Your sales prospects don’t know how to be good prospects. They don’t ignore you out of spite. They don’t avoid sharing their proposal decisions to annoy you. They do those things because they don’t know how to be good prospects.
Prospects know they want to buy something, but they don’t always know what to buy, and they don’t know how to figure out what’s best for their company. They get stuck in their own decision-making loop, frequently making no decision at all.
It’s your job to help your prospects be good prospects. It’s your job to guide them to make the right decision for them. Your prospects’ job is to be open, responsive, and move forward toward a decision in a timely manner.
The only way prospects can do their job, is if you’re good at your job. But many salespeople fail at moving their prospects toward a decision. What can you do to close sales faster?
Sales is a process. Throughout, you must have defined next steps to keep it moving along. That means you need to know what the next step is and communicate it. When you don’t know what your next step is and the prospect doesn’t know what their next step is, that’s when your sell cycle stalls. The competition gets in the door. The prospect fades silently away.
To guide your prospects in being good at their job as prospects, set expectations and tell them their next step – every time you talk with them. Take control and show them the path.
Use this checklist of questions to set prospects’ expectations, define next steps, and guide your prospects forward.
- Prospecting. When you close for the first appointment, do your prospects know what they can expect to discuss? Do they know the exact time and who should participate from their team? What do they need to prepare?
- The first meeting. You’ve gathered initial requirements, but do you have enough to write a proposal? What else do you need to know? Who else do you need to talk to in their organization? What information do you need from them? When will you talk again? What will you be doing? What do they need to do – exactly?
- The proposal presentation. After you present a proposal, do you clearly outline what they should do next to make a decision and the timeframe to complete it? Do you tell them what you will do next to help them make a decision? If there are changes to be made, do they know when to expect a revised proposal? Will you be presenting it or emailing it? Then what happens?
- The close. If they say “yes” to your proposal, do they know what happens next to move forward? If they say “no,” they still need to know what you will do next. Are you going to set another meeting for two months from now to check in? In either scenario, what will happen on your side and their side?
- No qualification. After a first meeting maybe there won’t be a second meeting. It’s not time to begin working together, or they’re not ready for you. What will you tell the prospect you will do next? What do you want them to do until you should re-engage? Even if you’re not going to reengage with them for six months, they need to know that. If they will never be qualified, what will you tell them to do?
Prospects need your guidance to help them be good prospects. As you set expectations and define next steps, you’ll instill confidence that you are the right person and the right company to work with now. Prospects will move through your sales process much faster, and your close rates will improve. Lead, and the results will follow.