As the Market Drops, Don’t Be a Closer

The sky is falling.

Well, the stock market and many of the great behemoth financial firms that I have sold to over the last dozen years are. Let’s say many of us are not in the most upbeat mood right now.

And how does this “macro economic tension” tend to show up in sales organizations? Concern over making our numbers. And that concern over making numbers makes tense sales people. Tense sales people that tend to put too much pressure on their prospects to sign on the dotted line.

People love to buy but they hate to be sold. Sales cycles don’t really exist what really exists is a buying cycle. In our world of so many options for the buyer, we need to face facts that it’s the buyer who controls the “sales process” not the seller.

The sales person’s job (actually the whole company behind the sales person) is to be in-sync with buyer at whatever point the buyer is in the buying cycle. A typical buying cycle might look like this: (1)recognition of a need, (2) seek out options, (3) discuss/evaluate options and (4) buy.

A sales person who tries to close the buyer when they are not in phase 4 of the buying cycle will annoy the prospect/buyer and won’t get a deal. But that’s what “old school selling” tells us to do “always be closing”. Watch out because as the pressure mounts on us sales executives to close more the opposite is happening for the buyer. As the market fear grows buyers will be thinking “should I really pull the trigger on this spend or should I hold off”. The last thing that will help a cautious buyer commit is a pushy sales person!

What’s a sales person to do?

Calm down. Don’t try to close everything in sight. Stay in-sync with your prospects. Make sure you know where they are in the buying cycle. Act accordingly. If they are just starting to look at options, get them the information they need to understand and evaluate your offering.

And…prospect. Yes, whenever things get tougher in the economy sales people need to be able to put more leads into their sales funnel. You will need more prospects because either some deals will drop out due to budgets being cut etc. or some of the deals that survive will move more slowly to close than you originally thought.

You will need to “diversify” your sales pipeline as the market gets more volatile just as an investor diversifies their stock portfolio. You will want more prospects in your sales pipeline than when times were “easy”. Preferably prospects from lots of different companies and industries so your risks of being clobbered by any one company’s or any one industry’s budget cuts are reduced.

So as things get tougher don’t become a closer. Become an opener.

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