There are some of us that still recall the days before any technology hit the business world and that one of the selling points was that we would be able to increase the speed that business is done and further, we would become a paperless society.
Well, there seems to be a great spasm between what was promised and what actually is happening today. First, I submit to you the need for paper has actually increased, and secondly, while some functions have become extremely more streamlined such as inventory control, invoicing, and immediate communications with a paper trail, the decision-making process has increased.
We make decisions every day. Some very small and almost inconsequential, such as the decision to get out of bed in the morning. The fact is that in those good old days, which was not that far back, the number of people required to make a decision was one or two. Research today, CEB, states that it now takes an average of 5.4 people sign off on a purchase. Some call it progress, while some have other words for it.
Therefore, if a decision is required from your prospect or client, you must understand how the process ties together. One difference between a salesperson and a true sales professional is based on how much of their process you do know. These include:
- Do you know what the process is? Do they need to get competitive quotes? Will there be discussions with a board? Can they make the decision at the end of your presentation? I hear your question; “How do we find this out?” Again, another difference between a salesperson and sales professional ask: “May I ask, what is your decision-making process as it pertains to purchases of this nature?”
- When you go in to make the presentation, will all the decision makers be present? If not, why would you make the presentation? Without the decision makers present you may need to go back multiple times; plus, do you feel completely confident that those present would be able to answer all the questions that the decision makers will ask? Having decision makers at the table is handled through having an effective CAP (Customer Approved Protocol) established while setting up the appointment. CAP is taught through The Action Suite and is one of the most powerful tools one can have in order to hold effective, productive and efficient meetings.
- When decisions are not made immediately, there are many ways to make sure that your presentation is put into the favorable position. However, nothing can happen unless you know when the decision is going to be made. In other words, if you don’t know the date and time of the final decision then you are the salesperson and not the sales professional. Again, you may be wondering how you would find out? It is simple, ASK. You have to get a definite day and time in order to put into place the follow-up which is required to make sure your proposal is looked at more than once. By the way, next week or in a few days is not a day and time. Those techniques have allowed members of The Action Suite to win more proposals than they ever have in the past.
You cannot make progress without having a decision. However, if you don’t know how decisions are made how would you know if one was not already made?