An Unconventional Idea for Accelerating Sales Cycles
A simple suggestion for sales reps – Answer your prospect’s question before he or she thinks to ask the question. This approach results in three benefits:
- Builds Trust
- Accelerates Sales Cycles
- Increases Close Rates
This approach is counter to conventional thinking, so let’s explore how business buyers’ behavior is changing and why this would be a winning strategy in today’s world.
Our role model could be Radar O’Reilly, a character in the American TV show “M*A*S*H”. The show is about a field hospital unit during the Korean War. Radar works for the Colonel who runs the hospital unit and always answers the Colonel’s question before the Colonel asks the question. Here is a clip from Radar showing this behavior during the show:
Let’s look at it from the buyer’s perspective:
1. Buyers want to go faster – Sales people are often frustrated as they feel that their prospects are getting distracted and slowing things down. Good news, surfaced by IDC research, is that buyers say they want to go faster with a goal of reducing sales cycles by 40%. Their perception is that the sales person is a big contributor to the slow down.
2. Bigger buying teams – Your key contacts during the sale are dealing with bigger buying teams; the average has grown to 14 people up from 10 a few years earlier (again IDC data.) Your contact is getting bombarded with questions by those teammates. To keep the buying process moving (and your sales process,) they need to respond to any of their colleagues’ questions. If you can have them armed with answers prior to the questions, you can help them to keep the momentum. Picture how many steps can be removed in the sales process by helping meetings reach closure as compared to needing a lot of “getbacks.”
3. Champion in Control – Often there are one or two champions who are collaborating with you to help drive the process. If you make them look good, they earn the respect of the buying team. They will appreciate your support in helping them be informed.
4. Make yourself indispensable – The sales experience is the most important factor in a buyer’s decision. Yes, according to CEB research, it is more important than (1) company and brand impact, (2) product and service delivery (3) value to price ratio – COMBINED. Being the source of information makes you indispensable, especially if you are like Radar O’Reilly, answering it before they even contemplate the question.
Buyers move through three basic stages in their process:
1. See the problem
2. Commit to a solution path
3. Plan out the change
In each stage you have a good feel for the key questions they need to address. You can easily point out these questions to them and help them to get comfortable that they are not missing something. Also, if you start to share ideas and thoughts on the next phase they are going to move into, you build a bridge in their mind and help them think about moving from one phase to the next.
Do you think this unconventional approach will work? Are you a Radar O’Reilly fan?