Poor performing sales people have the wrong objectives when selling to prospects.
When the sales cycle is long, they feel that doing things like sharing information, gathering information and putting calls in to strengthen the relationship is getting them towards an eventual close. Often it is not because the prospect isn’t expending any energy and they are not initiating any action.
When a salesperson offers to send the prospect information and they accept it, it fools the salesperson into thinking they are making progress when in reality they are not. Prospects will accept information from salespeople if it’s freely offered. Why wouldn’t they? However this does not move the sale forward in any meaningful way.
Having lovely chats with prospects and ‘checking in’ with them every few months to build the relationship also does nothing to advance the sale. In fact salespeople who spend little time building relationships and sending information usually beat these kinds of salespeople because they get the prospect to take some kind of meaningful action during the sales process.
Get your prospect to take action and expend energy
To predictably move the sale forward, your prospect must take some action and expend energy. By setting call or meeting objectives that involve action and energy on behalf of your prospect you will know how committed and serious they are about working with you.
If the prospect takes no action the sale is not advancing.
If the action the prospect takes requires little to no energy, again the sale is not advancing.
Examples of action and energy that advance the sale
- Share company statistics or research you have asked them for
- Arrange for you to speak with another decision maker
- Arrange to meet your account team
- Share sensitive information needed for evaluation
- Arrange a group meeting with their wider evaluation team to discuss the opportunity
All of these things require both action and energy on behalf of the prospect. Your goal is to start with small advances which require little energy and action and build to more significant ones as we progress through the sales process.
We like to be consistent
Why does action and energy work to advance the sale towards a close?
Because once we have committed to an idea or goal, either verbally or in writing we are strongly compelled to honour that commitment to remain consistent with that image. Once we accept small commitments we’re more willing to commit ourselves to larger ones towards being consistent towards a certain goal.
Once a prospect has agreed to take a step forward they are strongly compelled to remain consistent with that action and take another step and another and another. So build a sales process that has several small commitments built in that require some kind of action or energy and that will advance the sale towards a natural conclusion.