Firstly, let us look at what we mean by ‘momentum’ when making a sale. The Oxford Dictionary definition of momentum is, “the quantity of motion of a moving body, product of its mass and velocity, the impetus gained by movement”. In selling it is about keeping you and your company top of mind, creating as much activity as possible during the ‘window of opportunity’ and ensuring interest is maintained. The sum of these activities ensures that you have the maximum movement towards closing sales as possible; all of the time.
Why it’s important for salespeople:
We all know that in sales it is relatively easy to get somebody interested in what you are selling. This initial interest is a long, long way from getting them to sign on the dotted line though. There are many reasons for this, but one major factor is that the potential buyer loses the interest they originally had. Making a deal with you just isn’t top of mind for them. This is the reason that it is so important for an effective salesperson to actively manage the process of keeping their prospects engaged – keeping up the momentum of the sale.
The risk of lost momentum:
I’m sure we have lots of stories where we were very confident the deal was going to close, but then things went quiet. Delays started to happen. Missed callbacks, information not provided, deadlines missed and in the end, we lost that piece of business. It just drifted away. Why? We lost momentum. No matter what the story we get from the client, the fact is there was a chance to close the deal and we missed it.
Another area that illustrates the danger of losing momentum is in how a salesperson reacts to ‘Good News’. I realised a few years ago that how I reacted to good news from clients was an area that I needed to improve on myself and it is something that every sales professional should remember.
Therefore, when a client tells you:
- that they are just getting the final sign off,
- that they will confirm in the morning, or
- any other pieces of information that tells us ‘the deal is going to happen’….
Don’t ‘bask in the glory’ of having won the deal, relaxing and waiting for the next step to happen. What a mistake this is! It really is the last thing you want to do. You need to action the good news and close the deal immediately. You have done so much to get to this stage that to lose it now would be a disaster, you should be moving heaven and earth to close the deal and the last thing that should happen is that you relax and wait.
Momentum in Sales isn’t only about closing:
Please also remember, momentum is not just at the closing stage, it is important from the moment that the client has made contact or agreed to meet with you. This action is happening because they have some interest in you and your company.
A perfect way for you to measure this theory yourself is to split your closing ratio against the time it takes to work on a sale into two. This will vary depending on what you are selling, but here is one real-life example that I completed with an existing client:
- Closing Ratio of deals that took less than 25 days to work on – 69%
- Closing Ratio of deals that took more than 25 days to work on – 16%
When we did this study it came as a huge surprise to many of the sales team and management as they had never looked at it this way. But why the surprise? It should be obvious – the momentum is there with the deals we work on faster as keeping a potential buyer engaged and interested in a shorter time is far easier.
Conclusion and tips for keeping up the momentum:
Clearly, it is the salesperson’s responsibility to keep up the momentum of a sale. After all, it is their job. Their clients may have a hundred other things to be thinking about and your deal might not seem high on their list of priorities.
Keeping deals alive and on track increases results. Even though closing ratios decline the longer a deal takes, the chances of closing at any stage are higher when the momentum is high, so work on it proactively and you will be more successful.
From my experience here are some tips on how to keep up momentum:
- Set your next meeting during your last contact with the client. Never say “I’ll call you next week to set up another meeting” or something similar. This is when we lose touch and it is often difficult to get it back on track again. Remember if you are with the client they will be more inclined and persuaded to meet with you again at that moment, but this will wear off over time when you call back.
- If a client contacts you, or you have met them at an event; fix an appointment to meet there and then. It sounds obvious but doesn’t always happen. More often we say, “I’ll give you a call to fix a time to come and meet”! Why?
- Create reasons why you need the next steps to be sooner than later. Now is a good time of year where people want to wrap things up before the end of the year, but we need to be creative at other times as well
- Assist in helping the client set their agenda. For example, if the client says, “we will be signing it off in the morning”, respond with “great, let’s meet after you have done this at 2 pm to get things moving”. Or if they say, “I need to go over the pricing”, you can respond “Great, so if you get that done tomorrow let’s meet the next day to discuss the review you have done”. It may sound a bit pushy, but this is a critical part of the sale and it works!
- If there has been a delay in the sale and the gap between meetings is too long, create a reason to see the client to keep you top of mind and their interest alive.