Woody Allen is quoted as saying, “80% of life is showing up.” He got that half right, because 80% of winning at business is showing up promptly. The entrepreneurs I work with are happily surprised I show up on time, promptly. Not everybody is used to that, and perhaps not everybody is used to delivering that, either.
To win a bid in many situations you have to be at the right place at the right time, and often that means responding and showing up quickly. You may feel you are already quick, but you may not be quick enough!!
How fast do you turn around your proposals? You may feel turning around a design-build proposal in three weeks is good, but your competitors are doing it in two weeks (or quicker, for simple bids). For install proposals, you may feel 2 weeks is fast, your competitor may be doing it in 1 week. You may think your maintenance proposal turnaround is fast at 1 week, but your competitor is doing it in two days, and even on-the-spot in order to have the price conversation face-to-face. (You can’t sell by email!)
How to speed it up? I work with contractors to reverse engineer their process, and remove needless steps in the process.
- Too many steps to set up an appointment
- Over designed, or too many design steps
- Over accurate, or too many approvals
- Unclear budgets that need to be reconfirmed
- Aiming for perfection
- Taking too much time from start to finish
One key to selling faster, is to know your target market clearly, so you can filter out the Red Lights and understand how to best qualify your Yellow Lights. When you spend the majority of your selling time with your Green Lights, you can go faster with more confidence, while also spending enough quality time with each prospect. Respond quickly, proactively stay in touch in-between meetings, and set up next steps when you finish the last step.
Can slower be better? There are certain times when slowing down the sales process speeds up the sale
- When you don’t have all the decision makers in the room
- When you want to strengthen the relationship and increase trust, so the client feels comfortable sharing their core needs, issues and fears.
- When the cost range is larger than the client expected, and needs time to internalize.
- Complex projects where the prospect needs to internalize your plan.
When I am interviewing a new prospect for consulting—and presumably they are interviewing me, too—I will spread out my process into a couple steps so the prospect has a chance to understand and internalize my comprehensive approach. From my perspective, I could do it all in one meeting, but that would skip over critical steps needed to build trust, customize the program, and lay out all the steps.
Jeffrey’s Breakthrough Question: What steps would you have to change in order to greatly speed up your sales/bid process? What prospects would you have to qualify out? Which of your salespeople are able to work fluidly through the process?
Take Action: Measure how long it takes you to go through the bid process, set a benchmark, and then use continuous improvement to reduce that benchmark, step by step.