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Staying in Control of The Sales Cycle

You’re out of control of the sales cycle when the next step is decided by the customer or prospect. When I debrief with a new salesperson I often hear them refer to appointments that end with customer comments like these:

“I will call you next month”
“We will get back with you”
“We’ll take a look at things and let you know”
“We’ll have to see what is in the budget”
“Thanks, we have other proposals to recieve”

To regain sales cycle control you need to do the following:

Define a more specific follow up point: ex. “Will I be hearing from you in the earlier, middle or latter part of the month?”  “So I know how to follow up, when should I check back with you if I don’t hear from you?”

Understand their buying process: ex. “Is there anything else you need from me to help you make a decision?”  and “What are the steps you’ll be going through to make your decision?”

Confirm understanding and gain agreement to follow-up: ex. “What I understand is you will need to meet with your management team to discuss proposals and confirm budget.  Then you will make your decision and get back with me by the middle of next month.  If I don’t hear from you by the 18th, I will give you a call in case you need additional information.  Would that be okay?”

Sometimes you need to let go: If your prospect is unwilling to make a commitment or confirm your understanding it could be a sign to put them back on your marketing drip list. You can also search for a buyer with more authority in the organization. If someone is not responding or willing to move things along they either lack motivation or power. Move on.

When you help a customer define their timeline and process, you are serving them.  That is part of Service-Minded Selling.  Confirming your understanding and gaining agreement on your follow-up demonstrates your listeing skills and professionalism. Taking the time to ask these questions will help you be more productive, professional and close more deals.

Rene is the President of Sales Manager Now, a company that provides fractional sales management services to small and family-run businesses. He has twenty-seven years of experience in sales leadership, coaching, and consulting. He is also the author of the Part-Time Sales Management handbook and is based in Auburn, California.

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