Timing is crucial to sales and the hardest to master. Timing is what sets Sales apart from just about everyone else at the company.
If you don’t think so, look at the history of great ideas introduced at the wrong time. There is a list of companies in the vast internet graveyard. Even big companies miss the boat such as Microsoft giving Android the phone market. One of Bill Gates’ biggest regrets.
In Sales, deals are no different just on a smaller scale. Every deal has a window of opportunity.
Regardless of how much a slam dunk you think the sale might be, you have a finite amount of time to close.
Juggling multiple deals while deadlines approaching is challenging. Sales aren’t just about fancy dinners and looking like you’re having fun. Everything is dependent on a monthly, quarterly, or yearly timeline: rain or shine.
The art lies in picking up the cues as you navigate the jungle to lead you to the promised land.
I was thinking about a few tips, but there is just one question that helps me understand the dynamics of a deal.
When do you expect to start?
A terrible move any salesperson can make is to be too sleazy and pushy. I once asked a client, “So when are we closing this thing”? As you can imagine, it went over well.
However, asking about the start date is a more subtle way of figuring out the timeframe.
There are other ways to ask this same question, but this one is my go-to.
The significant part of understanding the start date is it allows me to work backward. If I know the start date, then what does it take to get there knowing we are four weeks away? How long does it take to sign agreements? Is there a budget in place? Who else needs to be involved?
These questions and many more can be asked after the first question. It gives you the best sense of whether a deal is in urgent mode and the steps needed to meet the start date.
Understanding timing is also beneficial for the client. It isn’t a one-way street. You don’t want a salesperson breathing down your neck for a project that won’t start for another six months.
What sets the star players apart are they understanding timing better than anyone else. It may look like luck. It is seizing the opportunity.