Knowing the Customer’s Timeline to Buy – How Can I Tell If I Have Qualified Prospects?

by Mark Hunter

The number one competitor every salesperson faces is the “no decision.” This is the customer who despite everything you do chooses to not do anything. They might choose to stay with their current supplier or simply say no just to postpone making a decision. Either way, for you, it is time wasted.

More on this in my video below:

You know what can make the “no decision” even more painful? A prospect who was never inclined to make a decision in the first place; their intention was purely to gain more information. Don’t think for a moment this doesn’t happen. Many times, a prospect begins the process thinking they’re going to make a decision; but due to other factors, their thinking changes yet they remain engaged with the salesperson. When this happens, you lose out in two ways. First, you waste time dealing with the customer. Second, you waste time as the process drags on without a clear end.

The sooner you can gain insight into the customer’s timeline for making a decision, the more you can avoid the process that gets drags you into infinity and beyond. If you’re not willing to ask the customer early about their timeline for making a decision, you’re setting yourself up for wasted time. Ask the question, ask it early and make sure you listen closely to their answer.

Don’t just listen for a specific date when your customer shares their timeline, but listen for other insights. For every date a customer gives, there is a reason and it’s your job to find out why. Often, your prospect won’t freely give you the information you need right away. This is where your follow-up questions come into play. You must probe deeper right after they share, but also, make a point to follow up even more on the next call.

If the customer has a timeline they’re banking on, the date will remain the same no matter how frequently you ask them about it. Don’t hesitate to ask them about their date multiple times. The customer who is committed to a date will appreciate you knowing it, and your focus on crafting the value proposition around it. If the customer’s timeline isn’t firm, you’ll be able to hear it in their words and tone. The prospect who is hesitant will let you know, because they have a different reason for meeting with you. Their goal is to keep you focused on them.

If you do find yourself dealing with a prospect who has a timeline that does not fit your current needs, that doesn’t mean you walk away. Walking away is admitting that all of your time up to that point was a waste. It was not a waste; however, it was just deferred. Your objective is to keep the process going, but in a manner that does not suck your time. Move the prospect into a different sales or marketing pipeline. You’ll need to continue to provide them value, but in a way that does not take you away from your core activity of closing deals now.

If you missed my first two posts and videos on this topic, check them out below. Stay tuned as I share more in the coming weeks!

Blog post and Video: How Can I Tell If I Have Qualified Prospects or Just Bad Leads?

Blog post and Video: How Can I Tell If I Have a Qualified Prospect: Confidential Information

As we continue to talk about this subject, I suggest you take 2 important action steps. First, buy my book, High-Profit Prospecting – available in paperback, audiobook and Kindle. Second, join my High Profit Sales Coaching program here. I promise both will yield valuable results for you and your business.

Copyright 2019, Mark Hunter “The Sales Hunter.” Sales Motivation Blog. Mark Hunter is the author of High-Profit Prospecting: Powerful Strategies to Find the Best Leads and Drive Breakthrough Sales Result