By Andy Paul
Here are three sales thoughts to gnaw on instead of daydreaming at your desk or frittering away valuable selling time by updating your Facebook status.
1. What can I do for the customer right now, this minute, today, that will have the maximum sales impact in the least time possible?
2. What can I do today that will create value for the customer and differentiate my company and product from the competition?
3. What information does the customer still require from me in order to make an informed purchase decision in the least time possible?
Sales success requires you to think continually about the opportunities you’re pursuing. I tell this to all my clients and to all the salespeople I’ve managed. . Unfortunately, I believe that most salespeople mentally “lock away” their prospects when they leave work. They next time they think about the prospect is when they return to the office.
The most successful salespeople I know are always, at some level, ruminating about the deals they have in the works. They have a command of all the details of every sales opportunity and let them tumble around in the back of their mind, searching for the winning strategy and tactics. They don’t have an “off” switch.
What makes selling so much fun is that it can be a challenging intellectual pursuit. It requires creativity and flexibility of thought to adapt sales strategies and tactics to real-time changing conditions.
Why is this important? Start with the fact that buying isn’t a linear process. You can make a detailed account plan for a sales opportunity, but the buying process changes with each step the customer takes. You can have a plan, consisting of steps 1 through 6, that you believe will take you through the customer’s buying process. But then, as soon as the customer has completed step 1, the situation will probably change and make your plans moot.
Think of the customer’s buying process in terms of Heisenberg’s famous principle of uncertainty. Heisenberg was able to prove through experimentation that the act of observing a process necessarily changes the outcome. I believe that the same is true in sales. The completion of each step in a customer’s buying process influences the customer’s requirements and decision criteria moving forward.
Salespeople who mentally lock away their customers at the end of the day probably won’t notice these changes. If they see sales and buying cycles as static processes that proceed in a linear fashion from Point A to Point B, they’ll lose out to the salesperson who recognizes the vagaries and flexibility of those cycles.
A client of mine once had a salesperson named Ty. Ty was a veteran salesman and had a good rapport with customers. But he didn’t store any details of his sales opportunities in his head. He was an avid user of the company’s CRM—customer relationship management—system, though, which contained every bit of data he needed about his customers and was easily accessible on his laptop. But because all the information he needed was available in the CRM system, poof! it disappeared from his mind. He couldn’t recall details about his accounts without referring to the CRM system, and he wondered why he was always in reactive mode with his prospects and customers. Ty thought sales was an open-book test. It doesn’t work that way.
If your sales opportunities aren’t always percolating in your mind, instantly accessible, you’re going to lose sales to someone else.
Andy Paul is author of the award-winning book, Zero-Time Selling: 10 Essential Steps to Accelerate Every Company’s Sales. A sought-after speaker and business coach, Andy conducts workshops and consults with sales teams of all sizes to teach them how to use responsiveness, speed and intelligent processes to increase sales. Enjoy what you just read? Sign up for our regular digest of valuable Zero-Time Selling sales tips and strategies, “Selling with Maximum Impact.”
© Andy Paul 2013