In this article, telecoms sales expert Andy Preston explains some of the buyer thinking that goes on in prospect’s buying process, that most salespeople aren’t even aware of.
I’ve worked a lot in the telecoms industry over the past few years as a top salesperson and as a professional buyer. A lot of my work involves giving businesses an insight into how people make buying decisions, and how they can tap into that to make more sales.
One of the things I do notice in telecoms sales, and in mobile phone sales in particular, is that very often the salespeople are ‘too late’.
What on earth do I mean by that? Here are my reasons why salespeople are often too late.
Number 1 – You’re Too Late ‘To The Party’
This happens so much in telecoms sales and in mobile phone sales in particular that I’ve lost count of how many times this has cost people business. Suffice to say, it’s a lot.
Think about this for a moment: The prospect has been looking at or considering their next mobile contract for a while now, internally of course, so the fact that you’ve only just bothered to ring them up and ask them about it will count against you in most cases. In fact, it’s even worse if you spoke to them 6 months ago and you agreed to call them back now – they’ve probably also forgotten about you as well! Is that typical in mobile phone sales do you think? Of course!
Now, they might give you an appointment. They might even give you the honour of providing a quote. But how likely are they to use you? Compared to the other competitive quotes they have been getting, and the existing provider who they have known for ages and have more trust in than you? Do you think they may have made some initial decisions about who they would prefer to use already?
So you’re now in the pile with all the other mobile phone providers that have contacted them and asked to be considered when they’re renewing their contract. You’re one of many. If you’re trying to influence them now to go with you, you’re probably too late.
Number 2 – You’re Too Late In Responding To Them
Another reason I’ve noticed that many mobile phone salespeople lose deals is that they frequently take too long to get back to prospects – some don’t even bother to get back to them at all.
Now, this applies if the prospect asks them to send them an email. It applies if you’ve promised to lend them a handset for example. It also applies if they’ve asked you to find out some specific information for them.
In all of these situations, whether you like it or not, you’re being tested. Your prospects are thinking ‘are they reliable?’, ‘will they do what they say?’, and/or ‘can I trust them?’
The longer you take to get back to the prospect here, the longer the prospect thinks you’ll take to sort out future problems, once they’ve bought from you. This causes them to doubt you and your capabilities if you take too long.
And how likely is it that the prospect will do business with someone that takes ages to get back to them? Not very.
Number 3 – You’re Too Late With Your Proposal
This happens a lot in mobile phone sales. What I’m talking here specifically is the timing of sending your proposal, and how long it takes you to do so. In my experience proposals about mobile phone contracts fall into one of two camps, the ‘back-of-a-fag-packet’ type, and the 20-page proposal type.
If you’re the sort of person or company that prefers to send the longer type of proposal, with billing information included in there etc., be aware that the time it takes you to prepare the proposal is crucial. Note – I’m not advocating you do a ‘back-of-a-fag-packet’ job here, just making you aware of the impact time can have on the success of your proposal – or not.
Here’s a bold statement: The longer it takes for your proposal to reach the prospect, be prepared for the fact that the less likely you are to win the deal.
Why do I say that? Simply because the proposals that reach the prospect first are more likely to be studied closely, compared to when they have 5, 10, or more to look through – and if they’re read through a few already, how closely do they really want to study yours?
Here’s Another Problem If You Rely On Your Proposal To Change Their Minds
Most salespeople I meet think that the proposal is the main thing that helps them win or lose the deal, and so that’s where they put the majority of their focus. They’re wrong.
Often buyers have made their initial decision on who they’re going to use or at least have a good idea before the proposal stage and if most of your effort goes into the proposal, then you’ve got a problem.
Managers – have you ever interviewed for an employee, and even though you’re going to a 2nd interview, you’ve already got a favourite or favourites from the 1st interviews? Of course you have. Exactly the same thing happens in a buying situation as well.
So, in order to increase your chances of winning the deal, focus on the things that happen before the proposal stage – like your questioning, your understanding of their true needs, and their appreciation of you and your solution – and you’ll be much more successful!