If you are committed to success, you are committed to a process oriented approach. If you are committed to a process, then by definition, you have a series of steps in a thought-out sequence. Most sales people who are learning a new process, or committing to one for the first time struggle less with the actual steps than they do with the transitions. They are often giving up control of the process to prospects during the transitions between steps.
Defending against that comes down to mastering a simple fundamental concept. Always set the next step. Never leave an interaction with a prospect without getting an agreement on what the next step is, regardless of what that step is. I call this the rule of next.
first heard this rule in the context of dating. A friend of mine
complemented her husband on his habit of asking her out on the next date
while they were still on the current date. “I always knew where I
stood with him, because by 9 or 10pm on the first date, he’d already
suggested a plan for the second date, and on the second date, he wrapped
up the evening by asking me out on the next date”
Ask yourself why that made her feel comfortable. Certainly the fact that she spent no time in limbo, wondering if he was still interested contributed to that peace of mind. Additionally, he pro-actively suggested a next activity (next step), setting up a situation where she needed to make a decision.
I worked with a client recently whose process was missing this element. They would wrap up their demo calls with a one sided plan. “We’ll send you the agreement, and let us know if you have any questions”. That placed all the control, all the initiative in the hands of their prospects. Not surprisingly, they had a lot of agreements out with no response and lots of prospects who were “ghosting” them.
Sending an agreement isn’t a next step, it’s a promise to complete a task. The fix was to add more to that step, and make it a specific commitment.
“Based on today’s call, I am going to send you an agreement. Lets set a follow up call for next week. You can review the agreement and once we’ve answered any questions, you can let me know if you want to move forward. Does Tuesday at 2pm work to reconnect?”
Specific next step, that sets the expectations of the step after that step (moving forward or not). It does not assume a “yes”, which would be pushy and salesy. It gains commitment of a “yes” or a “no” to the next step. The idea isn’t to propose marriage, just to get an agreement of a next date.
Never leave a conversation with a prospect without a next specific step set and agreed to.