Slow Down, Sell Faster: 11 Tips for Improving Sales Effectiveness in 2011

An alarming 48.2% of sales reps failed to meet their quotas in 2009. While the numbers for 2010 have not yet been tallied, one thing is certain: Especially in today’s challenging economy, companies cannot afford this dismal level of sales ineffectiveness. They must turn things around...NOW.

An alarming 48.2% of sales reps failed to meet their quotas in 2009. While the numbers for 2010 have not yet been tallied, one thing is certain: Especially in today’s challenging economy, companies cannot afford this dismal level of sales ineffectiveness. They must turn things around...NOW.

"Unfortunately, companies have been operating under the delusion that a faster sales pitch leads to faster and bigger sales.  Yet, poor sales productivity has proven that this is not the case," says sales expert Kevin Davis, who has more than 30 years of experience in the field. As Davis explains in his new book, Slow Down, Sell Faster! Understand Your Customer’s Buying Process and Maximize Your Sales (, the key to speeding up the sales process is to actually slow down so that you match your selling strategy to the customer’s buying needs.

Davis offers these 11 tips to help salespeople effectively guide customers through each step of the buying process ---- and sell faster:

  • Avoid talking too soon about your solution. That just gives your competitors an edge because the customer is likely in the middle of their buying process. Essentially, you reach the end of your sales process just as the customer arrives at the point when they start comparison shopping. To sell more and to sell faster, slow down your sales conversations. Get your customers to talk more about their needs, problems, and opportunities. That knowledge will help you create a greater urgency for them to take action.
  • Don’t just dance with the one who brung ya! Most major purchasing decisions these days are made by a team of people. You can hit a lot of speed bumps if all your knowledge comes from only one contact. Get to a second and third decision-maker as quickly as you can in the process. Identify all the decision makers on the complex buying team. Ask your contact, “What other key people should  I talk with to gather more information about these problems and needs?"
  • Always seek to identify a second customer need. Why? The first need is the most understood by your customer, while the second need is typically not. Also, the first need may have been identified by your competitor, so by identifying a 2nd need you have a chance to re-define the customer’s solution requirements in your favor.
  • Go down the corporate ladder before going up. Have you been taught to get to executive-level decisions makers as quickly as you can? That’s not bad advice...unless you go there with nothing interesting or important to say about the customer’s business! Going down the organizational chart to talk to users about their challenges and needs can give you insights that will help you deliver a more compelling message to executives.
  • If you are brought into the customer’s buying cycle late in the game, try to diagnose a need that your competitors have missed. That will help you go from laggard to leader in the customer's eyes.
  • Know at least three reasons why your customer should buy from you. These reasons must be connected to explicit customer needs. Otherwise, you have no right to ask for the customer's business.
  • Keep close contact with the customer, especially when they are in a comparison mode (evaluating solutions from multiple vendors). If you are asked to deliver a proposal or presentation, the odds are high that the customer is asking other vendors as well. Talk to your sponsor ahead of time to see if anything has changed. Immediately after a presentation, schedule another appointment with your sponsor.
  • Help your customer define realistic expectations. Ask them:  "Six months from today how will you know this decision was a success?"
  • Measure the success of a sales call based on what actions the customer takes afterwards not by what you did during the meeting. When planning a sales call, then, ask yourself “what specific action do I want my prospect to take after this meeting, and by when?”
  • Convert intangible customer criteria into tangible criteria. You cannot make a case that some feature or capability of your solution is tied to a customer need if you don’t know what that need is defined.

Explains Davis, “It’s becoming harder and harder to differentiate yourself based on what you sell because products and services are becoming increasingly alike. Today’s most successful salespeople and organizations know they need to stand out based on how they sell. Salespeople who slow down each sales conversation end up spending more time with each prospect. Now, when relationships are so important to sales success, having a higher quantity and quality of time with each customer is going to result in higher sales.”

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