Some sales transactions take just a few minutes from beginning to end; others drag on for months. Whether long or short, they all consist of discrete customer buying stages. At all times during the selling process, you need to know where buyers are in these stages and manage your selling process to best fit each of them. Rush a step in the customer buying stages, or skip a step, and you may never recover.
Sales managers, business owners and reps themselves are always seeking ways to shorten their sales cycle. A shorter sales cycle means fewer time-consuming steps to close, revenue generated sooner, and more closes per month. But is it really possible to shorten your average sales cycle without losing too many deals? Yes, because small improvements at key steps can make the difference.
The challenge is the same for every salesperson: What it will take to capture the customer’s imagination and allow you and your solutions stand out among the competition? Is it product features? Is it price? Is it how long your company has been in business? Maybe, but mostly it is the personal qualities that you, as a sale pro, bring to the relationship.
Choice Paralysis (or Analysis Paralysis or “The Paradox of Choice” as Barry Schwartz calls it) results when buyers are confronted with so many decisions that they end up walking away, too confused to reach a decision. Here I offer you one buying decision example where too many choices killed the sale, and another where skillful management of choice led to a close.
With more information available to us on products and companies, plus the growing range of online shopping venues, customer loyalty retention has become more difficult to sustain. So senior management, and especially customer service departments, must have a greater understanding of what their customers really want.
How frustrating it is when you do everything right, and then the customer goes elsewhere. When this happens, the cause is often not the fit of your solutions or the quality of your company. Buying from your competition can often be a signal that you are failing on some important human qualities that customers need to confidently buy from you.
For those of us who truly care about our customers and make that care apparent to them, the good news is that so many other salespeople just focus on the deal, and do not demonstrate this same caring. Customers are, after all, just people like the rest of us. They need to feel good about themselves, and they prefer to do business with people who make them feel special.
Buyer’s remorse can make customers regret a purchase right after it is made. It can sometimes lead to their cancelling the order or returning the goods after delivery. That’s why, even when you perfectly meet the needs of customers, you must take extra steps to help them feel good about their buying decisions.
Flip a fair coin 100 times, and it should come up “heads” close to 50 times. But during those 100 flips, there may be several heads or tails in a row. The same is true in sales; we may experience a series of failures or successes in a row, and it’s no more than a statistical anomaly.