Imagine the revenue in your company is a factory, operating like a production line, but you’re too impatient to go through the whole process, so you just do a few of the bits and the parts you do, are rushed because you’re too busy focussing on other things. How do you think your “product” (end result) will come out?
Sales and Negotiation are essentials business skills and many companies are having sales conversations and conducting negotiations without process or purpose. Too often, this leads to lower margins, less contracts and losing negotiations. By applying process, combined with humanised, trust-building principles, all companies can improve in this area.
Slow down to speed up
No matter how effective your marketing is and how many leads are going into your CRM, if you don’t have and apply a sales process, your conversion ratio will be low and you won’t optimise each opportunity.
Skipping steps, or fast-forwarding the process is the same as your production line taking sections of the conveyor belt out. Some products might make it through, but you won’t be able to predict their success.
When you have a meeting with a new prospect, that is your chance to show them how your factory runs.
It is NOT the time to vomit your greatness all over them in what I’ve coined the “show up and throw up”, where your prospect hears you pitch all over them.
Speeding your process up and skipping steps might save you a short amount of time, but it will cost you a lot of revenue.
Your first meeting with a prospect is your opportunity to make them the hero of the conversation. It is not the time to conduct the performance of a lifetime with your best features and benefits, case studies and testimonials statements.
“But our prospects are busy and only want to meet with us for 15 minutes”, I hear you say.
Here are some phrases you’ll never hear me say to a prospect:
- Let’s have a quick meeting
- I won’t take up much of your time
- Yes, a 15/30 minute meeting will be fine
- Yes, I can just email you over my information
- Yes, I’ll send you something for you to pass onto your decision maker
- Let me know if you want to catch up sometime
Instead, I won’t agree to a first meeting with a prospect if I can’t have an hour. That is the time I need, because that is the time it takes to conduct my sales process with competency.
If I were to accept (or schedule) a quick meeting with a prospect, it would be impossible for me to conduct all the components of my sales process, such as:
- Rapport building
- Asking open-ended questions
- Understanding the brief/scope
- Strategic silence
- Handling objections
- Providing my recommendation
Many companies (not my clients!) are conducting this first meeting and taking up all the airtime by telling the prospect all about themselves.
I recently had a company pitch their services to me in an 87 slide PowerPoint presentation and then at the end, they said to me “we know you’re in sales, Julia, so we’ve made an extra effort just for you to show you our skills”. Wow.
In my first meeting with a prospect, I take up approximately 40% of the airtime. If it was more than that, I’d be surprised. The meeting feels calm, collaborative, slow-paced, conversational and constructive.
It’s also extremely purposeful and deliberate. Not for the purpose of manipulating people, but designed to bring out the best in my prospect. I give them the platform to share what’s important to them, allow them to connect with me by finding things in common, exploring options and challenges and continually playing back the emotions, impact and meaning behind the words I’m hearing.
It’s also another reason why my conversion ratio is continually between 78% & 83%.
It’s not about you
By fast-forwarding this meeting or skipping steps, you’re only hurting yourself. Every minute spent with a new prospect is a minute closer to them deciding to work with you. It additional time that you have to get to know each other and decide if you’re the right solution for them.
If you’re simply playing for speed, your prospect feels like a transaction and you give the impression that they aren’t worth your time.