by Andy Paul, author of “Zero-Time Selling“
The time it takes to get a sale can be reduced significantly. In fact, it can be reduced to zero-time. In my new book, “Zero-Time Selling“, I set forth ten essential steps to accelerating sales.
MILT – this is the mantra- Maximum Impact, Least Time possible. Make sure that you and all salespeople abide by this rule when interacting with clients. Every second and every communication must be analyzed. The key question is this:
Is it delivering enough impact?
Zero-time responsiveness as a function of content plus speed. You aren’t absolutely responsive unless you are completely responsive. Here’s an example: In many situations and clients interactions people follow up quickly but they do so without content that is helpful to the client. A quick but incomplete response to a customer’s question is the same as no response at all. A complete but slow response to a customer is marginally better than no response. Either way they may lose the client or prospect by taking too long to deliver exactly what the client needs. Clients are better informed than ever before in history. Sales professionals need to immediately answer the unanswered questions or get immediate help from someone who can.
To achieve zero-time requires combining the elements of information and speed to demonstrate complete, or absolute, responsiveness to the prospects’ and customers’ needs, creating maximum value for them in the process. It’s a bottom line approach that from the customer’s viewpoint simply says:
“Just give me the information I need – right now.”
My methods do not require more sales people, greater expenditure of resources, or investment in capital facilities, infrastructure or technology. They do require a conscious decision to use your people more effectively and harness and channel their focus on eliminating whatever obstacles are in the way of delivering the information and attention every customer wants and needs, right now.
Here’s an example which demonstrates three key core concepts that are crucial to the successful implementation of “Zero-Time Selling” in practice:
A business services representative usually has to meet with the three managing partners at a mid-sized legal practice to get the attorneys to understand enough about the programs to feel comfortable enough to deploy it to the organization. The managing partners are now so busy they only meet once a week and it’s more difficult than ever to get on the agenda. Even once you get some time with them the lawyers often compete to see which one can stump the representative and force a delay in the process until the sales rep gets back with answers to their showstopper questions.
Sell with Maximum Impact in the Least Time. The sales representative evaluates every step of the customer’s buying process. To insure she is absolutely responsive she thoroughly prepares to immediately answer every question posed, with no need for time-wasting follow up. She has everything needed to take an order and close the deal right away. He or she may even ask for questions or topics to focus on at a meeting so that she can prepare ahead and be ready to address those concerns completely.
Always Sell with the Sharp End of the Stick. The selling company positions its deepest product knowledge closest to the customer. They make sure that every representative has the skills and experience to guarantee that every communication and interaction (whether by email, meeting, phone call, or product demo, etc) delivers the value required to meet and exceed the customer’s requirements. If other peoples’ expertise is needed, they are utilized immediately using the best technology available.
Sell Low. The representative changes her tactics from only interacting with the top management tier to selling directly to the functional and mid-level managers, technical professionals, and support staff that are the actual decision makers for her product. The representative recognizes that the she can demonstrate exceptional value, building a relationship with the client that can be nurtured and developed over the long term, by selling to the real decision makers at the customer. Getting a smaller order secured faster is often a better option. Selling lower in the organization enables you to do just that.
My book details ten specific zero-time selling tactics designed to help people achieve and utilize MILT. Here are some of the essential ideas:
1. How you sell is as important as what you sell.
You must build trust and differentiate your company while creating value for your customer by how you sell your product or service.
2. If you are talking to a customer, it is urgent.
The Internet has made it possible for customers to get 70–80% of the information they need to make an informed purchase decision about your product or service before they contact you for the first time. If you are talking to a customer, they want answers now and you had better deliver what they need to know now because there is no second chance.
3. Everything happens now (unless it has already happened).
The timeframe for every sales action is now. Get a lead, follow up now. Get a question from a customer, answer it now. Of course, not everything can happen immediately, but the most important things can and must.
4. Measure. Fine-tune. Measure.
You must develop a system of responsiveness, delivering content in zero-time. Every step of your sales process must continually be measured and improved with the goal of reducing to zero the amount of time required to deliver that content.
5. Every customer is the center of your universe.
The least expensive, least time-consuming and least competitive sales are those you make to your existing customers. To ensure a steady show of orders you must practice unconditional support.
Andy Paul is a business strategist and consultant. He has over 30 years of experience having risen up through the ranks as a sales professional to become a top executive. He has served as Vice President of Sales and Business Development for numerous technology companies. He received a bachelor’s degree in History from Stanford University in 1977. He lives in New York City and San Diego.