by Terry Ledden - Sandler Training
Age matters. Getting sales decisions done is much like collecting on overdue accounts. The longer they "age," your probability of collecting drops like a stone. Unnecessarily protracted sales cycles kill productivity. They tie up resources and lead to to false revenue expectations.
If you're up against ever increasing competition and deals are taking longer to conclude, try these three tips to drive increased revenue velocity: (Warning some of these may be contrary to popular opinion!)
1. Go for "NO"
Yes, that's right ... go for no. Instead of trying to convince (sell), use questions to validate (challenge) prospect interest. How committed are they to address the problem, pain, frustration, opportunity? Nice to do, interesting or a necessity. Get answers to the underlying WHY??? questions. Focus on the WHAT (you'd do) and HOW (you'd do it) stuff later. Only once YOU are convinced the deal is "real" based on validated, underlying compelling reasons shared with you be the prospect (not you convincing them), should you consider investing time, effort resources. on the WHAT and HOW. Remember, return on time invested. Is this one a dead-end or an on-ramp to revenue?
2. OK to End It!
If this pursuit is tracking to an ultimate dead-end, when would you want to know that? Sooner or later? And if you knew that sooner, what would you do about it? Intellectually, logically we'd all say "End it!", get out now, cut your losses. Problem though is that sales too often degenerates into an emotional game ... on both sides, seller and buyer. Buyers find it emotionally difficult to deliver negative news. One, they fear sales retaliation in the form of "objection handling," more pressure and convincing and that's not a conversation they look forward to. Two, no matter their integrity, religious conviction, all buyers know that it's perfectly OK to lie to sales people, string them along and you'll still make it into heaven! After all, they're just another "vendor." And, salespeople become needy, don't have enough other business to fall back on and can't walk away, emotionally.
Driving ROTI (Return on Time Invested) and collapsing sales cycles is predicated on our ability to get to the truth early, up front. We need to change the game early, up front. Have a frank, honest, no nonsense up front conversation with prospects that's it's OK to end it, at any time. Get an up front commitment (social contract) with them that after every conversation let's make a decision to "end it" or agree where to next.
3. ACT it - Feel it!
If you felt independently wealthy, how would you ACT in front of non-committal prospects who were consuming your time, energy and resources in situations that were going nowhere (you're being bench-marked to validate a decision already made, they're using you for free consulting, or they want a more competitive price to drive their existing providing into concessions to keep the business as an example). How would you ACT in those situations?
OK, so maybe you're not independently wealthy. How are you feeling? Desperate, under the gun, threatened, pressured?
To successfully leverage 1 & 2 above, no matter how you FEEL, you'll need to ACT in a manner that conflicts with how you might be feeling. To quote Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life, in his Daily Hope message says, "Have you also noticed that it’s easier to act your way into a feeling than it is to feel your way into an action?" Rick goes on to say that if you start to ACT differently, how you FEEL will eventually line up with how you act. We see that all time in our training as our clients push the "comfort zone" and challenge themselves into higher levels of performance.
So, drive your ROTI (Return On Time Invested). Collapse your sales cycles by GOING FOR NO, make it OK TO END IT, and ACT like you feel it.