How to Shorten Your Sales Cycle and Close More Sales

Here is a question I recently received from a worried salesperson: "Paul, I have a problem.  Four years ago, when I started in this position, my sales cycles were pretty short.  I was often able to get a customer to sign a contract within one to two months of our first meeting.  These days, it can take four to six months to finalize a contract! As far as I can tell, I am not doing anything different.  Customers just seem more reluctant to commit these days.  They push off making a decision for a "few weeks" and before I know it, a quarter has passed   What can I do to shorten my sales cycles?" Despite the popular idea that salespeople are all pushy and ruthless, most salespeople are … [Read more...]

Trigger Words that Get Customer Buy-In


As a salesperson, you need to be aware of the unconscious reactions that customers have to certain words.  You want to be careful to avoid words that will turn a customer off or put him or her on the defensive. When you say to a customer, “I’m here to show you how our products . . .” defenses immediately come up. Show is a negative trigger word. It signals alarm bells in customers' brains that you are going to bore them with samples or pamphlets or a PowerPoint presentation. Help is also a negative trigger word. Think of how many times you have walked into a retail store and an employee asked the question, “How can I help you?” What was your instinctive response? “Oh, I am fine, just … [Read more...]

Disrupting Existing Vendor Relationships


I recently met Sam, a young man who works as a salesperson in the rural Mid-West.  His company is the "new kid" in town, and he is having trouble gaining traction with locals.  Sam told me that in the past few months he has met with many prospects, and almost all of the meetings end the same way.  The prospect tells him, “It was great to meet you, but we have been using the same supplier for the last twenty years and we’re happy with them, so we just wouldn’t be interested in what you have to offer.”  Sam has not been able to come up with a way to reply to that statement that would keep the prospect from walking away. What should Sam do? Sam, and anyone in his shoes, should sell the … [Read more...]

How to Get Customers to Reveal their Budgets


A salesperson I was coaching came to me with this question: “I seem to be running into the same problem over and over, and I need your help. Too often, I put a proposal together for a customer, only to be told that my quote does not fit in to the budget. The problem is, in these cases I have specifically asked the customer about the budget before I crafted the proposal. Usually what happens is I have my initial meeting with the customer and before I leave, I ask them, “Do you have a budget in mind for this project?” The customer invariably answers with, “We are not sure what the budget is going to look like.” So I go back to my office and spend hours writing up a proposal for the customer. … [Read more...]

Avoid Getting Boxed into a Corner by Prospects


What do you do when your prospect won't introduce you to others in the organization?  You know that there must be other decision makers who will want to have input in the deal, but your prospect insists that you only need to talk to him. In order to get the information you want, you are going to have to ask your current contact some questions that might seem awkward.  You need to know who these other decision makers are, so that you can tailor your final sales presentation to their goals and concerns. Here are some questions/prompts that you could use to broach this issue (choose one or two): Help me to understand your decision making process. What is your time frame for making a … [Read more...]