In this fast-paced world, a lot of sales teams have a high-speed mentality. But it turns out that being fast isn’t always best. It seems counter-intuitive, but one of the best ways to increase revenue and improve deal velocity is to slow down during the early stages of the sales process.
A trend we often find when we work with clients to increase sales production is salespeople who rush to the proposal stage, eager to get to the punch line. Once there, they realize they may not have set the stage well enough. They didn’t discover enough compelling reasons for the client to close the deal and they're not set up to succeed. It’s like a child telling a joke but getting the setup wrong. The punch line is going to fall flat.
Even seasoned veterans can fall victim to this mistake. It can be hard to slow down and make sure you really understand the value the potential customer will receive, and what it means specifically for their business.
For salespeople, the setup involves asking questions. A lot of questions. It can mean many conversations with different people to really get to the heart of the matter -- why does this client need what I have to offer? Here are some questions you can start with ...
10 Questions To Effectively Slow Down Your Sales Process
Regarding the business problem you are looking to solve:
How long has it been an issue for this company? When did they first notice it?
What have they done to try to address it? How has that worked?
How much did that cost them?
What are they planning to try next?
Regarding the impact of failing to solve the problem:
How will it impact them financially? (E.g. Lost sales, increased costs, missed opportunities, upset customers, damage to their reputation…) Quantify the impact by getting hard numbers, not just adjectives.
How will it impact their operations? Does it slow down their workflow or lower their quality of service? Does it require people to do things they shouldn’t need to do? What would those people being doing if they were not working on this issue?
Regarding the people who care about this problem:
Who could lose their job if this doesn’t get fixed?
Who are the other stakeholders I should be talking to?
Is there anyone who will be threatened by our proposal so I can understand their concerns?
Who is our strongest advocate?
Who has budget authority? How do they typically make this type of decision?
When pressed, many of the salespeople who have attended our Must Win Deal workshops can’t answer all of these questions. They quickly realize that they went through the discovery stage of the sales process way too fast. They didn’t explore all the issues. They didn’t quantify all of the compelling reasons to change. They didn’t meet with all the key stakeholders. They missed a lot of critical information because they took sales shortcuts. Not being able to answer the 10 questions above is a sign of a broken sales process. The good news is that once you identify where your sales team is struggling, you can take steps to fix the sales process.
So slow down and invest more time in the conversations at the early and mid-stage sales meetings. Have you had an experience when you wished you had slowed down and covered more bases? Or maybe a deal that you closed because of a particular detail you are glad you knew? Or maybe just a bad joke! Share them in the comments.
Originally published May 19, 2014 8:00:00 AM, updated June 15 2021