I just had a great discussion with the VP of sales of a a client firm of mine, who was lamenting the lack of urgency his sales people exhibit in hitting their stride early on in the year and their inability to accelerate sales cycles. No doubt, it has become harder to push prospects towards a close sooner, but both buyers and sales people seem to unnecessarily elongate this journey. Let's take a look at urgency from both sides of the aisle.
Urgency is defined by Merriam-Webster as "Insistence, a force or impulse that impels or constrains". Urgency is also well put in Coveys's "First Things First" as a "Time Based Criteria".
It is "urgent" for the seller because they need the sale this month or this quarter to make 'quota'. It's not urgent for the buyer, in many cases, not spending is seen as "saving". Therefore it's positive for the buyer to wait. Urgency, is in the eye of the beholder.
I often hear the same refrain: "Our prospects are too busy, they want me to "check in" in a month, they love our product but won't buy, they went silent, etc". And yet sales teams keep all these "deals" in their pipeline in perpetuity, worse, including them in their sales forecast - unwilling to let any of these "opportunities" go. They diligently follow up, talking about a "relationship" with the prospect - just to be given the run-around and the cold shoulder again. Sounds familiar?
After pipeline assessments with sales teams, I often find that many of these deals die on the vine because no sense of urgency or motivation to change ever existed.
If as salespeople we fail to communicate the consequences of how much they stand to lose/risk every day, week or month they defer the decision - our prospects won't abolish the status quo. Remember, you are a pain management specialist, it's your job as a sales person to help them succeed, find the root issue, create urgency and position your offering as the solution to their problem(s). Many sales people are afraid to rock the boat, quietly tip-toe around hot button issues as to not upset the prospect and lose the deal. Guess what?
You are a hunter, mover and shaker - a strategic adviser and change agent - not a singing gondolier romancing your buyer by playing it safe!
Playing it safe won't solve your prospect's problems and definitely won't help you close the deal this quarter! You actually have done a great disservice to your prospect - they lose something every day they defer a decision. We need to give buyers a tangible reason to act now, so they take an action step and move forward in the sales cycle. No communicated adverse impact on their business - no deal.
The best motivation is their quantified lost opportunity cost - whether it is increased revenue, lower expenses or improved efficiencies or customer service.
Your job is to make sure the prospect understands the cost of doing nothing. I have been as guilty as the next guy when it comes to keeping a deal in the pipeline that is not moving forward. Nurturing long-term opportunities is all fine and good, but why waste time justifying a deal that may not close until QU 2 of 2016?
Time is better spent finding someone who wants to buy from us now. Filling the pipe with people who, 1) have a need, 2) a sense of urgency, and, 3) understand the cost of doing nothing is key. You need to educate them on the value of that need, and by doing so you shorten the sales cycle and sell more.
While urgency is a prerequisite to move a deal forward, you also need a shared vision of success.
Especially when selling to large organizations, you need to enable buyers to sell your value story internally as well. The more people and influencers are involved in the decision making, the lower the tendency of risk taking. Consider that when crafting your sales value proposition and call to action.
Rock your buyers' boat, be professionally blunt and illustrate the cost of doing nothing - create urgency and enable change. Help them snap out of comfortable inaction and do what's best for their business. It's not about your numbers - it's about your customers' success.
Wishing you success,
Value Strategy Group