There’s something watching our every move. It casts a dark, deceptive and often destructive shadow upon each and every salesperson as they go about their day. It threatens to wreak havoc in the most insidious and unexpected ways. It is the perfect ally to have on your side, but it often stands as a formidable and unforgiving adversary. It cannot be bought or owned, yet it is yours to use as you like.
As you may have guessed, I’m talking about the most scarce resource of all – ‘time’.
Obviously, if you had more time you could talk with more prospects or better prepare for your calls or presentations. More time would make it possible to set more goals and put more check-marks in the ‘done’ column. Time is the enemy however, when it comes to creating opportunities and closing deals in the pipeline. That’s because time is a deal killer. This is the one factor you can’t afford to ignore. In general, the longer it takes for a party to sign-off on your paperwork or proposal, the more chance there is of the deal ‘going south.’ Time flying by gives rise to many potential deal-killing events:
- Prospects’ priorities change
- Budgets get down-sized or eliminated
- Decision-makers change roles, or jobs
- Doubts or reservations set in, the competition seizes the opportunity
- Prospects lose focus (on your products or solutions and the value they bring)
The imperative is to generate more time for some things (creating more opportunities) while reducing or eliminating the time spent on others (chasing paperwork to close deals).
Boost the Time Available for Creating Opportunities
The ability to create net-new time defies all laws of the natural world. It just isn’t possible. On the other hand, it is possible to free-up time by becoming far more efficient, thereby accomplishing or producing more in the same amount of time. Here are 3 tricks and tips for improving efficiency when it comes to creating opportunities:
- Use tools: Tools like Social Selling and Marketing Automation (to name just two) can increase the likelihood of contacting the right people at the right time—when they have the highest propensity to buy.
- Evaluate your processes: Identify which tasks in your workflow consistently slow you down and which can be eliminated. For instance, eSignatures can eliminate up to 10 steps in the signing process reducing the time it takes to obtain a signed contract from weeks to hours.
- Eliminate and delegate: Don’t contact prospects that will never buy. If your solution isn’t applicable to companies under a certain size, don’t call them! If you don’t know the company size of each prospect on your list (in this example), delegate the task of finding out.
Time vs momentum
“Fell off the radar.”
“Disappeared into thin air.”
If you say similar things to describe a prospect, it’s a pretty good sign that the deal is either losing momentum, or has vaporized altogether (and you didn’t get the memo). The more time that passes—especially given every prospect’s ultra-busy agenda—the more the deal-momentum is at risk of slowing to the point that your prospect forgets why they were interested to begin with. To protect against that happening, here are 3 pointers for slashing the time it takes to close deals:
- Implement intelligent persistence: Know where your contracts are in the signing process and stay on top of each step with confidence.
- Eliminate barriers: Every deal will have bumps in the road-to-closing. Make sure you’ve foreseen and eliminated any and every bump that can be reasonably anticipated.
- Provide Ammunition: Anticipate uncertainties and doubts your prospect may face from colleagues and decision influencers. Give them the ammunition they’ll need to address each one.
No matter how intensely interested your prospect professes to be and no matter how far down the sales process they have endeavored to go, every opportunity is at risk of falling victim to time. Manage every deal in your pipeline as if an invisible force was plotting to turn it into stone. Remember, time isn’t a friend or a foe. It’s both all at once.
Author, Nancy Nardin is the foremost expert in sales productivity tools. As President of Smart Selling Tools, she consults with many of the top sales productivity software vendors as well as end-user organizations looking to select the right tools. Click to get Nancy’s What & When weekly digest with invitations to complimentary webinars and informative publications. Follow Nancy on Twitter @sellingtools or subscribe to her Tool Talk blog. Nancy can be reached at 916-596-3035. To schedule a free 30 minute consultation.