Winning Is More Important Than is Velocity

The idea of velocity in sales is about being efficient during the sales conversation to win deals faster. There is no doubt that winning a new deal today is better than winning that same deal two months from now.

Not only do you help your prospective clients produce the better outcomes they need, but you also pull your results forward in time, booking the revenue sooner. But it’s easy to confuse efficiency for effectiveness during a deal, a mistake that can cost you dearly. Here are a few pitfalls to watch out for as you pursue velocity and an efficient sales process.

Taking a Transactional Approach to a Consultative Sale

One way salespeople try to accelerate the sales conversation is by treating a consultative sale as if it were a transactional sale.

A consultative sale normally means helping a client with a decision they don’t often make, one that comes with some strategic risk to them. In consultative sales, you have to do a lot of work to help your clients understand the decision they are making, the factors they need to consider, and what solutions are available to them.

A transactional sale is different. It presumes that your prospective client has a pretty straightforward decision to make, likely one that they have made in the past. Decision-making is fairly low-risk in a transactional sale, as the cost of a mistake is relatively low.

The transactional approach is going to be faster than a consultative approach. Where salespeople make mistakes is believing that a given decision doesn’t require a consultative approach, even though the client needs more help making it.

A similar error is to spend as little time as possible with your contacts. Maybe you believe you only need one discovery call with your client before presenting your solution, but your prospects believe they need more information or guidance. Those mismatched beliefs can cost you the sale.

There is no reason to prioritize efficiency if doing so loses a deal you would have won, had you given your decision-makers and decision-shapers the time they needed.

Speeding Through a Decision

You might also find yourself dealing with a client who is trying to make a buying decision faster than they can effectively do so. You have no doubt had a great discovery call that ended with a contact who asked you to send them a proposal and pricing.

Even though you might feel as if you are in a good position to win based on your contact’s request, minimizing the time you spend with your clients can—and will—work against you. You have to develop a keen awareness of where your client is and what they need from you.

Selling is art, not science. When you have worked in sales for a long time, your gut will tell you that you need to spend more time helping your contacts explore the changes they are making, collaborating with them on what the right solution needs to look like, and building consensus with the people who are going to be affected by the change you are helping them make. Ignoring the tells that suggest your clients need more help, just because you need a deal now, is one way to ensure you don’t win the deal.

The fact that your client needs (or wants) to go faster doesn’t mean that you can help them rush forward to the solution when you haven’t done the work. You are better off selling them on the meetings they need to have, so they can come to a decision they can execute. Likewise, you can shorten the time between your conversations, sharing a roadmap to help the client get to their “go live” date.

Withholding or Delaying Specialized Expertise

When you need subject-matter experts (SMEs) or other team members to serve your prospective client, you’ll probably have to clear several obstacles before you can gain access. Most companies have too few SMEs, so yours try to reserve the SMEs’ time for deals that they believe have a high propensity to close. That means depriving less-promising deals of SME input.

In many cases, the sales organization over-qualifies the opportunity, leading them to withhold the SME until later in the sales conversation. That’s a judicious decision given SMEs’ rarity, but it’s also a constraint. Even though every company has a right to determine the rules under which they apply certain resources to a deal, you don’t always get to determine when your client needs an SME’s help.

One of the ways you lose deals is by not helping your client get the information and insight they need when they need it. In this case, withholding or delaying the expert means you are preventing the client from being able to move forward—and allowing them to engage with someone who can help them in a more significant way.

Efficiency and Effectiveness

Efficiency means reducing the time and energy you use to create a certain outcome, while effectiveness measures how well you actually reached that outcome. When you do something that reduces time and energy without getting the result you need, you wasted 100% of those resources, giving you a zero score when it comes to effectiveness.

You should never take longer than necessary to win a deal, but neither should you try to speed up the sales conversation if doing so means you fail to give your client the help they need. If you have to choose between velocity or winning, choose winning.

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