The logic is unassailable. If you want to sell more, sell faster.
As you might expect, I read a lot about sales. And very few sales thought leaders write about the importance of speed in selling. I find this to be more than a bit mystifying because this is exactly what your customers want. Increasingly they want to be able to more quickly gather the information they need to make fully informed purchase decisions with the least investment of their time possible. (If this weren’t true, why are your customers all using the Internet as their default method of investigating and researching new products?)
A study by the research firm IDC found that IT buyers want to chop the length of their buying process by 30%. Why? The better question to ask is ‘Why not?’ Think of all the other profitable ways a customer could invest their time if they could compress their evaluation and purchase cycles by 30%.
Helping your prospects to make faster (and hopefully, favorable) decisions is a source of tangible value to them. This is not hand waving value of the kind that salespeople typically claim to provide. This is quantifiable, take-it-to-the-bank value for the customer that can be expressed in dollars and cents.
Selling faster doesn’t mean to cut corners. In fact, just the opposite is true. In order to sell faster, you have to be more disciplined in your approach to qualification, discovery, and all of your core sales processes. And you have to be more rigorous and disciplined in using metrics to manage, fine-tune and and accelerate your processes.
Chipotle is a company in the business of selling burritos. And they understand that their ability to increase their sales is not solely limited by how many people they attract to their doors. They have found that they can generate increased sales based on how quickly they help their customers make their decision, pay for their order and send them on their way to eat their food. They are defying the knee-jerk assumption that doing something faster will necessarily result in a degraded customer experience. In fact, they have learned that shrinking the amount of time that their customers have to spend with them is a way to increase satisfaction and build repeat business.
Which is just what your customers hope you will do for them. They don’t want to spend time with you. It’s nothing personal. They just have many other things that they need to do and spending time with a salesperson stands in their way of accomplishing them. Salespeople have a tendency to think that they need to maximize the amount of face time they have with a customer in order to increase their share of mind with the decision-maker. In fact, the opposite is often true. The way you maximize your share of mind with the customer is to have them identify you as the resource that can help them make great decisions faster.
Here are 3 simple steps you can take right now to sell faster:
1. Follow up everything immediately.
If you get a sales lead, an inquiry from a prospect or a question from an existing customer, follow up immediately. Every minute that you delay in following up works against you. You never want to keep a prospect waiting for you. That means that you are wasting their time.
Create metrics that set expectations for your follow up. How long should it take to respond to a lead? How long should it require to respond to a customer question?
2. Be 100% responsive
It is not enough just to follow up quickly. You also have to provide the answer or information that the prospect needs. And you need to provide it in one call, one email or one voice mail. Making prospects wait while you dribble information out to them slows down their decision-making. A quick follow up that is without content is a waste of the customer’s time.
You have to train your prospects to expect to receive something of value from you each time you communicate with them. Scrutinize every potential sales interaction to ensure that it meets that standard for responsiveness.
3. Make a plan for every sales interaction
Selling is about preparation. Not improvisation. Every sales touch, no matter how big or small, needs a plan so that you know exactly how you are going to utilize the customer’s time. What information or insights are you going to provide in that touch that will move the customer at least one step forward in their buying process?
Look at every planned sales interaction from the perspective of the buyer and ask yourself if it will achieve the goals you’ve established and produce the outcomes you desire.
Andy Paul is author of Amp Up Your Sales: Powerful Strategies That Move Customers To Make Fast, Favorable Decisions and Zero-Time Selling: 10 Essential Steps to Accelerate Every Company’s Sales. A sought-after speaker and business coach, Andy conducts workshops, coaches and consults with CEOs and sales teams to teach them how to maximize the value and power of their selling to rapidly increase their sales.
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© Andy Paul 2014