“Prospecting” on the Sales Continuum

Business-to-business salespeople frequently complain about long sales cycles.  It just seems to take so long for prospects to make their decisions.  Unfortunately, your prospect may be a top priority for you, but it is unlikely that you are a top priority for your prospect.

It’s important to remember that you enter their complex lives somewhere along several continuums of ongoing operations.  Some of your prospects are really just preoccupied.  There is nothing wrong with you or your product.  They are just buried in other important decisions.  Think about it.  Would you be receptive to a decision about advertising specialties if you were busy implementing a major computer change?  Would you be receptive to changing your approach to marketing if you were busy interviewing candidates to fill key positions in your company?

Sometimes, a prospect is at the not yet point in the continuum.  You have their attention, but they still can’t stop what they are doing to deal with you.  These prospects will want time to complete priorities they currently have in motion before being asked to take on anything new–even you.

Some of your prospects will be at the considering point on the continuum.  If you have been consistent in your messages, the prospect will now be learning about what you do and have to offer as their time permits.

Finally, some of your prospects will be at the ready point on the continuum.  These prospects recognize your product/services as a high priority and are ready to discuss details.

A healthy sales pipeline has a great mix of prospects at each point of this readiness continuum.  That way you do not feel compelled to approach all of your prospects as though they should be ready to buy. That is important because pushing a preoccupied prospect will feel like you are being disrespectful of their priorities and needs.

So often, sales people tend to group their prospects by the products or services they want.  Since different sales approaches are needed for prospects at each point in the continuum, it can be much more effective to group prospects into four groups preoccupied, not yet, considering, and ready.

Momentum is important for most sales people.  It is much easier to get “on a roll” when you can use similar approaches with a series of prospects.  For example, it can be a good idea to move from “vendor” status to “advisor” status when dealing with considering prospects, but if you mix your prospects up and “advise” a ready prospect, you risk the sale by wasting their time when they just wanted to make a purchase.

 

Known as The Growth Strategist®, Aldonna R. Ambler, CMC, CSP helps businesses in Achieving Accelerated Growth With Sustained Profitability® through a combination of speaking, consulting, executive coaching, authorship and growth financing.  Aldonna has been named one of New Jersey’s 25 Women of Influence.  Aldonna can be reached at www.GrowthStrategistShow.com or 1-888-253-6662.

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