Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Advance the Sale: How to Sell More in Less Time

Would you like to make every contact count?
Find out how to make even the most basic contact move you further down the sales cycle. In today's blog we're covering an article originally written by sales trainer Jim Domanski.

There are only four outcomes to any sales situation:
- a sale
- no sale
- a continuance, and..
- an advance

The first two outcomes are easy to comprehend.
But the line between continuance and advance is the line between mediocre reps and immensely successful reps. If you're interested in reducing the sales cycle, working on better qualified leads and generating more sales, pay attention.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of reps are superb at 'continuing' a sale.
A continuance is where it appears that the sale cycle is being closed but in reality, it is only being extended.
This is sometimes a tough concept for reps to understand.
Here are some examples to illustrate what I mean:
" I'll send you some product brochures in the mail "
" I will give you a call sometime next week to discuss the proposal "
" Give the sample a try and we'll review it later on "
" I'll fax you the material and we'll go over it "
" Let's meet sometime next month and we'll assess your need then "

On the surface, these statements would suggest that the sale is moving forward.
Not so. Did you notice the two common denominators?
There is no firm commitment on behalf of the prospect or customer to take specific action.
There is no firm follow up date.
Some sales will, of course, occur but if you are interested in getting more sales in less time, and if you would like to disqualify those clients who are not actually interested in your product or service, then you must learn to 'advance' the sale.

Advance: The advance differs from a continuance in that it gets the client to take a specific action within a given time frame.
Here's how the above examples would look/sound like with an advance:

I'll send you a product brochure on Nite-White in the mail and what I would like to recommend is that we review these together next Thursday. How does 10:15 look to you?

I'll give you a call next week to discuss the MEA proposal. Suppose we schedule Wednesday at 2:20?

I'll be glad to provide you with an Atrium sample. Specifically when will you use it? What is the criteria for evaluation? What I would like to recommend is that we set up an appointment for Friday, at 8:30 a.m. to review your evaluation. How does that sound?

I'll fax over the material right now. Can you review them so that we go over documents together in about 45 minutes?Let's set up an appointment for next month, say the 15th, at 2:45. At that time we can reassess your situation. Is that date okay with you?

Do you see the difference?
Each example suggests a specific action that must or should be taken by the client.
This creates active participation from the client which moves the sale further through the cycle. Next, each example has a specific time frame for the accomplishment of the action which creates commitment. This is a powerful one-two sales punch. If...If the client will NOT commit to any action or follow up, it suggests that perhaps their interest is not particularly strong at this point in time. If the client will NOT commit to the action, then withdraw the advance.

For example:
Mrs. Huxtable, I get the impression that perhaps now is not the best time to send the literature. If it is not possible to set up a review date, perhaps it would be best if we waited and I call you at a later date.

It takes guts to do this but what it really does is allow you to focus only on genuine sales opportunities. By qualifying your opportinities on timing in addition to revenue potential, you prevent yourself from wasting time 'watering dead plants'.

Happy selling!

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