-mails…all to no avail. Not a lot of fun, either for you or for the prospective client.
How do you solve this? Well, a great salesperson or sales-minded business owner doesn't need to chase. You don't need to pressure or persuade. Really.
What you do need to do is set up a clear next step. If your prospect isn't ready to take that next step, he will tell you; that way, you'll be able to determine whether or not he's a serious prospect on the spot.
Remember, give your prospects an option to say no. When you do this, all the pressure is taken off of you—and more importantly, off of your prospect. That way, he doesn't feel like he's being sold, nor does he feel any pressure from you. Many sales coaches and coaching programs still teach decades-old techniques involving pressure and persuading. You don't need to do that anymore, and besides, it doesn't work.
Simply set up the next step at the end of your meetings. The next step could be a follow-up face-to-face meeting or a scheduled phone call. Whatever you choose, make sure that next step is moving the sales cycle forward and has a scheduled date, time, and location.
Better still, map out your entire sales cycle and decide what steps need to take place. For instance, here's what a five-step sales cycle might look like:
1. Initial appointment, qualification, and discovery.
2. Agreement to conduct an in-depth analysis.
3. Demonstration of the service or product.
4. Contract review meeting.
5. Signed agreement.
At the end of each meeting, you should be setting up the next meeting and next actions. Explain the next steps you both will need to take to start working together. Map it out for them and provide them with a simple document that explains the next steps, along with clear timelines. Ask them to commit to the next steps along the way.
Guess what happens if you do this effectively? You don't need to "close" or persuade. The sale will be made—faster, naturally, and more effectively.
The two steps described above will help you shorten your sales cycle and experience dramatically improved sales results. Don't wait to make these changes; take action now and make a commitment to yourself.
Jeremy J. Ulmer is a sales coach, business coach, and speaker. He can be contacted through his Website at www.CoachWithJeremy.com.