In previous posts I shared how time and your treatment of it have a direct impact on your selling results and success. How allocating time is a much more productive than efforts invested in trying to manage it; shifting time to help you and your buyer do more with a finite and non-renewable resource.
Since time is constant, and always a key part of the success equation, there are other ways for sellers to leverage time for success. One is the use of deadlines and critical milestones. A specific point in time creates focus all around. Once firmed up it can help the buyer prioritize their actions, resources and decisions in order to deliver by the given date. One of the most important components of an effective and successful Discovery stage and process, is understanding and confirming the buyer’s decision/process. Core to this, is the buyer’s timelines and most importantly, deadlines. Remember, gaining efficiencies and advantages by shifting time, is one of the key drivers for people making purchase decisions. To add impact, drive to establish and confirm not only when they need to make decision by, but when they expect the benefit of the purchase to materialize.
The purchase is an incidental piece of a bigger thing unfolding. Whatever you’re selling, the important time for the buyer is when they will get material benefit from using what you are selling, not the actual purchase of your offering. If putting your machine on the floor will:
- Reduce errors in production by 5%
- Which in turn means lower cost of production
- Which leads to improved margins (don’t forget sometimes improved margins may be a direct objective for the director you are dealing with, which leads to a direct financial bonus for the buyer)
- And the buying organization has set a margin target for end of next quarter
The end of the next quarter is a more prevailing a deadline than the slated purchase date. You can leverage both to create focus, having both “project” deadline and expected benefit deadline. Even when they may not have a formal buying/decision making process, having a timeline can be very powerful focal point; and most have a sense of time. Of course if they don’t it is a powerful clue that you may not be dealing with a serious prospect, even when they may have a decision process, but seems no need to make a decision now!
It is also important when you run into reluctance to change; having the deadline will help you accentuate the risk of inaction. This may not be that important to “be found” sellers, but for real sales people, it can help you calm a client by focusing on the upside of the projected benefit, and the risk associated with standing still; not easy, but if it was they wouldn’t need us. Having that point in time, helps you work backwards to where they are now, and create urgency and more importantly action – execution. Once you develop this skill, you’ll be able to work backwards in very effective way, most specifically in “if you don’t act by this date, you will miss”.
And let’s not forget the importance of deadlines you create efficiencies in the way you sell and manage your pipeline. Deadlines help you prioritize execution. They also help you time sales out, if your average sales cycle is 6 weeks, you can set a deadline for expected close, and measure you execution against that, and if need be disqualify opportunities that are beyond deadline.
What’s in Your Pipeline?