December 17, 2014

The Responsiveness Formula

abc-reduced-blueHe who hesitates is lost. The early bird catches the worm. You snooze you lose. There are a lot of ways to make the same point.

When it comes to sales effectiveness, speed is absolutely critical, but only when coupled with value-based information that helps your prospect move at least one step closer to making a decision. This combination is called responsiveness.

There is a simple equation for responsiveness: Responsiveness = Value + Speed. You can’t be responsive without speed. And, you can’t be responsive without information (no matter how fast you are.)

Recently, I was shopping online for a cloud-based business service. I spent a couple hours one morning researching the available services and narrowed my choice to one vendor that seemed to best fit my needs. However, I still needed the answers to a few questions before I could make my final decision. Of course, I couldn’t find a phone number for sales on their website. This should have raised a red flag warning. And, there was no Contact Me form to be found. But, I plunged ahead and spent another 10-15 minutes of my time to track down an email address for their sales department. When I found that I sent an email that contained five specific questions to which I needed an answer. I asked for someone in sales to call me. Within an hour I received an email response. Needless to say, I was encouraged. I like responsive salespeople. Until I read the email.

“Dear Andy, Thank you for your interest in XYZ, Inc. We are here to help you. Please let me know if you have any questions. Regards, Joe Smith”

Well, I did have questions. And, clearly, they didn’t care.

What good is a fast but incomplete response like this? None. XYZ, Inc. would have been better off not responding to me at all. Instead, they raised my expectations with a quick response and then crushed them with a valueless automated email. My response to their lack of responsiveness was to buy from one of their competitors.

What ROI Do Buyers Earn on Their Investment in You?
Stop and think for a second about how my experience mirrors that of your buyers today. I invested my own time to go online and research the range of services and vendors that were available. Just like your buyers. I narrowed my choices down and I submitted an inquiry that clearly demonstrated that was not just idly curious about their product but that I was seriously researching their offering with the intent to buy. Just like your buyers. And the best response they could muster was a soulless response from their marketing automation system. Is that just like you?

I invested my time in XYZ, Inc. and what did they give me in return? Nothing. A simple phone call from a knowledgeable salesperson and they may very well have closed the deal with my company. Instead, what did they get from me from that point forward? Despite three additional emails and one phone call? Nothing.

Don’t do this to your sales leads and your potential prospects. Get a lead? Call them. (Of course, you’re going to do some research about the buyer first. But, then, call them.

In sales, success is inextricably linked to information and speed. If your customers are working their way through their decision-making process, they can’t, and won’t, progress to the next step until their information requirements for the current step are completely satisfied. Without responsiveness, a sales or a buying cycle comes to a screeching halt.

Absolute responsiveness also builds trust that has a halo effect on your product and company, elevating you all above the competition.

In sales, time really is money. Your customers have more profitable ways to use their time than spend it with salespeople. Help them to quickly gather the information they need to make a good decision at the lowest cost possible and they will show you the money.