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Almost anyone who is trying to sell has been taught that a faster pitch means a faster close. In fact, the reverse is true. No matter what it is you’re trying to sell, you can often speed up the customers’ buying process by slowing down your sales process.
One type of "speed mistake" is being passive while customers define their needs and then rushing straight to a solution when they are done. If you are not involved in helping customers define their needs, they are not likely to see your solution as a perfect fit. Instead, slow down your pitch. Get them to talk about the reasons they need a solution (hopefully exposing additional needs that your solution can meet in the process) and think about the consequences of inaction. Taking this slow road can shift the odds in your favor and make your customers more likely to buy, because they will see more value to making a change soon.
Here’s a second speed mistake: immediately starting to pitch your solution when prospects call. If you do so, you’ve failed to ask your prospect a vital question: What steps have you taken so far in your decision-making process? The answer is critical to helping you shape an appropriate response. Get prospects who have just started thinking about the idea to talk more about their needs and problems, so you can evaluate whether they are likely to become serious about purchasing.
With prospects who have already met with one or more of your competitors, have a good idea of what they want, and are now shopping for a good price, your hurdle is much higher, because they are basing their decision on buying criteria that one of your competitors likely helped to shape. If you can, get them to talk about their needs and see if you can find opportunities to introduce additional buying criteria (that your solution meets, naturally). If you can identify a new need late in the buying cycle, you can quickly go from laggard to leader in the customer’s eyes.
The mismatch between selling speed and buying speed is the root cause of many lost sales. Don’t make that mistake anymore. Take the time to look at the purchase through your customer’s eyes so you can do a better job of providing the right kinds of information at the right points in their buying process. Doing so will differentiate you from your competition.
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