When trying to sell prospects, we sometimes discover they do not know how to buy correctly. So your prospects’ lack of buying skills can affect your sales success and the accuracy of your sales forecast.
Taking this into consideration, how can you accelerate your sales cycle and manage your prospects’ buying skills?
We recommend using a “Prospect Engagement Outline.”
56% of salespeople say their sales cycle is longer than 6 months.
Sales Quota Survey, Value Forward Group
A Prospect Engagement Outline is a control document used to educate buyers on your sales process and outline the steps expected from the prospect during the buying cycle.
By putting this information in front of the prospect, you help “direct” them as to how they can buy. The result is managing the inefficiencies of their buying process.
Although prospects many times use their own structured ways of buying (such as RPF’s, RFI’s, etc.), the use of an Engagement Outline educates the prospect to consider your buying process and methodology. Prospects may not adopt it in its entirety, but it will help coddle them into a format that is more vendor-directed than buyer-directed.
Below is an example of a Prospect Engagement Outline:
The use of an Engagement Outline also helps you manage prospect’s expectations before you get too deep into your sales cycle. This written format establishes benchmarks and timelines, and helps you rise above middle-level managers who think you should only deal with them.
When developing your engagement outline, break out the sales steps used in your company and make sure you include at least three senior management interactions during the sales cycle to align your sales process with prospect management commitment.
The Prospect Engagement Outline is a sales technique of the Value Forward Selling approach and enables you to be “professionally blunt.” An engagement outline enables you to show prospects that you are a professional salesperson, that this is the best process for them to successfully buy from you, and that buying is a mutual commitment between the seller and the buyer.
Sales cycles and the buying cycles are always different. To sell more, you need to drive these two timelines closer together. A Prospect Engagement Outline is a great tool to do this.