Too many sales conversations finish with sales people uncertain about next actions.
These next actions might be needed from:
- Us (for instance, “I will get a first draft written proposal to you by the end of tomorrow”)
- The customer with whom we’re speaking
- One or more of their colleagues
- Other stakeholders who have a role or interest in this situation
- Run out of time – When we’re having a great conversation with a customer about their interest in our product or service, it’s all too easy to get caught up in the possibilities. Unless we’re paying attention, we’ll run out of time to agree next actions.
- Coach next actions – We can help customers to buy from us if we coach them about required next actions.
- Not aware – Especially if they haven’t bought from us before, they may not be aware about what needs to be done.
- 3 key reasons – We need agreed next actions because:
- Without next actions, the sale will not happen!
- We need to include these agreed next actions in our follow up email or proposal document
- The quality and range of agreed next actions will strongly influence the date and probability numbers in our sales pipeline
- Always be aware – The most important part of agreeing next actions is always to be aware that this agreement will be needed before we get to the end of the conversation.
- It is our responsibility as sales people to remain aware of the need for agreed next actions.
- Ask yourself throughout the conversation; “who will need to do what by when?”
- Both simple and complex – In simple sales situations, there will be relatively few required next actions. In complex sales situations, sales people need sophisticated project management skills.
- Negotiate next actions – sometimes it will be necessary or useful to negotiate next actions. For instance, “If I get a written summary of this discussion to you by the end of tomorrow, shall we agree to speak again by phone on Monday morning at 11am?”
Finish every conversation with clear agreement about next actions