Obvious statement: most sales people and business owners are focused on hitting sales targets.
But targets are not only about ‘how much’. They’re also about ‘when’.
“I really need to hit my target this month. So how about I cut you a deal?”
Ever heard that before?
The problem is that if you’re a B2B sales person or business owner looking to hit your monthly target, you have a massive problem: you have little or no control over when your prospect is going to be ready to buy.
People aren’t going to buy just because you’re ready to sell. In fact, if anyone pleads with me to buy from them just so they can hit their target this month….sorry, not a chance.
No. People will buy when the time is right for them. And not before.
It’s frustrating. It’s not fair. It’s hard. And it’s tempting to throw away any lead you get that isn’t going to help you reach this month’s (or next month’s) sales target.
Actually, you probably won’t throw it away. But you’ll ‘de-prioritise’ it. You might revisit it once or twice, but over time you’ll let it decay and it’ll leak away out of your sales pipeline.
It’s only natural. You’ve got more important bonus-busting fish to fry this month, so you can afford to let anything but the hottest prospects slip down the priority stack.
But what happens to them? Surely not everyone is a tyre kicker. How did they get into the hopper in the first place? Have you ever thought about:
a) How much money it cost your business to get that lead in the first place, and
b) What it might be worth to keep the lead warm until it is ready to buy?
Research from US-based consultancy Sirius Decisions shows that 80% of prospects that are discarded early because they’re not ready to buy now do in fact go on to buy within 12 months.
So, if the prospects are not buying from you, they’re buying from your competitors. It could be next week, next month, even next year by the time they do.
But they’re going to buy from someone.
There’s no such thing as a ‘sales cycle’. Only a ‘buying cycle’. It’s a message that target-driven businesses and sales people need to listen to.