I often find myself pounding the table with sales teams, exhorting them to “make the sales process explicit!” But what the heck does this mean?
Sometimes, in an effort to be efficient, we pivot so quickly and smoothly from phase to phase in our sales processes that we end up leaving our clients behind. And this is how things stall. If a client starts to feel uncomfortable with how fast things are moving, it’s often not because they can’t or won’t make a decision, it’s that we haven’t done a good job calling out where we are in the decision process and giving them room to object or ask questions.
A strong relationship is built by being transparent. For example, letting a client know: ”This has been a very helpful meeting. Based on our discussion, here’s where we are in the process, and here are a couple of thoughts about where we head from here. Does that sound right?” This is called a “check” (remember the Purpose/Benefit/Check ?). When you do this consciously and well, you are essentially calling the briefest of timeouts. You are making a full stop in your sales process. Think about it from the client’s perspective. Your client is thinking; ”Hey, this person understands me and is giving me the chance to stop action or express concerns. I like that.”
In more colloquial terms, he/she is thinking; “I’m not being manipulated to an outcome that I don’t want.”
When we are building relationships and selling, we must make certain that we are checking in with our clients at each phase of the process: between qualifying and determining fit; between determining fit and proposing; between proposing and closing; and even within the phases themselves.
By making the process explicit, you are giving the client room to move and asking for permission to create a stronger relationship. Is there another way?