Accelerating the Sales Cycle: Lesson 1—Beware the Friendly Buyer
POSTED : July 13, 2011
BY : PK

To kick off our blog for PK’s Inside Sales Optimization practice area, this is the first in a five-part series of articles we’ll be posting in the coming weeks designed to provide sales leaders with best practices—gleaned from current consulting engagements, market research and insights shared by other sales leaders—on how your organization can optimize your sales cycle.

A sales manager’s nirvana: Maintaining a high sales volume with the shortest possible sales cycle for each sale. While factors like price and product features may influence overall sales volume and may not be within the control of the sales team, managing the sales cycle should be not only within your control, but optimized to ensure that every transaction opportunity entering your funnel moves through the pipeline as quickly as possible.

Experienced sales pros will tell you that their most satisfying wins are the ones they have earned by being able to effectively respond to the harsh scrutiny of a savvy buyer who asks tough questions and does their homework before rewarding them with a purchase.  When buyers ask detailed and informed questions, rather than be intimidated, let your sellers know that they should seize the opportunity to not only address their questions, but add some qualifiers of their own:

  • Qualify Who—Decision Maker: “I want to make sure people in your organization have the information they need to make an informed decision about your next purchase. Are you the person in your company responsible for making the final purchase decision for our solution?”
  • Qualify What—Uncover Pain Points: “Given your detailed questions about our solution, are you currently satisfied with the [INSERT product/capability/service] you are currently using? If “No”, ask “Why not?”
  • Qualify When—Timing of Purchase: “When were you hoping to add these new [INSERT capabilities/products/services ] to your business?”
  • Qualify How—Purchasing Process: “So I can make sure we support your efforts to get all the information you need about our solution, is there a purchasing approval cycle/system/process I should be aware of?

Beware the friendly buyer: Your rep tells you about an order she’s been carrying in her pipeline for the last quarter and just extended the close for another 30 days. When you ask what’s causing the delay, the rep tells you, “I’ve been developing a great relationship with the buyer. He’s awesome to work with, super friendly and always takes my calls. I know that he’s going to place the order as soon as he’s ready.” Beware the friendly buyer: Often buyers who don’t have the purchasing authority or are uncertain if or when your solution will be purchased, will resort to being overly friendly to sales reps to avoid conflict, save face and get off the phone with their dignity intact.

Whether confronted with a buyer asking tough questions or a friendly buyer who returns calls but doesn’t make a purchase, your team can accelerate the sales cycle by adding qualifiers during the call that pinpoint exactly where the prospect is in the buyers’ purchase cycle.

Tags: