If you’ve sold in the B2B space for any amount of time, you know that there’s this moment. You’re talking to the prospect, the switch flips in your head, and you think, “I’ve got them.” You know, with a high degree of certainty, that you’re going to win that business. It may take days, weeks, or months before you actually get the order, but you know from that point forward, you’re in first place and it’s yours to lose. That’s the moment sales acceleration specialist Andy Paul calls “winning the sale.” The question is, how do you get there?
In an interview with Andy, he told us more about winning the sale. The premise of the concept is that there’s an explosion of competitors in almost every market and an unrelenting pace of technological innovation combined with lowered barriers of entry for companies. As a consequence, when people are looking for a product or service, they look out at countless vendors whose messaging is all identical.
If you’re a sales rep or team in that environment, how do you stand out? Here are Andy’s two big ideas.
1) Deliberate, Mindful Selling
The buyer gives you their time: what are you giving them in return? If they’re not getting a worthwhile ROI, they’re going to stop investing time in you. It’s that simple.
Research was famously done by Nobel-prize winning economist Herbert Simon about how busy people decide to allocate slices of their time throughout the day. It’s really an economic decision: I’m going to give my time to those pursuits that will give me the biggest return for that investment.
The same thing is true for sales. Even during the first call, you have to think about what value you’re delivering to the prospect that’s going to help them move one step further in the buying process. Sales reps and managers must map out an account plan before every touch.
For example, in Andy’s book Zero-Time Selling, he talks about “killer questions.” When you lead with questions, instead of talking about yourself, prospects open up and you build a rapport.
Those killer questions should force the prospect to think and should demonstrate insight into their needs/challenges/aspirations. By using questions, the solution you come up with is collaborative, because they’re working through it with you.
Imagine that a customer researches you online, reaches out, and says he wants a sales rep to call him. No one calls back for a day, or two, or three. That’s such a missed opportunity.
On the other hand, if you get back to them after five or ten minutes, before they speak to your competitors, you’ve sent a message—about yourself, about how you value their time, about what it will be like to work with you as opposed to someone else.
The powerful thing about responsiveness is that you’re not dependent on anybody else to be responsive. It’s all on you, and while this is a great responsibility, it also heightens trust when you come through.
Andy had a client that he went in and assessed. He told them, “You’re spending so much money generating leads, but nobody’s responding for three or four days.” They’d tried to fix it, but hadn’t been able to.
“We can fix this in five minutes,” Andy said. He walked the CEO to a sales admin’s office and said, “This is Julie. Effective immediately, all leads will go to Julie. She’s going to enter them into your CRM system and assign them to sales reps. What you’re going to do is log on every day at 4 p.m. and make sure they were all followed up.”
And he cured the problem that same day.
The company became so responsive that they got to a 30-minute follow-up on every single lead that came in. When they were following up that soon, they took those prospects off the market.
You’ll notice, with both of these ideas, that you don’t have to overturn the entire system. Most of what you need is in place; you just have to adjust a few things.
That’s good because you’re just like your prospects. You won’t spend your time on something unless you get a good return on that investment.
Believe me, you will.
This post is based on an interview with Andy Paul, author of Zero-Time Selling: 10 Essential Steps to Accelerate Every Company’s Sales.