How Sales Managers Can Drive a Shorter Sales Cycle

by on November 15, 2011 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: Webinars for Sales Managers

Video Transcript

Operator: Hello and welcome to today’s conference entitled, How Sales Managers Can Drive a Shorter Sales Cycle

The general outline for today’s program is included in your handout. As a reminder, this call is being recorded.

Today’s speaker is Steve Von Hoene.

Steve founded Journey Learning with over 21 years of sales, management, and training experience with three industry leaders. Formerly the Vice President of National Accounts for Carew International, he enjoyed great success in a wide range of industries, consulting and facilitating sales, leadership, customer service, and financial literacy workshops with Fortune 500 companies in the United States and abroad.

Steve, the audience is all yours.

Steve Von Hoene: All right. Well, great. Thanks, Erik. And welcome, everyone. I hope things are great in your world wherever you are. Great topic today talking about shortening the sales cycle. I know certainly in my days when I was the Vice President of sales and have folks reporting to me, you know, one of the big interest I had was not just making sure their pipelines were full but making sure we work through each of those prospects as quickly as we could bringing them to a successful conclusion. So hopefully, we’ll be able to offer some thoughts today that will help you guys be able to do that that as well.

Let’s get right into it here and talk about, you know, what are some of the things that, you know, get in the way I guess or make the sales cycle longer than we might like it to be.

I think as I thought about this and getting ready for things, the first thing that pop in my mind was how often have I been in situations either on a call or in talking to a rep outside of the call kind of planning for things that they weren’t talking to the right people.

Whether that they weren’t to a decision maker or they weren’t talking to somebody who could influence the decision maker as effectively as we might, you know, like them to or need them to. So, you know, are we talking to the right people?

Another one I think is poor time management skills. Are we doing all of the things we need to do beforehand so that we’re ready for the call? But also are we actually managing the call itself effectively? You know, do we communicate how much time we think we’d like to have? Do we understand how much team the prospect has to give us? All of those kinds of things, just making sure every minute we spend in the sales cycle is well spent.

I think another thing relative to, you know, this whole idea of lengthening your sales cycle is the idea of poor pre-call planning which I alluded to a moment ago but it’s not just getting ready for what you’re going to do in that call but that we’ve done all the kind of homework we should be doing, have we leveraged all the different resources we could possibly leverage that might help either position us for that call going into it or prepare us to come out of that call effectively.

And any number of other things that go into, you know, making sure the call is ready. Again, building a great presentation, having all the materials we need, so on and so forth.

So I think to some extent, and this is certainly true more with new reps but do they have the appropriate knowledge realm, you know, our products and services, the customer’s world, the competition, you know, the industry in general, what’s going on in the marketplace, those kinds of things.

You know, I say to folks all the time, I think there are three components that go into whether somebody is going to be successful or not. One of them is any collection of knowledge items. So this whole bullet item here around different things that people need to know.

The second area is skills that they need to have. So how good are they at conducting the meeting itself. And the third would be kind of their own personal traits and characteristics. You know, are they competitive, are they driven, are they a self starter, those kinds of things.

So I think relative to knowledge, you know, this is a big area. And I know it’s a source of frustration not just for the managers but for the new reps as well that they get up to speed as quickly as they can. So something we can do there.

You know, do they have good closing skills, you know, when they get to that point that it’s time to ask for the business? Are they good at doing that? Are they confident? Is it a natural conclusion to the call that they’ve been walking the prospect through at that point?

And, you know, do they do it in a way that, again, kind of shows that they have all the pieces in mind and in place and are ready to move forward.

And then to me, the last one, I alluded to this a moment ago in talking about traits and whatnot. But we’re talking about getting people to move through the sales cycle more quickly. Does that match up with their own personal personality traits? You know, are they driven to win, you know?

And I don’t mean, you know, just at all cost. Sometimes that’s appropriate. But more than anything, do they like to celebrate the win? You know, do they want to get something accomplished so that they can put another feather in the hat or whatever it might be.

And is there again some sense of urgency around all of the different things that need to be done before, during and after the call to make sure that, you know, we are communicating to our prospects, we really want their business and we’re in the right position to get it, I guess.

So all of these things are I think critical. As I thought about what we could talk about today, you know, we could probably spend multiple hours dealing with this topic of shorten the sales cycle and go into a lot of detail on those.

I thought for one, you know, take out the personal drive things, something we’re not going to be able to talk about probably today. I think similarly, poor closing skills, those are things you’re going to want to work with your folks or work with them on one on one, it’s going to be different for each person.

I think some of the things I would like to talk about today are going to apply to everyone, probably third one I would take off the list is again this knowledge of products and competitors and so on and so forth.

So the top three I think are the three that we could spend some time on. And I want to touch on all of them to some extent. To me, the one that really makes the biggest difference I think in terms of shortening the sales cycle is how ready are we when we go and finally get in front of that prospect? Have we done all the necessary preparation?

So let’s talk about, you know, pre-call planning and kind of what goes into that. So at the end of today’s session which I hope you can walk away with three things. Number one, knowing what pieces of information are critical to have and to, you know, kind of cover to be able to move forward.

I think the second thing is to anticipate what are some of the concerns or roadblocks or issues that may come up with any number of different potential solutions we might offer.

I don’t know exactly what your worlds are obviously. But oftentimes there’s more than one way to skin a particular cat as it relates to getting a piece of business. So I like to when possible advocate multiple solutions but certainly to anticipate what kinds of things might get in the way for any of those solutions and to prepare for them.

And then I think the third takeaway is, again, just to recognize the value of time, both our time and our people’s times as well as the prospect’s times.

Again, another topic we could get into but, you know, just the whole idea of setting appointments is oftentimes a challenge. And I think it’s a function directly because of how busy people are.

So once we get that opportunity, those golden moments to be with someone, I think we need to make the most of them. And similarly, which I’ll talk about here toward the end of our discussion today, making sure we protect our own time as well because I think we can get caught up in some activities and some experiences that are not at all productive for us. So that’s where we’re going to go, I hope.

So let’s talk about again this idea of pre-call planning. I like to talk about when it relates to clients in trying to get their business, understanding what their gaps are. And probably that phrase conjures up certain images in your minds but as it relates to the model in the top right hand part of the screen there, there are actually three different areas of consideration I think we should explore as it relates to what are the kinds of things we want to know.

So one of those pieces of information is, you know, where they are now, what’s their experience with their current supplier, what’s their experience in the business reality, what are the issues they’re facing, those kinds of things.

I think the next one is good to know, how did they get there. And it’s in gray; the rest of these would be all in black. But this one’s in gray simply because I think oftentimes we go to this question too quickly. And I think there’s some sensitivity around it especially if there’s a problem at play.

You know, I always say you have to earn the right to know enough of the customer’s story especially as it relates to problems they may be having or, you know, “dirty laundry”.

You know, they chose the vendor they have and, you know, so it’s a bit of a poor reflection on them that they’re having an issue. Maybe they didn’t choose the vendor but nonetheless they’re in a bad situation. And I think quite frankly, too often, if you think about kind of a spectrum of possible sales approaches, you know, think of it as a continuum. At one end, you’re just straight out order takers.

I like to talk about, you know, the clerk at a grocery store. You collect all your stuff you want, you bring it to them and you’re basically just going to do a transaction. All the way to the other end of the spectrum would be collaborative problem solvers. I think most of our sales folks hopefully fall somewhere in the middle and preferably to the, you know, the latter extent of being those collaborative type of folks.

But I think one of the danger areas in the middle that many customers object to or get a little skittish around are those salespeople who are just looking for problems. You know, what problems are you having, how can I help you solve that.

Quite frankly, I think problem solving, if you’re in a situation where that’s your mode most of the time, you’re pretty fortunate. If you’re not used to selling in a way that isn’t problem oriented, I think you can be challenged when somebody says things are fine. You know, you need out have a better understanding of their world than just looking for problems in terms of helping them try to get rid or try to go.

So there’s a lot of language there around where they are. I just think you need to be careful about when you explore “How did you get here?” and I you basically just need to build a little more than relationship before you ask that question.

I do something you’re going to ask pretty early in the game is where do they want to be? And if you go back to the model in the top right there, the GAPS, the PS stands for something I called preferred situation.

So if all things were as they would like them to be or as good as they could possibly be, what would that look like? And again, in my conversations with customers, I call that, you know, what would be your preferred situation? How would you like things to be running or looking or going, you know, all those kinds of things. So I think that’s an area you can get into pretty quickly.

So I think once you understand that or once they begin to articulate that, I think it’s important to dig into why that particular situation is interesting to them. You know, is there a financial element to it? Is there a competitive element to it? You know, they establish themselves more strongly in the marketplace.

Is there a personal gain for them, you know, if they achieve this? Will they either make more money or they potentially get promoted? You know, whatever it is. So I think once we understand where they want to be, I think it’s equally important, in fact almost more so but you can’t have one without the other to understand why is that particular destination important to them.

I think another thing we can find out, we should find out and plan to find out is, again, anticipate what might get in the way of whatever solution you may bring to bear.

And quite frankly, it may even be stuff that you can’t anticipate because it’s unique to their world which is why you need to ask the question. You know, “As you consider where you’d like to be, what kind of things might pop up?” You know, again, it could be an operational issue in their own facility, it could be a personnel issue that may be somebody’s you know, going to be a real roadblock to change, something like that. So ask them the questions. You know, what kind of things might get in the way from their end.

I think another thing is kind of relative to that last piece about who might get in the way, I’d want to know who’s going to be impacted by whatever solution we can potentially implement here because they’re probably going to have some say in what happens. If not officially in terms of the decision making process, once it’s in place, they could have a say. And, you know, it could potential hurt or help us to get future business.

So I want to know who else is going to be impacted by this. And the involved part of this bullet is who will be involved in the decision making process. You know, a lot of times, customers want us to talk to two other three people within their operation to get their input or to learn certain pieces of information that are important. So who will be impacted by whatever solution we bring in and who will be involved in the decision process?

And then another bullet here is ‘what’s the timing’. Again, I know many sales reps get into things and they anticipate or assume that it’s going to happen as soon as possible but it may very well be that there’s a budget issue or, you know, some cyclical issue that they have to wait six months to implement something or whatever.

So again, find out from the customer’s perspective when they would like it to happen and, you know, perhaps even when it is likely to happen. They may have wishes that are a lot quicker than what is the reality.

And then I think finally, a version of this question that has been around for a long time but as part of closing down what we call your discovery process, I think we need to ask, you know, what it will take to get the business. And I think there’s lots of ways you can ask that question. But ultimately, I want to know how much of the decision is going to be based on price, how much of it is going to be based on certain product specs, how much of it is going to be based on some level of service, whatever it might be.

How much of it is going to be based on do we need to get, you know, “Joe Blow or Jane Smith or whoever in their organization onboard in order for this to happen.

So here’s a list. I don’t know that it’s an exhaustive list. But I think again, as we sit down with their reps and try to talk about free call planning, I think they need to have a plan of what do they want to find out, what do they want to learn and do they have a good set of questions that will help them get there.

Again, they’re all great pieces of information. I think one of the keys to be careful about in this whole mode here is kind of a compounded issue of two things. Number one, making sure that you’re kind of coming at things from the customer’s perspective. You really want to see things from their viewpoint so that you understand it the way they potentially understand it.

And along those lines, to make sure that you’re not making this like an interrogation. You know, we’re not trying to get out the bright light and the rubber hose and beat these things out of people. We want to understand what kinds of things are important so that, you know, we’re on the same page and at the same place on the page with them to know that when we ultimately bring a solution that it’s going to be relevant, it’s going to address all the things they wanted to address. And we’re hopefully not going to miss anything.

So I think again, to make this a conversation and I even try to tell people to set it up – tell those reps to set it up with the customer ahead of time. “I have a number of questions I’d like to ask you.” Or “There are a lot of things I’d like to learn.” And I think quite frankly, you need to do all of these before you even begin to present any kind of solutions.

You know, we do a negotiations program. And I think so often, reps get themselves in trouble with things that become negotiable because they didn’t find out enough stuff upfront.

So somehow communicate to the client, I want to do this as expeditiously and judiciously as possible so that I can respect your time and get you where you’re trying out go as quickly as you can but as competently as I can. So lots of thoughts there, okay.

So what we want to do is share with you all something that is kind of the Hallmark offering from the Rapid Learning Institute and we call those Quick Takes. And these are short little vignettes on different topics. Today’s is obviously how to shorten the sales cycle.

So here’s the resource that’ll be available to you and your folks to address this topic. And when it’s over, we’ll come back and touch on a few things. So it’s about an eight to ten-minute vignette here. So buckle in, sit tight. Make sure your volume is up. And enjoy this Quick Take. We’ll be back in a few minutes.

Quick Take: Welcome to this Quick Take Rapid Learning Module. Today’s topic, How to Shorten your Sales Cycle.

Vic sells industrial ovens. For the past six months, he’s been cultivating a big sale to modern bakeries. The bakery needs to replace its old inefficient oven but there are a lot of issues to consider. How will the new ovens integrate with their production line, what will be more cost effective, gas or electric, how will product quality be affected.

It’s a complex sale. But Vic’s sales manager is losing patience. “Vic, is this sale ever going to close?” he asks. “I need to book the revenue if we’re going to make our numbers this quarter.” “Almost there, boss” says Vic. “They’re buying can be just needs to work out a few more details.” “Well, why don’t you give them a call and hurry them up?”

So Vic makes the call and gets a nasty surprise. “Well, the thing is…” his prospect says, “…we’ve already made a decision. We’re going with another vendor.”

Vic didn’t lose this sale because his price was too high or because his product was inferior or because he knew less about industries ovens than his competitor. He lost because his sales cycle was too long.

In this Quick Take, you will learn the most important reason to reduce your sales cycle and it isn’t to save time; the number one cause of slow sales cycle; a common but critical error that many salespeople make when they’re gathering information from a prospect and the shocking list concept; and a tool that will dramatically shorten your sales cycle.

There are lots of good reasons to reduce the sales cycle. The faster you close, the faster you get paid, the more time you have to find more business. But the most important reason is to increase your chances of making the sale because as Vic found out, the sooner you get to the finish line, the more likely you’ll win.

So how did Vic’s competitor Victoria get there first? By gathering all the information she needed to move the process to the next step. Research shows that the most common reasons sales drag out is lack of information.

In eight out of ten cases, when buyers sit down to make a decision, at least one critical piece of information is missing. When that happens, the process grinds to a halt until somebody goes back and gets the missing piece.

Think of the sales cycle this way. It’s Saturday morning and you’re assembling a swing set. You discover the step one requires a three quarter inch drill bit. So you jumped in the car, drive to the hardware store and buy one. Later, you find out you’re missing an Allen wrench required in step five so it’s back to the store again. Then step nine calls for a special lock washer so it’s one more trip. By the time you get back, it’s getting late. You decide you’ll finish it tomorrow. When you wake up on Sunday, it’s raining.

If you had everything you needed in the beginning, you could easily have finished that swing set in a day. Now, you’re looking at next weekend at the earliest. Of course there’s a simple way to avoid those problems. Before you ever get started, you sit down, read the instructions and make a shopping list.

That’s what you need to do to accelerate your sales. At each step in the sales process, make a shopping list that identifies all the information you and your buyer will need to move to the next step.

Victoria made a shopping list, Vic didn’t. He assumes his buyer would tell him what they needed. That’s a common but critical error. You can’t rely on your buyer to provide the information you need to accelerate a sales cycle. It’s your sale and you who need to control the information.

The fact is most buyers can’t tell you all the things that need to be on the shopping list. Think of that swing set again. If you’ve never built a swing set before, how complete and accurate would your shopping list be? Not very.

Victoria’s prospect buys an industrial oven once every five years or so – not often enough to master every detail of a complex buying concept. She can’t create a complete, accurate shopping list.

Vic, on the other hand, sells ovens all day long. He knows what information he and his buyer will need to get this deal done. Unfortunately, Vic lets his prospect create her own shopping list which means that her inefficiency, her trip to the hardware store and her rain delays slow down the sales cycle.

Victoria will have none of that. She owns the sales cycle and takes total control. Yes, it’s the prospect’s shopping list but Victoria knows she’s the best qualified person to create it. So in every step of the sales process, she carefully reviews all the information requirements and drafts the complete accurate shopping list for the buyer.

The difference between Vic’s reactive approach and Victoria’s proactive approach is a game changer. For example, let’s look at how Vic and Victoria handle just one of the many tasks involved in the sale. The bakery has to decide whether to buy electronic or gas-fired oven.

“Help us understand how the operational costs compare,” the buyer asks. Vic goes back, crunches the numbers and provides an analysis showing the gas-fired oven will cost about 12% less to operate than electric oven. “Interesting,” the buyer says, “But I see you use our average rate for cost per kilowatt hour. We do a lot of our baking at night. So how do the numbers change if we use off-peak rate?”

“Well, why didn’t she say that last time?” Vic thinks. He’ll have to get back to her. But the buyer is going to be out of town and won’t be able to look at the new numbers until next Thursday. Then of course, he’ll have to send them to her boss. Vic shouldn’t expect to hear anything for, oh, at least three weeks.

Victoria, by contrast, knows operational costs are likely to be a concern. She’s prepared a list of detailed questions, including one about off-peak rate. And when the buyer doesn’t have the figures she’ll need for the analysis, Victoria persists, “Tell me, who does have the information on your electric rate? Can I speak to them as soon as we’re done here?”

Her list also includes questions about the decision making process. She learns the boss will have to review the numbers. “Then let’s make sure he’s at the next meeting,” Victoria says. “And once your boss reviews the numbers, what happens next?” “Well, then we’ll start comparing prices from the different vendors,” the buyer says.

“Okay, let’s add that to the agenda,” says Victoria. “We track our competitors’ prices so I’ll bring a spreadsheet. Of course, you’ll want to verify the numbers but we’ll be able to begin the discussion.”

You get the idea. Victoria’s goal is to get as much done in that next meeting as possible. Let’s look at the impact on her sales cycle.

Vic’s process requires eight steps. One, he meets with the customer to get input. Two, he presents the initial cost analysis. Three, he revises the analysis. Four, he sends it to the buyer. Five, the buyer sends it to her boss. Six, the boss reviews it. Seven, Vic responds to any questions that the boss raises. Eight, then he waits while the buyer check’s competitors’ pricing.

Victoria gets it all done in just three steps. One, she sits down and creates her shopping list. Two, during the first meeting, she works down the list, identifying all the information that will be needed to move the sale to the next step. Three, in the second meeting, she presents the complete cost analysis, responds to any questions the boss raises and provides the competitors’ pricing. At the end of that meeting, she’s five steps closer to a sale than Vic.

Here’s one last thought. Some salespeople worry that buyers will feel pressured if they tried to accelerate the sales cycle. Buyers might if your idea of acceleration is simply to ask, “How soon will you make a decision?” There’s nothing in that question to benefit the buyer.

But Victoria’s buyer isn’t going to feel pressured. On the contrary, the buyer is busy, too. She doesn’t want to waste her time in endless meetings. The sooner she can get those new ovens up and running, the better. Think of a short sales cycle as a way to add value and give yourself a significant competitive advantage.

Let’s summarize what we’ve learned today. Sales cycles drag out when you or your buyer don’t have the information required to make a decision. Think of building a swing set. If you don’t plan carefully, you’ll incur one needless delay after another.

You need to own the sales cycle. You’re better qualified than the buyer to keep it moving. In each step of the sales cycle, create a shopping list to make sure you identify everything you need to prevent delay.

Steve Von Hoene: Okay. So lots of great information in that Quick Take. And if I were going to boil it all down, I think these are some of the big takeaways, you know, time is not just money. Certainly that expression is timeless – pun intended. But it’s not just, as the Quick Take said; it’s not just so we can get on to pursuing other prospects or anything in that nature.

It is – the more expeditiously and efficiently we can work through the process and competently – by doing all the things Victoria did – we demonstrate to the buyer that we know what we’re doing and we’re in charge and obviously the quicker we can get to the end and help them get to the end of the process, the more the likelihood that we’ll get the business. So time is critically important here.

My experience has been, you know, as I was going through my list earlier of things to prepare and be ready for, my guess is most of us are saying, “Oh, yeah. Yeah, that makes sense. Oh, I’ve heard that. Oh, I do that.” But I don’t know too many sales reps, quite frankly, who put the amount of time into their pre-call efforts as they should.

You know, luckily we’re not in the room. I’m not going to ask anybody to raise their hands. We can’t see who is guilty of this themselves and perhaps when they were selling but I think often times, either we’re busy, we don’t have time to do things or we figure we can just wing it and it’s worked in the past so it will work again, you know, whatever it might be. Sometimes that works.

But my experience has been that more times than not and certainly more times than just winging it, if we have a good plan going in and we take care of all the things we need to take care, that we will be in a much better position to be in the driver’s seat in terms of helping these people get where they want to get with us. So, again, my experience has been not many reps put that kind of time into the pre-call planning.

And along those lines, I love this in the Quick Take where if you think about it, and I don’t know what you folks sell, what your people are out there representing, maybe it is an everyday purchase for many of your customers. But if it’s a capital expense or anything that is at all complicated, there are probably more factors to consider and more information to digest than these buyers probably do on a daily basis. And if we’re out there selling our stuff everyday, we should be the expert in the whole process.

And so, you know, I know the Quick Take cautioned us about, “Don’t worry about being pushy here.” Again, I think the message that gets communicated is critical. If you’re pushy because you’re trying to get the business for your won benefit, nobody likes that. And I think customers can sense that.

But if you’re being deliberate, let’ say – not pushy – but if you’re being deliberate about moving forward in the questions you’re asking in trying to get information or other people who need to be involved into these meetings and so on and so forth, if you are doing it with the clear intent of making that buyer or that customer’s job easier to make this thing happen and again get them where they’re trying to go, get to that preferred situation quicker, then I think it’s appreciated.

You know, many people – we talk about this in our live workshops, we do this little exercise – and often times we’ll talk about the word “manipulation”.

And I think sometimes that has a negative connotation, often times, it has a negative connotation. Well, I had shoulder surgery a few years back. And after surgery, I had to go to physical therapy. And I don’t know if any of you have been in that situation but the therapist manipulated my arm, you know, moved in certain directions and put in certain positions, some of which were not very pleasant.

They’re actually kind of painful. But the goal and the intent of the therapist was clearly to get me in a better situation, you know, it’s to heal my arm and give me back to some full level of functionality. And that’s the difference, I think.

If our sales reps can communicate that we are doing things because we do this everyday and again, there’s, maybe not even a fine line, there’s a pretty clear line about being arrogant and overbearing or overly controlling when the customer doesn’t like that. But again, I think to let them know that we are the expert is a good thing and lots of analogies we can use.

I mean, if you go to the doctor and you try to tell them what’s wrong with you, when you’re the customer and they’ve got more training and more experience in dealing with whatever your issue is, your input is important but their input or their, you know, their thought process and their direction is going to be a heck a lot more important.

So, again, pick the analogy you like but I think it’s important that the reps understand that they have a right and often times it’s better if they can control things moving forward.

And the Quick Take touched on this whole idea of decision making matrix which again I think is important. We need to know who is going to be in the process, you know. Is this going to be a committee decision? Is it going to be one person’s call?

Again, how much of the finance is coming to play? All those kinds of things. As I said, who else might be involved in the process? And again, what critical factors are going to be at play here? What kinds of things could potentially arise that could get in the way?

And again, from our perspective or the client, you know, are we looking at supply issues, of being able to produce things in time? Are we looking at delivery issues, whatever it might be? But again, from their standpoint, is there budget that we need to consider?

You know, some end of a financial quarter or a fiscal year, something like that; other purchasing decisions that they’re making, so on and so forth.

So we need to know who’s involved and what are the factors so that we can, again, get these folks to the position that they want to be in and be viewed as the great valuable resource that got them there.

So I think if we’re going to take everything we talked about today, there’s a bunch of stuff here obviously. But for me, again, to kind of break it down to maybe three things, I think the shopping list is a great idea.

I think there are certain pieces of information that we really do need to know and then there are other pieces of information that would be nice to know.

And there’s a little bit of an art that goes into how you ask questions that uncover both of these different things and which one do you do first, which one do you do later, so on and so forth. But absolutely have the list of things that you want to find out.

The other thing I think is I’m a big believer in having procedures for things that we repeat. And I would say that the pre-call planning that we need to go through is probably similar from one customer or prospect to the next. So I say put a procedure together.

And it could be very general, it could be things like, “Have you checked the Web for certain things? Have you talked to our production folks to understand what the schedules are? Have you talked to perhaps our buyers to know what kind of raw materials we have coming in? Whatever. But again, part of that procedure should be, “Have you made your shopping list of the need-to-knows and nice-to-knows?”

And I think certainly too, again, depending on how different your different sales situations are, are there previous sales opportunities that you’ve been through that are similar to the one you’re facing now?

And is there anything that we need to do there or is there something that we learned or should have learned from the last one, either something we did well or something we didn’t do well that should have been a learning? And what do we need to do differently the next time we’re in that situation?

So I think having a procedure of things to think about and things to do beforehand is also very good. And then get in the habit of scheduling whatever follow-up activities there need to be. And I’m talking about your reps now. But again, way too often I hear sales reps say, “Okay, well, I’ll go back and do my homework.”

“So it’s good for us to get to the next week and it’s good the following week.” “Okay great. So I’ll call you in two weeks.” And that’s where they leave it. And again, in the live workshops that we do, I don’t know how many times I hear the issue, “How can you help me get phone calls returned or get emails returned? Or, you know, again, expedite my sales cycle, shorten the selling process, whatever it might be?”

So what I try to tell reps is if there are follow-up things that need to be done and you’re going to need to reconnect with that person, schedule it right then and there while you’re in front of them. Make it as important as this particular meeting was or any other thing that they’ve got to do in their jobs to be successful.

So if I need to go back and do some homework and I know it’s going to take me five days to do that, well, if today is Tuesday, then I should be ready to do my homework, prepare whatever I need for another meeting. So I should be ready to meet with person maybe by Wednesday at the latest, of the following week.

So know ahead of time or even work it out in the moment, “How much time am I going to need to do the follow-up stuff I need to do so that we can get back together but then book that next appointment with them right then and there?”

I think that does a number of things. Number one, it demonstrates the urgency that you have for this project to the customer. And I think most people appreciate that. Number two, I think it creates some urgency on your own end in terms of, “Okay, well, we’ve got this meeting set for next Thursday at 10 so I need to make sure I get the information I need to collect. I need to do that.”

And especially if you’re relying on the people, you know, I had one customer I was working with who – they needed to get some information from their IT department to be able to go back to the customer and the IT people were dragging their feet.

Well, that’s a nice leverage point to be able to go to them and say, “Hey look, I have a meeting with this prospect next Thursday at 10. I absolutely have to get this information by Tuesday so I can do something with it to prepare my presentation at my meeting.”

So I think it helps on our end in terms of creating some level of urgency as well. And then I think maybe it’s obvious but I think there’s another benefit that if that customer puts it on their calendar, chances are they’re going to protect it like any other meeting so that if something else comes up or if someone else wants their time, they’re going to see it on their calendar and they’re going to avoid that timeslot.

So I think you have a greater likelihood that you’ll be able to reconnect with that person more expeditiously than if you would just say, “Okay, well, I’ll call you next week.” And then you begin to call them on Tuesday and now their Thursday is booked and you’re looking at Friday or the following week and again, sales cycle gets extended, chances of closing go down. So get them to commit a time and a day whenever you’ve got a follow-up meeting, all right.

So those I think are three big things we can do based on some of the things we’ve talked about today. So now how do you make this kind of stuff stick? You know, if some of your reps are listening right now or you’re going to go back and relay this to them – and I’m going to talk in a moment how they can actually watch the Quick Take that we all just watched – how do we make it stick?

Well, from our perspective, many companies look at training as an event. And that is not a really good way to look at training. It’s not something you check off the laundry list of, “Oh, I’ve got to do training. Oh, we did that. Okay, good. We’re good to go.”

It needs to be a process. And I talked before about pre-call planning being a process so is training. So we need to find a way to introduce our folks to a concept and then we got to make sure that we can coach to it and find ways to reinforce it so that it becomes ingrained in them and it ultimately becomes a part of the way they operate.

So the process of training requires follow-up and there’s where ROI comes in and we’ve done a great job of developing what we call interval reinforcement learning. And what we’ve done now is for everybody who registered for the call today, we have sent you information, a link in an email, to actually experience the Rapid Learning Center’s selling essentials world.

So when you get the email from us, if you’ve not already received it, you will shortly, you’ll notice there’s a link in there. And let me walk you through now how to visit the site and be able to watch the Quick Take and see some of the other resources that are available to you.

Okay. So here’s the log-in page and so again you’ll receive an email if you haven’t already. Put in your user name in the top box there and then put in the password and both of those pieces of information will be in the email and then just click the log-in. Now, you have access to this site for 30 days and so again, you can watch the Quick Take that we just watched today which is if you look toward the bottom of this, like the third bullet arrow down, it’s How to Shorten Your Sales Cycle. So there it is.

You can watch that module. Right below that you’ll see there’s a link. We’re looking at all the different Quick Takes in the library but in essence you have access to everything that Rapid Learning Center offers on different sales topics.

So click on the link. When you go to that particular module, you’ll see that there will be a number of options. You can launch the program which will basically allow you to watch just like we just did, the narrated PowerPoint session. But you’ll also see on the list here there are other resources so I really encourage you to click on each of these and see what’s there.

You know, there are a few handouts, there’s a printout of the different PowerPoint slides. So you can have that and know what the reps saw. There’s a discussion guide here.

There’s a Quick Take quiz. You remember watching the session, at the end of the Quick Take we invite everybody who watches it to do a quiz to see how much of it you learned, so how much can you remember from what you just watched. So lots of things here on the Quick Take library once you get into the actual session itself.

Also, we encourage you to invite other people. You can actually invite others within your organization to partake in the same 30-day trial. So if we go back to the main screen, there’s a place where you can, again, invite someone else. Up in the very top center there, Add Users. So you can add other folks from your organization and they’ll have the same access.

So we want you to use this. We want you to look at some of those different resources that are offered.

Come up with a plan of how you might again just visit this topic but then how you go back and have some discussions with your folks at follow-up meetings. The key here is to stay live with it. Keep it active and let the folks know that, “Look, this isn’t just something we’re going to show to you and expect you’re going to walk away from. We really want you to dig into this and make it part of the way you do things.”

And finally I think we want to make sure you know that if you would like a free tour of the whole Rapid Learning System, you can just let us know and we’ll be happy to have one of our folks kind of walk you through and answer questions and so on and so forth.

So that is it pretty much for today’s session. I hope you have enjoyed it. I hope you got some information here that’s going to be helpful to you. And I hope you enjoy your trial of the Rapid Learning Center. Have a great afternoon and rest of the week.

Operator: Thank you for attending today’s conference.

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