Don’t look for a sale. Look for the buyer’s time.

The background music in the sales world is based on the “get the sale” tune. Just listen to what happens in the weekly sales meeting; the conversation is all around closing, making the sale, how excited the customer is, how big the opportunity is. It’s  “happy ears” noise that sounds like we’re making far more progress than we actually are. 

What does work in Sales

What works much better is asking people for their time rather than chasing the sale. And even then, you’re not so much asking for their time as earning it. The yardstick is therefore not, will you get a sale, but will the buyer – ideally – volunteer their time, because it makes sense to do so.

You cannot make a sale on your own. You need the prospect or the buyer to participate in your selling process. You need buyers to play ball with you first. Ask yourself this question: in how many calendars does my name appear today?

This approach to selling meets with a lot of resistance because it seems like a recipe for slowing down the sale. But if you cannot secure people’s time, you are unlikely to get their money any time soon. Start securing people’s time, and your sales cycle will actually reduce, not increase. 

There is a huge pressure in a sales role to do things that sound and look like selling. Don’t give in to this pressure. Avoid all the nonsense soft moves that pass for selling, like sending an email when a phone call is clearly needed or leaving people to think it over. Stop living off false notions of progress in your head and look for physical buyer participation

The implications of this approach to selling are profound. For a start we could re-name most sales books to “How to Earn Scheduled Dates from Strangers”. More on that in upcoming blogs.