There are ways to speed up your sales process; many—if not most—are unhealthy. You can rush through the process, not giving the conversations your client needs the appropriate time and attention. You can speed past some of the necessary outcomes, as if they are not important, mistakenly believing the choice of action doesn’t come with a cost. You can allow your prospect to dictate the process, skipping steps, and avoiding doing what they need to to make a good decision. There are ways you can create velocity in your sales results.
While velocity is important, it isn’t most important. The prize for the most important belongs solely to “winning.” It never makes sense to trade time when doing so increases the likelihood of a loss, yet this is what many do, often attempting the new one-call close. There are better ways to speed up your sales results, and doing so requires you shift your focus from trying to “cheat” the process (the sales conversation) to a more strategic and healthier choice.
Speed Up New Opportunities
If you want to accuse salespeople of not doing something as fast as they should, you need to look much earlier in the sales cycle. What happens too slow in sales is the creation of new opportunities (real opportunities, not contacts, and companies that engage without any genuine interest or any commitment to change). Too few opportunities is often the result of too little prospecting. Weeks with little or no prospecting means the time passed without the salesperson creating new opportunities. You lose velocity when you create an opportunity in the future that you might have created sooner.
Imagine you are required to make twenty outbound attempts a day. In the course of the week, you make one-hundred calls, and you create two new meetings that result in a new opportunity. With no change in your strategy or your approach, you decide to make forty outbound attempts and create four new meetings that result in four new opportunities. These two additional opportunities have been pulled forward in time by a week.
Note: Forty dials may require you to leave as many as thirty voice mail messages. The reason you can make many more calls than you needed if you are required to prospect at all, is because you don’t get to talk to too many people. Prospecting now means campaigns and pursuit plans, not sporadic calls made without a plan or intention.
Sales managers often ask their salespeople to close deals faster, but they don’t ask them to create deals more quickly, and many are unwilling to hold them accountable for prospecting at all.
There is every reason to pull results forward in time. You get the revenue sooner, and your client receives the better outcome they need faster.
Slow Down Your Process
Let me make this point abundantly clear; revenue now is better than revenue later. A client getting the result they need today is better than three weeks from now. There is no reason to take more time than is necessary to win a deal, but you also shouldn’t try to cheat the process.
You cannot go faster than your dream client can go, even though you know the destination and the way there. When you try to speed things up, you leave your contacts behind, creating a gap they can’t close by themselves. Since your client can’t catch up with you, you have to go back to where they are and give them what they need to move forward.
Here’s an example: you have a couple of discovery meetings, your contacts love your ideas, and they are excited. However, you haven’t had a chance to tailor the solution to them and their company, nor have you discussed the investment. They ask you for a proposal and pricing, and you provide it. Then, crickets. They go dark, leaving you chasing ghosts. Because you did not collaborate on the solution and didn’t help them build consensus within their company and teams, you eventually hear, “We decided to go another direction.” (For more on these commitments, see The Lost Art of Closing: Winning the 10 Commitments That Drive Sales)
An interesting metric is how many hours of conversation it takes to win a deal. If an average deal for some imaginary company takes ten hours to win, with the low end being six, why would you try to make the sale in an hour or two? Maybe you don’t know better and believe the deal to be more transactional than it really is, or perhaps you are trying to fast. It might also be that you are allowing your client to go faster than they should if they want to make the changes they have been working on with you.
Speeding Up by Slowing
The way to speed up your process is to acquire the necessary commitments, linking them together without allowing much time between meetings. If you can shorten the distance between the meetings locked safely on your calendar, you can build velocity. You slow your deals by leaving meetings without established next steps and a date for the next meeting. Like cheating the process slows your progress, long periods between sessions can also kill your momentum.
If you need to speed up the acquisition of deals, it may be because you have too few opportunities to allow you to spend time helping your client with their decision, without your having to try to drag them along at a pace they cannot possibly maintain.
Speed up the creation of opportunities and gain the commitments that speed up the time it takes to win deals—and produce better results for your clients.