Are You Too Patient With Prospects?

Timing is everything. Asking the right question at the wrong time can send the sales call in the wrong direction. On the other hand if you miss the opportunity to ask the right question, you may never get another chance. The correct amount of patience is required to be a top salesperson. In his blog Understanding the Sales Force Dave Kurlan writes:

When there is an excess of patience it always results in the salesperson accepting an endless number of stalls and put-offs, thereby lengthening the sales cycle, and shrinking the win rate. When there is an excess of impatience, … there will be a disproportionate number of prospects who become turned off, pissed off, or offended.

Actually, the real skill is in recognizing the roper time to say or do something it is not usually in what we say or do. Here are two examples. CASE 1 – Fred, a business owner for a service company had a prospect for a $700,000 contract. The prospect was a bank and they had certain steps they had to take to finalize the deal (site visit, management buy-in, board approval, etc) there. There was no competition and the price was set. They had settled on Fred as the supplier but they still had 2 or three hoops to jump through internally before signing the contract. Fred wanted the deal in September however the client was going to close November 1st give or take a few days. When the client came for the site visit September 20th, Fred tried to close them by offering a $20,000 discount (price was not an issue or a major factor in  the decision). It didn’t work. they gladly took the discount and closed on November 1st. Luckily for Fred, they were too far down the line with him to turn back. Had he done something similar earlier in the sales process he would have turned them off and they would have gone somewhere else.

CASE 2 – Rich was on a sales call with a large prospect who showed interest in his solution. It was early in the the relationship with this prospect. He discovered during the call that they had been talking to someone else about this solution 3 or 4 months back but higher headquarters had halted the project for a time to get some approvals lined up. Rich should have asked the prospect about the status of discussions with the competitor. For instance he could have asked “why not just go back to the people you were working with before?” This could be seen as an aggressive question, but the timing was right to ask it. Before Rich spends too much time on the deal, he should know whether the prospect was committed to the other vendor and just giving him a courtesy look or if he was dissatisfied with the competitors solution. THE RESULT – He can’t get the prospect on the phone or to respond to emails and a meeting they had set up got cancelled through the scheduling software. Rich was too patient (or scared) to ask the question.

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