Helping prospects speed up their buying decisions faster is good for everyone. The prospect starts profiting from the product days, weeks, or even months earlier. The salesperson’s time is freed up to work on additional deals, helping them exceed quota and boost their company’s revenue. And everyone gets to spend fewer hours on the phone, in meetings, and writing emails.
It’s not always easy to speed up the process when buyers are dragging their feet. Fortunately, these five strategies will help reps get every deal over the finish line in less time.
1) Stick to the Sales Process
Some salespeople attempt to reach the negotiation stage more quickly by cutting corners in their sales process. But in most cases, taking shortcuts will actually elongate decision making.
For example, if the rep doesn’t delve into her prospect’s objectives and needs during discovery, her presentation will lack the detail and customization it needs to be truly effective. Instead of deciding to buy that day, the prospect might request a week to think it over.
Or perhaps the salesperson doesn’t take the time to research and connect with other members of the buying committee besides her point of contact. While she might save time upfront, it’ll be more difficult for her prospect to get buy-in from his peers. They may slow down or even block the decision.
The takeaway: If a certain step is part of the sales process, there’s a good reason for it. Unless the buyer gets on the phone ready to commit that day, salespeople should stick to the playbook.
2) Consistently Communicate What Happens Next
Buyers often feel overwhelmed by the scope, length, and complexity of a purchasing decision. Salespeople should put prospects at ease and create momentum by making the process seem more manageable and always providing a clear, relatively simple next step. When prospects sense a competent, experienced person is leading, they’ll be more comfortable following a lead.
Take a look at the right and wrong way to frame a next step:
Wrong: “If you’re interested in learning more, please let me know when you have the chance.”
Right:“I have some suggestions on how you can implement [strategy]. Are you free tomorrow at 11 a.m. to discuss them?”
Wrong: “You mentioned this week was pretty busy. What are you thinking in terms of next steps?”
Right: “Let’s talk about an implementation plan next Monday. Can you meet any time after 2 p.m.?”
The second versions don’t require buyers to make complicated decisions or take initiative in an area about which they know little. All the prospects need to do is say “yes” or “no.” Consequently, they decide more quickly.
3) Use Upfront Contracts
Creating an “upfront contract” helps reps set expectations and involve prospects in the decision making process, according to Sandler Training.
If the prospect knows exactly what to expect, they’ll be far less reluctant to enter the next stage of the conversation.
Here’s a sample upfront contract: “I’ll show you three ways our product could improve the way you handle shipping at Dirigible. If you like what you hear, then we can set up another meeting between you, me, and your manager. Does that sound good?”
At the end of the call, the rep might ask, “What are your thoughts on the use cases we covered today?” If the prospect responds positively, the salesperson would respond, “Then as we agreed, the next step is having you, me, and your manager meet to discuss the product’s benefits for Dirigible. Would next Wednesday work?”
4) Create Urgency in an Unexpected Way
Many reps use the same formula for inciting urgency in a prospect: Establish his goals and identify his pain points, then explore the negative consequences of inaction and the benefits of change.
Although this technique can be highly effective, it doesn’t help the buyer see why he should choose this specific product or work with this specific salesperson. There’s a strong likelihood he’ll go with the competition or solve the issue in-house.
To speed up the prospect’s process while leading them toward her product, the salesperson should focus on “the shift.”
“Kick off a sales presentation … by naming the undeniable shift in the world that creates both big stakes and huge urgency for your prospect,” explains strategic messaging expert Andy Raskin.
Raskin says starting with “the shift” is preferable to starting with the prospect’s problem for two reasons.
“When you assert that your prospects have a problem, you put them on the defensive,” he argues. “They may be unaware of the problem, or uncomfortable admitting they suffer from it.”
Highlighting a shift, on the other hand, grabs buyers’ attention and helps them see opportunities. That puts reps in the ideal position to explain how their product will help buyers take full advantage of the shift, while doing nothing will result in an undesirable future.
They’ll be eager to pull the trigger as soon as possible so they can fully leverage the shift.
5) Limit the Amount of Information You Provide
If offering two use cases is good, reps might assume offering four use cases is better. But throwing tons of information at prospects is a bad idea -- even if every detail in isolation might convince them to buy.
The buyer can’t fully appreciate a benefit or feature of the product without time to absorb and digest what the salesperson is saying. The rep’s messaging loses its impact when it’s presented all at once, and the buyer takes longer to decide whether to move forward while he sorts through the flood of facts he’s just learned.
Reps should focus on quality, not quantity. Instead of presenting six different ways their offering will improve their prospects’ lives, they should pick the three most relevant or compelling. Rather than sending buyers several testimonials or case studies, salespeople should look for the testimonial or case study featuring the company or situation most similar to the specific prospect.
Brevity also applies to emails. Prospects rarely respond quickly to long, detailed messages. On the contrary, they usually postpone replying until they’ve “got more time,” which could be anywhere from one week later to never.