Last week I wrote about the follies of having a shorter sales cycle, beyond the points highlighted, I think it raises another trend in sales these days. One that permeates many aspects of sales, starting at planning and territory alignment, right down to day-to-day tactical aspects of sales. Specifically, the tendency to talk long-term, but act short-term; the effect of which is usually negative on results.
You often hear sales leaders articulate their long-term plans, direction of the market, and how they plan to take a leadership role in many of the developments they outline. Yet many of those same people will sit and comb through their reps’ pipelines looking for instant gratification, taking their team to task for not closing one deal or another.
While I know some do it as a way that they think motivates their reps, and let’s be honest, many reps do get pumped. Unfortunately they then go and take it out on the client, not in an aggressive way, say like a hockey player all pumped up from the coach’s intermission banter, and then hit the ice and the first opponent they see. But in ways that sabotage the sale but scaring and/or alienating the buyer. One of the things I hear most often from people we train is that they want to create “urgency” in their buyers. But if that desire manifests itself in the wrong way, they tend to disaffect buyers.
Buyers, talk about someone who has a long-term view, while they do have deadline to meet, they are not tied to our quarterly performance. While it may present itself in other ways, one of the biggest causes of lost deals is being out of synch with the buyers timing, this misalignment is the silent killer in sales. If the seller gets ahead of the buyer, they risk coming across as aggressive, not caring about the buyer’s priorities or pushy. This generally happens in the first half of the sale, the Engage and Discovery stages. The seller has had the buyer in their sites for months, yet the buyer is just beginning to get involved in the process. In Discovery, the seller is ready to pitch and close, yet the buyer is still Defining their requirements.
The opposite of this happens when the seller gets behind the buyer, this happens with many reactive sellers, who don’t want to come across as being pushy, and see sales as a social event rather than a commercial one. So while they are waiting to be found by a “ready” customer, a proactive seller aligned with the buyer scoops up the deal. And by-the-way, the buyer is hip to the whole thing.
The answer is in how proactive an approach you take sales, and who you are engaging with. As highlighted in last week’s post, it is not about hurrying things, but executing the process with the right prospects; get enough of those in your pipeline, and you will be successful in the long-term, without pushing too hard in the near-term.
What’s in Your Pipeline?