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Your Need for Revenue Doesn’t Trump the Buying Cycle

You’ve fallen behind on your number. Certain events have transpired against you, and now you are way behind where you need to be. Maybe it was the loss of a major account. Maybe your pipeline evaporated right before your eyes. Maybe you never had the pipeline of opportunities you needed in the first place.

It doesn’t matter. Now, the pressure is on. You need to close deals, and you need to close them fast. The good news is that you have prospects that are absolutely going to buy from you. The bad news is that they are early in their process.

You need deals now. Something must be done. Management suggests that you push hard to close these deals. But your need for revenue does not trump the buying cycle.

The Poor Idea That Is Always Be Closing

In a low dollar, low risk sale, closing early and often is a great idea. It’s effective, and asking for the business increases sales. You can get away with closing early and often, because there isn’t much at risk. The decision-making process is simple.

But in larger, more complex sales, closing early and often is a bad idea. It’s ineffective. Here’s why.

You have a sales process. Your client has a buying process. When these two processes are aligned, opportunities move smoothly from target to close. When these two processes aren’t in sync, deals don’t move so neatly. You may be ready to move forward, but gaining agreement to move forward requires that your client is also ready. When you push hard before your dream client is ready, trust is lost—and with it, quite possibly, so is your deal.

It takes time to explore and understand your dream client’s needs. Your dream client wants to take time to understand their needs and the options available to them. When you blow past discovery, you violate the trust that comes with developing an understanding.

It takes time to develop the right solution. Your dream client wants to ensure that the decision they take will produce the results that they need before they decide. If you don’t ensure your solution matches their needs, presenting only gets you to a “no” faster.

It takes time to build consensus. Many of the decisions made within your larger dream client accounts require that time is spent with the people who have something at stake in the decision. If you aren’t known and trusted, you make it difficult to say “yes” to your solution.

It takes time to negotiate changes. Your deal is going to modified. It’s going to go through risk and legal. It’s going to be scrutinized. All of this takes time.

You can’t easily or effectively push past what is necessary to win. This is why it is so critical that you focus your time and energy on creating opportunities. Prospecting opens the relationships that open opportunities. It’s the safest and most effective plan when it comes to making your number.

A full pipeline inoculates you against the disease that is desperation.

The fact that you need a deal now doesn’t do anything to change what your buyer needs from you. Your urgency isn’t your dream client’s urgency.


What mistakes cause you to urgently need deals?

What impact does your desperation have on the natural sales and buying cycles?

What do you risk by skipping steps in your sales process or your client’s buying process?

How do you compress the sales cycle?

Why should you make the compression of your sales cycle your everyday routine, instead of waiting until you are desperate?

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  • Nat at SBI

    Coming from a telesales and online demonstration background, this article needs to be put in front of all reps who find themselves behind on quota. The urge is to shorten the sales cycle through a pricing conversation much too early in the buying process without the prospect giving the exit signals to move to the next stage. Or having the pricing conversation isn’t even appropriate with that point of contact. One of your questions is how to compress the sales cycle? Certainly an answer would be finding out who is truly making the decision and getting in front of them as quickly as possible. A little more research before the call could lead to finding the appropriate roles, relationships, and influences within the group’s buying process. I only wish I’d read this years ago.

    • S. Anthony Iannarino

      I almost tackled the issue of getting to pricing too early and discounting here, but, alas, I think that is a different (and much longer) post.

      Nat, you are right about identifying the right people and roles, but I’d add that you can compress the cycle when you achieve all of the objectives you need on each sales call. Missing those commitments just means you have fallen behind and have to ask for more appointments, more information, etc.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts!


      • Nat at SBI

        That’s a good point too. Having achievable milestones in place for each call to cover will certainly help meet those objectives. Sometimes reps think they’ve hit a milestone when the prospect hasn’t given the appropriate signal that they have. Love your stuff. Looking forward to a post tackling the pricing/discounting dilemma!