Consider your sales process or your negotiation conversation for a moment:
- How many times do you speak with people before they either buy from you or your negotiation is complete?
- How many conversations are had prior to sending a proposal or reaching agreement?
- How long is your entire buying cycle or decision-making cycle (from initial conversation through to conversion/agreement)
If you rely on your prospect or negotiating partner to reply to your email or call you back with an indication that they want to move forward, your process can take much longer than it needs to.
At least 3 times this past week, I’ve had conversations with people sharing how annoying it is when this happens. “Why don’t they just tell me they’re not interested” they say. Or “Why don’t people at least have the courtesy to get back to me!”
People don’t intend to forget their manners when it comes to getting back to people. More often than not it’s simply because most people have competing priorities.
What they spoke with you about may still be important, however so are all the other emails that keep flooding into their inbox.
Long v Short buying cycles and decision time frames
The solution to this problem is to purposefully move the conversation forward, one step at a time. As your buying cycle or decision-making time lengthens, the more important this step becomes in helping you reach a conclusion.
If you just accept that people will get back to you when they are ready, then you’re leaving this to ‘chance’ or ‘hope” in your business, and “hope” is a terrible business strategy.
Let me share with you how I execute these steps in my sales process.
No one ever buys from me in the first conversation and I don’t expect them to either. What people buy from me takes them time, consideration, stakeholder approval, sometimes reference checking my other clients, circumstance and budget.
All of those need to align for someone to give me the go ahead to proceed.
I take the ‘hope’ and ‘chance’ out of my business by implementing a small, simple step along the journey.
I never finish a sales conversation or a negotiation conversation without booking in our next conversation.
PRO TIP: I never have a sales conversation on the fly. I’m always prepared and these are always booked in advance. Only one time in my business so far have I gone against this principle and it didn’t work out so well for me.
So, knowing that I set up my sales conversation correctly, I still have no expectations that people will buy from me in that first interaction.
My strategy is that after that conversation (which is always completed over Zoom or Face to Face), there will be a summary and a proposal sent to them.
Now, here’s where it usually goes wrong for most people. Their process ends there, or they send another email a week later with what I call the “did you get my email, email”. Here’s the response you usually receive after sending that.
That’s right. You receive nothing.
To avoid that, I finish each meeting with a simple suggestion along the lines of “if you’re open to it, let’s make another time to get together next week. Just a quick chat so I can see how this is sitting with you. I’ve got my calendar handy, do you have yours?”
Then I book it in and send a calendar invitation.
Aside from that one situation I mentioned before, I have 100% strike rate with getting this next meeting booked in. It’s a game changer.
This allows me to learn a few things:
- How motivated they are to buy from me
- How capable they are to buy from me
- What’s on their mind following our conversation
Once I know the answers to that information, it allows me an opportunity to overcome any concerns and gets me one step closer to helping my prospect to solve a problem they have, which is why we are in conversation to begin with.
I appreciate that my prospects have many competing priorities so this next step also helps my prospects get closer to solving their problem, rather than let it drag on for many months.
Take the next step. Book in the next step.