There are two types of “time” that are at issue. The first is the elapsed time that it takes to move a prospect from initial contact to closing the deal. The second is the work-hoursthat you actually spend on that opportunity. Most sales reps focus on the elapsed time, believing that they can influence the customer to buy more quickly.

However, in most cases, the customer already has a time frame in which they intend to buy. Because of this, efforts to “speed the process along” are usually a waste of time. As such, they add to the number of work hours that the rep spends on the account, with no particular payback.

  • TWEAK #18: Focus on work hours, not elapsed time. Focus instead on the “work-hours” that you spend on each account. Find ways to make your interactions with each customer more intense and more productive. Schedule multiple meetings on a single visit. Use web-conferencing to reach remote individuals. Don’t reduce the amount of service you’re providing; just find a way to spend fewer work-hours doing it.
  • TWEAK #19: Find the trigger events. While you’re interviewing and meeting with decision-makers, try to find out if there is a “compelling event” which will actually trigger the buying process. For example, a prospect might have a certain amount of budget to spend in the current quarter, in which case the “compelling event” would be the end of the quarter – after which the money will disappear. Similarly, a prospect might be waiting for an order from a large customer before making a purchase of additional component.
  • TWEAK #20: Arrange your schedule to match. As you learn more about your customer’s buying process, and the compelling events that will cause them to buy, schedule your activities backwards from that event, so that you spend the right amount of time (neither more nor less) developing the opportunity. That help ensure that every moment you spend with the prospect (soon to be customer) is productive.

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