How's Your Swing?

It’s baseball season and I’m rooting for the Red Sox.  Here’s a problem I often have in the game of sales:

I’m swinging at the wrong time—either too soon or too late—which puts a big dent in my batting average.

I swing too soon if I don’t know where my prospect is in the buying cycle.  Today buyers are in charge, identifying and qualifying solutions before a sales rep even gets in the batter’s box.

That means beware of the conventional sales process. What’s important is to determine whether prospects are window shopping—just looking, in the store, in the dressing room or walking out with the shopping bag.

If prospects are window-shopping it’s way too early to force any kind of sales process on them.  In this phase it’s important to determine what—if anything– might trigger them to move to the shopping phase.

If prospects are in the store shopping and you reach for your sales process, don’t be surprised if they grab control of the conversation and fire questions (hidden objections).  They are well into the buying process and that means they have already researched their options.  If you don’t determine their decision making criteria VERY early on in the conversation you can end up validating their choice to buy from a competitor.  This is the stage where you should take a swing, but not unless the advisor has given you the clear go ahead that he is interested in looking at another option.

If prospects are in the dressing room it’s probably be too late.  In this scenario, buyers are trying on pre-researched solutions and are in the elimination phase. This is often where wholesalers pull out their best performance numbers.  But at this stage the buyer is eager to make a final decision vs. entertain new information.  You need to determine besides performance what is important to them.  The fit has to be just right and unless you are privy to why they eliminated some options you are at a disadvantage. Unless your product is substantially better (and that may be something other than performance) it may be best not to swing at all–establish trust for future opportunities, and reaffirm the buyer’s choice of a competitor.

If they have the shopping bag in hand, they’ve already made the decision and it’s not a good use of time on your part to talk them out of something they just decided on.

Agree?  Disagree?  Input?

Mary Anne Doggett