(This article originally appeared on Deb Calvert’s blog)
Your days are packed. You are doing everything you can to stay on top of everything that’s asked of you. You have quota to make, leads to pursue, account issues to attend to, orders to place, reports to submit, and so much more every single day.
It’s only natural, then, for you to seize every opportunity you get to take a shortcut. Convenience, efficiency, time-saving and expedience are high value considerations when you make choices. In fact, you barely have time to make choices and decisions. With the time constraints you’re up against, you have no choice but to go with the options that take the least amount of time and effort.
Shortcuts taken by sellers include both internal and external timesavers. Internally, inside their own companies, sellers often do the bare minimums on paperwork and reporting, order entry, and inter-departmental communication. It’s practically a self-defense mechanism. And it’s widely accepted, maybe even encouraged at some companies. After all, sellers’ time in the field and with customers is to be protected.
Externally, though, shortcuts should never be encouraged. Taking a shortcut with a buyer means cutting out value for the customer, diminishing the buyer’s view of you and your company, taking risks that could have a steep price. Buyers can and do read sellers and their intentions. When you signal impatience, a desire to hurry through the transaction or a lackadaisical attitude of just wanting to get the job done and move on… your buyer will feel marginalized.
I see a lot of shortcuts taken by busy sellers. Here are five examples, all common enough that you may be able to identify with one or more of them in your own day-to-day activities.
1) A seller is taxed for time and the buyer is running late. The meeting starts late. Despite the seller’s best intentions to assess the buyer’s needs, the seller skips ahead to pitching the product sans needs assessment.
2) It’s only a few days until the end of the quota period. A seller is just one sale away from making quota. The best prospect has raised an objection related to price. Rather than taking up time that might delay the sale, the seller decides to go straight to the maximum discount she’s authorized to offer.
3) A tele-seller has perfected his value proposition and gotten comfortable with the routine of calling leads that come through the system. This seller races the clock to make more calls, shortcutting the steps related to pre-call planning and to follow-up. Each call, in the interest of saving time, is short and to the point, generic and impersonal (but very efficient!).
4) After asking for the sale, the adrenalin-fueled seller is in a hurry to get the buyer’s response. The moment of silence is agonizing, so the seller keeps talking… And talking… And talking…
5) A seller has a full day and leaves the office in a hurry to try to get to the first call on time. She has a bag full of product samples and collateral materials, but she did not take the time to sort them out and organize them for each call. Hopefully, she thinks, she’ll have whatever she needs for each call today.
In each scenario, it’s easy to understand the seller’s justification for not taking time to plan, prepare and follow the sales process. It’s also easy to see what the consequences will be.
Any time there is a savings in time, sellers need to ask themselves what the exchange rate will be. There is almost always a price to pay when you take shortcuts that take away from time and attention spent on buyers. You can’t make an informed decision until you consider both the time savings and the other (potentially hidden) costs.