As salespeople who work with homeowners, we sometimes fall into the trap of thinking that our most important job is to create quotes. We may decide to do as many quotes as possible, email those quotes and leave lots and lots of messages—all in the hope that prospects will hunt us down and tell us they’ve decided to buy.
Instead, our job is to start conversations that generate decisions—small decisions at first, and bigger decisions as the sales process moves forward. That’s the objective of effective follow through: to create more conversations that lead to a clear decision. If you can do that consistently, and monitor your progress toward your income goals as you do, then your numbers will be on track. If you don’t, they won’t be.
Bottlenecks and Short Sales Cycles
Most manufacturers know about bottlenecks. Those are the places in the manufacturing process that are slower than the rest. Bottlenecks constrain manufacturers’ ability to make products. Rather than worry about the entire manufacturing process, they focus on removing bottlenecks to increase capacity and decrease costs.
Selling to homeowners is a process as well. Bottlenecks can plague salespeople and reduce their effectiveness. For example, consider follow-up calls. If a salesperson could close all his sales in one appointment rather than two, his sales capacity would double. Simple math, right? Yet this kind of math is not at all obvious to most sales teams selling to homeowners. They think they should invest extra effort tracking down prospects hoping to get a sale.
Look more closely at your own process. Identify the good prospects so you can focus your efforts on them and shorten your sales cycle. Which is easier: to make your sales process twice as efficient, or to double the number of estimates you provide? We say it’s shortening your cycle! Even if you don’t have many leads, you can free yourself up to do more prospecting.
Sometimes bottlenecks are not that obvious. For instance, many sales processes are stalled by the estimating process. Salespeople think they have to go back to the office and work up complex calculations. Designers or engineers think they have to create drawings or conduct analysis. While these actions may not always be within the control of the salesperson, they can and do slow down the selling process.
Time Kills Deals
Here’s the point: If the client says he wants to buy, make it easy for him to do so – now! Many salespeople choose the more time-consuming, deal-killing option of accepting a verbal agreement … and then setting up another meeting. They go back to the office, retrieve an agreement and then bring it back to the homeowner to sign. They are adding unnecessary steps to their own sales process—and losing sales! Use whatever technology you can to obtain the formal agreement on the spot.
Occasionally we hear salespeople say, “I lost the deal for reasons out of my control.” They explain that the homeowner lost their job, or someone got sick, or the competition came out with a new product.
It doesn’t really matter. Time was under their control.
The longer the sales cycle, the greater the likelihood that these “uncontrollable” events will occur. That’s today’s world.
The more efficient you are with your time, the more money you make. You have control over your schedule, and your pay is a function of your success at consistently exerting that control.
Not all prospects will cooperate. Some will refuse any aspect of your attempts to set the agenda; some will push back when you outline the steps of your sales process. Some will refuse to cooperate with you even though it is clearly in their best interests to do so. While all this may be frustrating, you can still learn from the situation. Begin to notice, learn, rank, and prioritize the prospect’s willingness to cooperate!
Four Levels of Prospect Cooperation
- Level 4: Demands quote with no promise of further discussion, phone call or action.
- Level 3: Agrees to review estimate on the phone; you send an email while you are both on phone.
- Level 2: Agrees to clear next step with a future meeting in-person to decide on the estimate.
- Level 1: Agrees to make a decision before the meeting is over.
Of the four groups outlined above, which group do you think should win the lion’s share of your time? Obviously – it’s the Level 1 people!
Excerpted from the book SELLING TO HOMEOWNERS THE SANDLER WAY. Copyright © 2015 Sandler Systems, Inc. All rights reserved.