How to Qualify Your Prospects Buying Cycle

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Do you take the time to qualify your prospects buying cycle? If not, you should. It a great way to ensure you are targeting the right prospects at the right time. That being when they are most likely to buy!

What is Your Prospects Buying Cycle?

Most salespeople these days take the time to define their sales target prospects. Few however, take the time to define the best time to contact them. Instead, they create a automatic email sequence and start firing off emails at regularly scheduled intervals in the hopes of generating sales leads. This can be such a wasted of time and money! Sure, the company may be a prospect, but are they a prospect, TODAY?

It is dangerous to believe that every company in your target market can buy from you at any time. You need to know how often your prospects buy your products. This is not the same as how often they use your products, but rather how often they renegotiate the contracts for their use.

For example, it is unlikely that you would lease a new car today when your current lease still has two years left. You use you car every day, but you only buy a new one every few years. Knowing where your targets are in their buying cycle ensures not only you being in the right place, but being there at the right time!

How to Find Your Prospects Buying Cycle

When you prospect, you should ask qualifying questions that tell you when the prospect is most likely to buy.  A few examples include:

  • 'When did you last negotiate your supplier contract?'
  • 'How long have you had your current equipment?'
  • “When does your current agreement expire?”

Questions like these will give you a very good idea where the customer is in the buying cycle.  Once this is known, you can easily determine when they are most likely to buy again.

For example, if your prospects tend to renegotiate their contacts every 4 years, and a company negotiated their contract 3 and a half years ago, chances are you have an excellent prospect today.  On the other hand, if they just renewed their contract 1 year ago, they will not be a prospect for another 2 and a half years, and therefore should be re-contacted then. You should stay top of mind with them using an automated DRIP marketing plan, but there is no need to waste your valuable sales time.

Track Your Prospects Buying Cycle in Your CRM So You Follow Up at the Right Time

It is critical that you file each company you prospect by your next sales contact date.  If your current Follow-Up File or CRM system cannot do this, change it so it can, or get a new one that does.

This is a true story.  Over the course of a year, a local branch manager had 7 separate photocopier salespeople conduct face to face prospecting calls on her business.  However, the current equipment was on a lease with an expiry date far into the future. It just was not the right time in the buying cycle to start the sales process.  The branch manager asked each sales rep to call back on the same specified date in the future.  Of the 7, only 2 sales reps called back.  Only 2!

How to Design a CRM System

    Although this may sound unbelievable, it is more often the rule than the exception.  Research shows that 2 of 3 sales are made to customers who have said no not once, but 5 times.  A wasted sales opportunity like the one above stems from the fact that 75% of all salespeople give up after the first or second rejection.  Given this, it is certainly easy to see why the other 25% of sales reps produce 90-95% of all sales!  These are the reps that have follow up systems that tell them when to call again.

    Ask yourself this question.  If you went out today and contacted 10 businesses, only one of which was a company that could buy today, what would you do with the other 9?  If you answered anything else other than file them in your CRM by your next sales contact date, you are wasting sales opportunities.

    Sales Success Depends on Timely Follow Up

    The highest producing salespeople know how critical it is to focus on the right prospects. Not only do they know how many times salespeople should follow up, but they also know when. Simply put, they know how to always be in the right place at the right time. That being when the prospect is most likely to buy.

    When you file by the next contact date, you create a list of companies that are organized by the date of their next purchase.  Most sales representatives would consider this information a license to print their own commission checks!  If you don't do this and just file each company alphabetically, all you have really done is create a glorified phone book.

    For detailed instructions on how to create the right prospecting qualifying questions and file them so you are in the right place at the right time, check out my book, Action Plan For Sales Success.  It includes tips and tools that will have an immediate impact on your sales results.  In fact, one reader stated it’s a “step by step guide for winning at the sales game.”

    Aim Higher!

    Susan A. EnnsB2B Sales Coach and Author
    Schedule a free sales coaching strategy session with Susan here.

    “… what I can tell anyone, is simply this – If you want to learn and understand sales, talk to Susan.”

    Do you have a question about sales? You’re not alone.  Most salespeople have questions like this on how they can sell more. For the right answers, check out my book, Ask the Sales Coach-Practical Answers to the Questions Sales People Ask Most.

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