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How to Get Your Prospects to Make Faster Buying Decisions

November 9, 2016

Do you have prospects that are a perfect fit for your product or service but they drag their feet when it comes to signing your contract? They’re fully engaged during the sales cycle. There are no known obstacles in the way of closing the deal. Yet, they keep postponing their buying decision until next month…and they keep doing that over and over.

You keep asking yourself, how can you get these prospects to make up their mind and take action now and sign your sales contract. Is it the prospect's fault? Are they playing a negotiation game, trying to get you to lower your price or offer some other concession before they will sign the contract?

There are actually several valid reasons why your prospect might slow down the buying process and put buying your product or service on hold. There may be organization problems at your prospect's company, changes in the market, economic fluctuations and stock market unpredictability. All of these can have an impact on a customer’s buying decision (https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/185880).

However, usually, the party responsible for a jammed deal is YOU the salesperson--not your prospect. Why is this?

Think About the Buying Cycle

Before we start, we need to understand a customer’s buying process. There are various perspectives on how many steps are involved in a prospect’s decision-making process and the sales cycle. Some say four. Others say five. Regardless of the number of steps, there’s one universal rule; the prospect will not move from one buying process to the next until you provide all the information they need for the current step to be fulfilled (https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/279936).

Proactively Define the Steps to Action

If you’re working on a deal with a qualified prospect but it suddenly stalls, don’t point fingers. Conduct some quick research. Where is the prospect in the buying process? What information is the prospect waiting for that you haven’t supplied? What is the number 1 problem your prospect wants your product or service to solve? If you aren’t sure about the answer to these questions, don’t guess. Approach the client and ask. Here are two tips to help you get started.

  1. Do a quick recap of the steps you have accomplished thus far in the buying process. Start from the first time you had contact with the buyer to the present. It should become clear what the prospect needs from you. If this isn’t the case, don’t be afraid to ask.
  2. Plot out a schedule with the buyer on how you will provide the information they’re missing and agree on the time-frame you plan to make it available. With time, this schedule and the information needed will change as you move forward in the buying cycle. But, you will have secured the customer’s commitment, and you will have something that your competitors don’t -- the chance to work with the prospect to their decision-making point (https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/51268).

With that said, helping prospects speed up their buying decision is good for both you and your prospects. A faster buying cycle allows your prospects to start receiving the benefits from your product or service sooner. The benefits to you are that you get paid sooner and your time is freed up to work on additional sales. Here are a few more pointers to help you help your prospects make purchase decisions faster.

  1. Consistently Communicate the Sales Process

Your prospects can often be overwhelmed by the complexity, length and scope of a buying decision. Therefore, sales people and marketers must put buyers at ease and develop momentum by providing a seamless and manageable sales process. The steps should be simple, clear, and precise to make the consumer more comfortable in making a buying decision. For instance, it is irresponsible to tell your prospect to contact you if and when they are interested in learning more about the product. Instead, you should give the customer suggestions on how you can implement a strategy at a time that is convenient for them (https://www.inc.com/geoffrey-james/6-emotions-that-make-customers-buy.html). Be proactive instead of reactive. 

  1. Remain Brief but Effective

Giving prospects too much information too quickly can create information overload and confusion. And, confused people don't buy.  The prospect may not be able to fully understand and appreciate the benefits and features of your product without first having the time to digest the information so it makes sense to them. The message from the sales person tends to get lost when she presents too much information to quickly. Information overload almost always results in the prospect taking much longer to make a purchase decision.

Essentially, marketers and sales people need to focus on one or two of your product or service's most valuable benefits. Sales people also need to listen to the prospect to uncover what the prospect thinks is the most valuable benefit, and then focus their sales presentation on that benefit. For example, if your prospect most likes that your widget comes in the color blue because he loves the color blue so much, focus on how great it is that your widget is blue. Don't go on talking about how it also comes in 11 other colors. Focus on the #1 benefit your prospect cares about the most and don't waste their time talking about other features and benefits they don't care about. 

  1. Minimize Calls-To-Action

With your website, having too many calls-to-action buttons can be distracting and confusing. From the viewpoint of a consumer, if you bombard people with too many "buy here" and "click here" buttons and links, they can become confused and not know where to look or go on your website. Instead, create a seamless and simple one-way avenue and not a ten-way intersection which only paralyzes the decision-making abilities of your prospect. Think of it like herding sheep. You need to create the exact path you want prospects to take instead of letting them randomly wander around on your website, hoping they will eventually find what they are looking for. Also, remove any additional navigation links on your landing pages to ensure that prospects only focus on completing the specific action you want them to take, such as completing a contact form to contact you as a lead. Focus on relevant content and avoid fluff on your website (https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/185880).

  1. Create Unexpected Urgency

Learn the exact goals and need points of your prospect and then explore every possible negative consequence of inaction and why moving forward and making a purchase decision now is critical. For example, think of 5 negative consequences that will happen if your prospect does not take action and buy from you now. Is there a chance you will soon run out of inventory and they will lose out? Will you soon be increasing your prices due to rising manufacturing costs? You need to show your prospect how they will benefit much more if they buy today than if they wait.

  1. Avoid Taking Shortcuts

Some sales people try to take shortcuts in the sales process. For example, if the sales person does not identify the exact needs and wants of the buyer at the discovery stage, the sales person's presentation will not be focused on the solving the problem the prospect most wants solved, and the sales person will instead talk about benefits and features the prospect does not care about. For this reason, the customer may postpone the deal indefinitely to "think about it."  Lazy selling leaves the prospect with unanswered questions, which always leads to the prospect putting their buying decision on hold (https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/51268).

  1. Share Testimonials and Recommendations from Other Customers

Whenever possible share client testimonials, recommendations, and positive industry feedback. Share the positive things your customers and industry experts say about your product or service. This will make it easier for your prospect to make a faster buyer decision. You must be keen about social media threads, case studies, blog articles, expert opinions and features that paint your product or service in a positive way.

  1. Encourage Feedback

Prospects need to know that they can easily get in touch with you in a way that is most convenient for them. It could be through a phone call or an email or a text message. Make it clear on your website how people can get in touch with you should they want to talk to you immediately. Most buyers want a simple and efficient customer support system where they can directly engage with a sales person or a customer support person. It is advisable to add contact information to every page of your website so all prospects can see how to contact you (https://www.inc.com/geoffrey-james/6-emotions-that-make-customers-buy.html).

If All Else Fails, Know When to Walk Away

After you’ve presented your product or service in a positive way and focused on how you will solve the #1 problem the prospect most wants solved, your prospect should be willing to make a buying decision. While not every sales process leads to an immediate decision to buy, you ultimately need them to decide to either move forward and buy or to walk away... for now. If making a decision takes longer than your expected sales cycle, then odds are your prospect is not really interested in what you’re offering because they do not have a complete understanding of how your product or service will solve the #1 problem THEY most want solved. Sales comes down to understanding what your prospect wants most and then focusing your sales presentation on how your product or service gives them what they want most, and does it better than any of your competitors. However, if your product or service cannot solve the problem your prospect most wants to solve, you need to accept it and walk away. It is better to not make a sale than to sell something your buyer does not need or want and that they will quickly regret buying.

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