Part 2: Creating a Buying Plan
Last week, we discussed one of the biggest problems your sales team faces on a regular basis. How do you keep Buyers moving through your pipeline to make a decision? How can you create a sales process that Flows as predictably as a production line?
One way to do that is with something as simple as a Buying Plan.
Before we launch into how you can craft a Buying Plan to start your sales team on a path to having a process that Flows, we first have to discuss the mistake you’re making with how your current Buying process takes place.
You see, you’re doing it wrong.
Buying processes, far too often, start far too early. That’s one of the reasons they take too long. Seems a little obvious, right? I can hear your objection already—aren’t your salespeople supposed to be getting in touch with the Buyers as early as possible? You want them to influence the Buyers in their decision, which means starting as early as possible, right?
Yes, exactly. However, there’s a difference between starting your Buying process at that first touchpoint, and getting ready to start the Buying process. That’s where this idea of having a Buying Plan comes into play.
In order to craft a Buying plan, it’s important to know as much as possible about your Buyer’s process to make a decision. When is the earliest time your Buyer requires your product or service. How long would it take for a purchase to be made if the Buyer said yes every step of the way? How long would it take for all requests for budget, confirmations with upper management, and those other details to be handled?
To get around this, a shift in perspective on the process and the Buyer is necessary. We talk about changing the focus of your sales process in nearly every one of our blogs. Today’s Seller needs to be focused on providing sales as a service, on aiding their Buyer along their Buyer’s Journey. There is a fairly simple way for your Sellers to make it clear to their Buyers that they intend to do this. Rather than immediately moving into the Buying process, instead have your Sellers try offering to help the Buyer create a plan for what they need to make a decision—any decision.
Remember that having your Buyer make a decision, yes or no, can potentially double your number of sales without any other changes.
Helping your Buyer, then, becomes not just a nice thing to do, but a profitable thing, too. Crafting your Buying Plan is something you should do with the help of your Buyer—it’s about them, after all. Try to have them engage with you to determine what will help them meet their objectives to make a timely, accurate, and confident decision (which is, of course, what Buyers want most of all). What Buyer wouldn’t agree to help and support in making a better and faster decision on their needs?
When you build that trust and support, you also make your Buyer comfortable enough to be honest about when they intend to buy—a huge asset for your salespeople as they plan their strategy. When the Buyer tells you exactly how long it’ll be before they’re ready to make a decision, they’ve given you the best information possible. Rather than actively trying to speed their process up, you can instead build the relationship, ensuring that when decision time rolls around, you’re positioned and ready to make the sale.
If you’re not sure how long the Buying plan should be, or how long your Buyer’s process is, then the next time you have a new prospect or Buyer in your pipeline, keep detailed notes. You should be able to pinpoint the steps taken, including steps the Buyer may request that the Seller hadn’t thought of, as well as the time spent on each step. Once the process is complete and you’ve made a sale, you can go back and note the time spent, and mark that as the planned cycle time. From there, when it comes to new prospects, you can start figuring out where in the cycle they are on their side, and create their Buying plan accordingly.
If your process isn’t set up in such a way that you can easily pinpoint each step and the time spent on it, maybe it’s time to consider how you can do that. If you’d like to discuss how to do that, please contact me—I’d love to talk with you about how you can use Lean Thinking to improve your sales process.
There is no single Buying Plan that will always guarantee a sale at the end, but the goal isn’t quite to make a sale. The goal of your Buying plan is to help the Buyer make a decision—saving you time invested in making a sale while reducing the number of No Decision and Status Quo prospects in the sales pipeline.
To keep this lean conversation going, consider joining the Lean Selling Group on LinkedIn.
About: Robert Pryor is a Lean Selling author and community builder as well as a CEO, speaker, and educator on cutting-edge sales processes. His new book is Lean Selling: How to Slash Your Sales Cycle and Drive Profitable, Predictable Revenue Growth by Giving Buyers What They Really Want. Follow by joining the LinkedIn Group “Lean Selling” or on Twitter @LeanSelling.