Paul lays out how to shorten the lead time from initial contact to closing.
Make sure you are communicating directly with the person who has the money and can say yes to your solution. Don’t rely on a middleman to sell your solution for you.
Amidst all their other commitments and priorities, you must remind the customer of the need for your solution.
When a buyer feels more pressure to buy your solution, that will speed up the timeline.
Create a gap between the buyer’s needs and the competitor’s solution.
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How do I accelerate the sales process?
(Transcribed from podcast)
On today’s episode, we’re going to answer the question. How do I accelerate the sales process? And really what we’re talking about here is shortening the lead time from the moment you interact with the prospect all the way up until that point where you bring that contract home. So that’s what we’re going to focus on in today’s show.
Before we answer this question, just a reminder—you can pick up your copy of Selling Through Tough Times, available on Amazon, available at Barnes & Noble, wherever you get your books. In fact, one of the things we talk about in Selling Through Tough Times is how a buyer will sometimes hit the pause button. They try to slow down the process as they face uncertainty. And we offer several tips and ideas in the book on how you can help accelerate their decision making—get them to move quicker. So, pick up your copy.
So let’s get back to the question: How do I accelerate the sales process? This could be one of the most frustrating aspects of sales, and that is when you meet with a prospect, you know that they have a need for your solution. You know that you can help them, but they just delay the process. The customer isn’t always ready to move forward right away when you’re ready to move forward. So it can be extremely frustrating. What we’re going to do today is, I’m going to share just a couple of thoughts and ideas.
The first thing I would recommend, to accelerate the process, you need to make sure that you are communicating directly with the person who has the money and the ability to say yes to your solution. That is absolutely critical. I know that in large complex sales, there is a tendency to have to go through multiple layers of decision makers until you ultimately get to the person who is going to say yes—I get that. But keep in mind that every time you meet with a key decision maker, and then they have to sell the idea to the person above them, the message can get watered down. And it’s not that the individual who’s trying to relay the information isn’t doing an adequate job. The problem is, you’re relying on someone to sell the solution for you, and that’s not the ideal spot to be. So, the key is, we want to make sure that, as quickly as possible, we’re getting in front of the people that can say yes to our solution.
Next thing. We’ve got to remember that our decision makers, they have different priorities. They’ve got other things going on in their business. And although selling our solution is our biggest priority, buying our solution isn’t necessarily their biggest priority. So here’s one thing that I would recommend. This is a common mistake that sellers make. When they go through an initial discovery process or they go through a needs analysis, we assume, as salespeople, that asking the right questions and uncovering their needs is going to be enough to get them to move forward. But the problem is, once we uncover their needs and we leave their office, or we hang up that phone call, they’ve got the rest of the world and all the problems and priorities waiting for them. And so what will happen is all of that goodwill that we just built by uncovering their needs and that self-discovery that takes place, that now gets buried under all the other priorities—the more pressing issues facing that company.
So the key is, at every interaction, at every single interaction and touch point with that decision maker, we need to remind them of the needs that we uncovered. We need to remind them of why this is a priority. So, the key is not only to prioritize your solution, but to reprioritize it every interaction. That means we’re reminding them of the need for your solution.
And going hand in hand with that, the next tip, is to make the buyer aware of the pressure that they are feeling. When we talk about pressure points, pressure points do a number of things. Number one, it can take the focus off of price. When a buyer feels more pressure to buy your solution, they’re less likely to focus on price. But when they’re also feeling pressure to buy your solution, that will speed up the timeline.
So I would go through and ask yourself, “Okay, what kind of pressure is this buyer experiencing?” You know, here we are, we’re towards the end of the year. Maybe they have budget dollars they need to spend before the end of the year. That’s a pressure point in your favor. Remind the buyer of that. Maybe they’re having common issues that are creating supply challenges. Remind them of that. Every time you can remind them of the pressure that they’re facing and then how you can relieve that pressure, you’re going to be able to speed up that sales cycle.
Now, the final tip. We need to establish the need for our solution. We need to establish the need for our solution. And this is a relatively simple process. We just need to make sure that we execute it flawlessly. And the key is asking the right questions. I’m going to talk about Value-Added Selling for a moment. I know in previous episodes we’ve been focusing on Selling Through Tough Times, and that, but in Value-Added Selling, we have a probing model, it’s called the S-C-P probing model. At a fundamental, basic level, all we’re doing with this probing model is, number one: we’re understanding our customers and prospects and we’re understanding their needs and the driving forces behind their needs. Then we’re understanding who our competitor is and how that competitor is satisfying that customer’s or prospect’s needs. And then, what we’re trying to do is we’re trying to create a gap between those two things. Think about this. You’ve got your customer who has their needs and expectations, and then they have a competitive solution that has attempted to satisfy those needs and expectations. Our goal is to create a gap between those two things.
And when we create a gap between those two things, that becomes our window of opportunity. So our goal is to ask questions to reveal what’s missing from their current solution or what the ideal solution could look like, and we’re comparing that to what they’re currently getting. And the bigger the gap between those two—between the buyer’s needs and expectations and what they’re currently doing—the greater the window of opportunity for us.
So, you know, in Value-Added Selling, we go through and explain not only how to ask those questions, but also the types of questions. And we give examples. And I would encourage you to read through that and to uncover some of those questions that you can ask your customer, because the right questions asked the right way at the right time—wow—that can change everything.
Those are a couple of tips. And you know what? I’m going to give you a bonus tip here. Many salespeople ask us, “Okay, we get that first deal—that all important first deal. How can we accelerate the time between the first deal and the second deal?” So, can we quickly get to that repeat order, that repeat business? Now, this is more of a defensive-selling technique—a defensive selling technique. So once you have that first deal and you deliver on all that value, there’s a series of steps we can go through that will help us secure that second deal and secure it in a quicker way.
So, two techniques I’m going to talk about are tinkering and value reinforcement. So let’s think about it. You close that first deal. You need to make sure that you create a smooth and seamless transition over to your solution. And you also need to make sure that you deliver on all the expectations that you have set. If you don’t do those two things correctly, your likelihood of getting another deal [is] going to be very slim. So make sure you cover that. In Value-Added Selling, we talk about the tinkering sales call. The tinkering sales call is when you go in and meet with your customer, and you’re not meeting with them with the intent to sell, you’re meeting with them with the intent to serve—with the intent to create value. You’re not going in there trying to close more deals. In fact, you’re just going in there trying to create more value. So, think of just a list of questions that you can ask your customer:
- Hey, how can we improve?
- How can we get better?
- What’s missing from our current solution?
- What would you like us to do different?
- How can we make it easier to do business with us?
These questions positively focus the conversation on how you can create more value. So that’s tinkering.
And once you tinker with your solution—when you enhance it, you augment it—you’re creating more value, the next thing you want to do, you want to reinforce that value. You want to remind the customer of all the value that you’ve delivered. Because customers are going to forget about it. But I just talked about this in the opening, how customers have different priorities. They’re not waking up every day thinking about how great your solution is. So instead, what we need to do is, we need to remind them of the value that we do deliver. So once we create more value, then we remind the customer of that value. The next thing we do is, we leverage that into additional opportunities, additional opportunities. And that’s the formula for accelerating from that first deal to that second deal. We create more value, we remind the customer of that value, and then we look for additional opportunities through leveraging.
Make it a big day.