We all know the importance of understanding your customers by always putting yourself in their shoes and looking through their lens. But we’re also aware that many sales people are pressured to make their numbers – whether it’s their year-end, quarter end, or some other date they’re working towards.
I’ve participated in countless forecasting reviews as a consultant and as a sales leader. And I know the pressure sales reps feel is real, and is often transferred to their customers. But does pressuring customers to close the deal on YOUR timeline really work, or will it backfire? Is it considered putting yourself in the customer’s shoes and looking through their lens? To illustrate my point, here’s a letter from your customer.
Dear sales person,
I realize you have an annual quota. I also have annual goals I must achieve. But why are you pushing me to close a deal when I am not ready?
I Get It – You Have to Close by a Certain Date
You tell me that you have to close a deal by the end of your fiscal year. But why should I care? In my mind, it’s all about me – not you. Now, I like you. I really do. You continually provide me with insights, share best practices in my industry, and offer new and creative ways of doing things. You’ve spent a lot of time understanding my business and I truly appreciate it.
I’ll Sign Only When I’m Ready
But I can’t and won’t sign a deal on your timeline. Even if you gave it to me for $1 – which I know you wouldn’t. My timing is my timing. It is what I have discussed with my team and my management, and we are working towards our dates, not yours.
If you ask me to, I will share these dates IF I believe you will provide me with value and will be there to help me. Why wouldn’t I? I realize your success is my success and vice versa.
Ask Me, and I’ll Tell You
So, take a step back and ask yourself if you truly know the dates that make sense to me, your customer. Many of the sales people I work with ask me for dates and we work backwards from MY end date which, in many cases, is helpful to keep me on track.
Ok, I said it and I feel better. Now, if you ask, I do have some money budgeted for a priority project that went awry with your competitor.
In closing… Stop pressuring your customers to close deals on your timeline. Make sure the close dates in your pipeline are aligned to your customers’ timelines. This way, when your manager asks you to think strategically AND fill the pipeline (and, of course), close deals, you can forecast based on your customers’ dates. Otherwise, your close dates will cascade quarter to quarter since they have no meaning to your customer – only to you.
Janice Mars, Principal and Founder of SalesLatitude, is a sales performance improvement consultant and change agent focused on growing top performers to impact bottom line growth. With more than 30 years of experience as a senior business and sales executive, she helps companies build successful sales teams by maximizing their time and resources, selling from the buyer’s point of view, and strengthening the effectiveness of leadership. View my LinkedIn profile | Twitter