You know that prospects and customers are crazy-busy nowadays, and that the pace of business is faster than ever. That being the case, slowing down the sales process might seem like giving an edge to the competition.
But there are good reasons to do so. In fact, while it’s counterintuitive, slowing down can actually result in more and better sales. Here are five reasons why:
1. You learn more about the customer’s real needs
The mistake too many salespeople make is trotting out their solution too soon – often in the first conversation with a prospect.
Problem is, at that point it’s possible that the prospect does not fully understand his or her real needs, or all the related issues involved in implementing a good solution.
You may have heard that 70% of prospects have done their own front-end research before even calling in a sales rep. But that doesn’t mean they’ve done the right research or addressed the root causes of their problem.
If you take the time to understand customers’ needs – and help them dig deeper – you’ll pick up valuable knowledge that will help frame your solution around their business objectives. When you can link your offering to specific needs, you add credibility to your solution.
Bottom line: Only by taking the time to dig can you answer the question: “Why should I buy from you?”
2. You improve their buying process
Prospects may think they have a solid buying process in place when you come to call. But that doesn’t mean it’s so.
For example, we’ve all seen situations in which a prospect buying on price didn’t think about the ultimate cost. Sometimes it can help to back up and look at the earlier steps in their buying process.
Example: A multi-location healthcare operation planned to upgrade to 600 flat screen monitors at nursing stations and patient rooms. Since they thought of monitors as a commodity purchase, price was a primary driver.
A sharp sales rep asked questions they had not considered: “Is the IT department going to install these monitors? What will that cost in pay and benefits? What will the task take them away from? Will they have to travel? Where will you store all these monitors in the meantime?” The result: A signed deal for installation, at a healthy profit margin.
If you feel buyers are overlooking a key factor, mention it this way: “Other customers have discovered this problem triggers XYZ issues. Have you come across that?” You add value when you help customers rethink their buying process.
3. You build urgency
Ironically, “slowing down” creates a more compelling sense of urgency. When customers realize that the problem (or the opportunity) is bigger than they realized, they will put a higher value on your solution – and want to take action faster.
When you get customers talking about what they think they need, or uncover new needs and priorities, you can explore not only the impact but the ripple effects. That could lead to more sales, either immediately or as part of add-on projects later.
4. You shape the best solution for the prospect
When you know more about the prospect’s problems and history, you are well positioned to orchestrate a solution that fits his or her initial and ongoing needs more effectively.
That applies whether or not you’re the first salesperson through the door, whether or not they’ve done a ton of Internet research already, or even shopped the deal to your competitors.
5. You can make sure expectations are realistic
We’ve all dealt with customers who have pie-in-the-sky expectations about how our product or service will help solve their problems. That is a made-to-order recipe for disappointment, even if your solution delivers as advertised.
Expectation management is another payoff from slowing down the sales process. You keep the prospect from drinking the Kool-Aid when it comes to unrealistic expectations.
Consider framing a question like this: “Look ahead six months or a year from now. How will you know if the decision you are making today is successful?”
If the response is unrealistic, you can help shape a discussion around what’s realistic and achievable. One way is to put together an action plan and timetable with metrics to let buyers visualize the end result and track progress toward it.
For you, the end result of a slower process is (1) a more satisfied customer, who is likely to buy more and refer you to others, and (2) a competitive edge. All because you took your time, and helped buyers make a better decision.
Source: Based on a posting by Kevin Davis. To learn more visit www.toplineleadership.com
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