Responsiveness & Sales Success: Joined at the Hip
By Andy Paul August 20, 2012
Responsiveness—n., the quality of quickly and effectively reacting to challenges and changing conditions; an essential element in any successful sales effort.
Unfortunately, most companies and sales people don’t realize that their sales success hinges on this very element: responsiveness. In today’s rapidly evolving markets, both for products and services, companies must quickly learn new ways to differentiate themselves from their competitors. It’s not about what you sell, but how you sell it in order to create value, develop credibility and build trust with your prospects, while differentiating yourself from the competition and winning more orders in less time.
The key to this sales-based differentiation is to incorporate absolute responsiveness into every step of your selling process. Absolute responsiveness in selling is composed of two specific components that marry to produce improved sales results and satisfied customers.
Responsiveness = Information Content + Speed.
This formula for responsiveness gives you the means to provide your prospect or customer with the complete information they need to make an informed purchase decision in the shortest time possible.
It is not enough to just be fast. An incomplete answer to a prospect’s question is the same as not responding at all. Your prospect won’t move forward in their buying cycle with incomplete information.
Similarly, it is not enough to be thorough and slow. A complete answer to a customer’s question that is provided too slowly means that you are wasting the customer’s time and leaving yourself exposed to a competitor.
To break these concepts down a bit, “information content” is composed of two parts. The first part is precisely that data or information that will completely answer your prospect’s questions and enable them to progress to the next step in their buying process. Offering a complete, concise answer to an initial prospect inquiry is the essential first step in the fundamental chain of being responsive.
The second part of “information content” is the data and information prospects and customers need that will help create the overall context for the decision they have to make. For instance, an informed buyer may need to know where technology is evolving in your product segment, not only for you but also your competition. They may need to know what their competitors have done or are doing with similar products. They may need to have a more complete understanding of what products will be coming to market in the near future that could impact their competitive position if adopted by a competitor first.
Speed, obviously, is the time it takes to provide the required answers to the customer. Using the same logic as with information content, if your prospect or customer has a question, it needs to be answered in Zero-Time.
Why is responsiveness important? Chances are good that you sell in a market where product differentiation is expensive and difficult to maintain. Innovative products and services are quickly copied and commoditized in a rush to market by a myriad of competitors. If the product(s) you sell, and all your competitors sell, are largely the same in the eyes of your prospects, how do you stand out? How can you reliably distinguish yourself from everybody else? As an absolutely responsive seller you will demonstrate to your customer that the experience of working with you and your company is different from the others, and in the process, develop a level of credibility and trust that will result in winning orders.
Responsiveness is also essential to achieving and maintaining customer satisfaction and generating repeat orders from your customers. A customer request for support after an order is nothing more than a question that needs to be answered in Zero-time; it should treated the same as a prospect request for information during pre-sale. Being absolutely responsive to your existing customers is the simplest way to guarantee repeat orders and protect your customer base from the competition.
In today’s marketplace, it’s not “what” you sell; it’s “how” you sell it. Responsiveness is the essential answer to the question “how.”
Andy Paul is author of the award-winning book, Zero-Time Selling: 10 Essential Steps to Accelerate Every Company’s Sales. A frequent speaker, Andy conducts workshops and consults with B2B sales teams of all sizes and shapes to teach them how to sell more by selling faster. Sign up for our monthly newsletter, “The Speed of Selling.” Enjoy what you just read? Subscribe to our blog!
© Andy Paul 2012