6 Ways to Create Urgency in the Sales Cycle
As a professional salesperson, a common challenge is creating a sense of urgency with your prospects and customers.
Creating a sense of urgency without appearing aggressive or pushy is a learned skill based on conducting good discovery, understanding the needs of the prospect, and asking the right questions of the right people throughout your sales process.
Urgency gives your prospects a reason to move forward and overcome inaction.
You need to help them understand why every day, week, or month without your product hurts their business so they’re compelled to act as soon as possible.
Basically, it comes down to “training” our prospects to understand that if we plan to work together, then we must have a shared sense of accountability.
Some salespeople might resist the notion of creating urgency by saying it’s too difficult to “train” a prospect to think this way, but the truth is, that’s exactly what you’re doing when you’re selling. In order to create a mutually beneficial business relationship, you must set expectations at the beginning of the relationship.
How can you do that?
Let's look at some of the factors that influence your relationship with prospects and customers and what considerations they take into account when it comes to a sense of urgency.
First and foremost is your value proposition. A truly great value proposition introduces you to prospective buyers and helps you make a strong first impression. Your value proposition should describe; how your product or service solves/improves problems, what benefits customers can expect, and why customers should buy from you over your competitors.
An urgency driver helps you communicate your value proposition in a compelling way. There are four things to consider when it comes to drivers:
- Relevance: Did you position your solution in the right context (a specific example or success story related to their industry)? Have you described your solution using terms that will resonate with your prospect or client?
- Clarity: Have you made it simple and clear to your prospect or client how your solution will help them?
- Internal: Have you asked the right questions to understand your buyer's internal motivations? Do you know why they are considering a solution like yours now?
- External: Have you provided external proof (ex: case studies, use-case stories, etc.) to communicate your value and the outcomes you can help this prospect or client achieve?
An urgency inhibitor is an objection or roadblock that needs to be overcome. However, these factors are oftentimes out of your control but deal with two areas:
- Anxiety: Have you established your credibility? Does this prospect or client trust you?
- Distraction: What other priorities are your prospect or client dealing with? Will it distract them from making a decision about your solution?
Now that you know some of the factors that influence your ability to establish a solid business relationship and increase your sales cycle, let's dive in to six simple ways you can start building urgency and accountability into every interaction with a prospect or customer.
You have to plant the seeds of urgency earlier than you think. In other words, this is the first thing you need to do. In the first meeting, you need to deliver a relevant and clear value proposition that speaks to both their internal and external motivations. Then, address your prospect’s anxieties by building trust and credibility through success stories and insights. Finally, eliminate distractions by keeping your presentation simple and personalized for your prospect.
Guide Your Prospects
Your prospects can’t benefit from your product without acknowledging that they need it — so get them to see the big picture with open-ended questions that demonstrate where their needs are and how you can help solve them.
The challenge for a lot of people is putting a name to what they need. They know their challenges and objections, but they are not at the point where they are able to identify how they should go about solving their issues.
That’s where you, the sales rep, comes in. When you can help your target prospect recognize their needs, you will create urgency and increase the likelihood that they’ll take action.
And remember, your actions will affect how your prospect takes action. So make sure you “train” them to understand that time is crucial in the sales process, and if you see a sale lingering, then you must win some commitment for action like a scheduled next step meeting.
Or, if you’re unable to get something set on their calendars, then you must decide whether the sale is really worth it, and if it’s not then you need to determine if it’s time to move on to a more qualified or ready opportunity.
Understand the Decision Making Process
Stop asking “Are you in charge of this decision?”
Instead, go below the surface level of the conversation and try to ask questions that will lead you to understanding exactly how the decision making process works when considering an investment in your product or service. It’s also important to understand who is involved in the decision making process and what criteria they are specifically looking to fill.
If you can understand how they’ve made a decision about a similar product or service in the past, then odds are that the decision about your product or service will be made in essentially the same way.
So, if you learn that past decisions have always been made by a committee, then try to find a way to make your presentation directly to that committee so you can ensure you deliver the same information to the entire group. If this isn't possible, consider creating a document that outlines exactly what you'd want to communicate to the group and share that with your direct contact to deliver to the committee.
One instance to beware of is if you find out the individual you're talking to has no idea how the decision was made last time, you are talking to the wrong person and should find a more appropriate person to guide you.
You have to start at a higher level. Whether that’s the CEO or manager, every change in an organization starts at the top. So, don’t go to the superuser, instead go to the highest level you can get to. Starting there will help you understand the priorities of the organization as well as how decisions are handled and what you can expect during the sales process. This will help you manage your pipeline and time accordingly.
Listen More, Sell Less
Establishing trust and rapport with a new prospect or client takes time. It requires proactive communication, delivering valuable information, and most importantly, active listening.
Selling effectively means listening more than you speak.
The less you pitch your product or service, the more you’ll command the attention of your prospects by leading a two-way conversation.
Of course, you will ultimately be trying to demonstrate your value, but the key to a successful conversation is simply lending an ear. Making the conversation primarily about them, as opposed to what you’re selling, will keep your prospect engaged — and you may be surprised at the urgency you can create by allowing your prospect to come to their own conclusions, as opposed to overwhelming them with sales speak.
When you communicate value, you’re offering beneficial information that informs your prospects’ decisions and helps them in their daily role. Providing a piece of actionable information will be welcomed and helps you maintain communication while building rapport in the process.
Approaching your communication in this way will help you gradually build urgency for those prospects and customers not quite ready to make a decision yet. You worked hard to plant the seed with your prospect, now make sure it grows. Providing value with persistence is what leads to sales wins.
Do this by consistently keeping your prospects engaged with thoughtful and personalized notes, updates, relevant articles, case studies, eBooks and referrals. It only takes a few minutes of your time, and becoming a valuable resource while staying on their radar will keep your offerings a point of focus.
Try incorporating these simple steps into your everyday sales process, and you will not only create a stronger sense of urgency among your prospects, but help build the right expectations and level of reassurance that will ultimately make the buying journey a success for everyone involved.
Looking for more tips on this topic? Sign up for our free webinar on November 19th at 1pm ET to learn how to shorten your sales cycle by shifting your focus. Our goal is to provide actionable strategies that will help you make more sales easier.
*Originally published November 2016. Updated October 2019.
About Molly D Protosow
Molly Protosow is the COO and Training Strategist for DMTraining. She manages the day-to-day business and training operations while helping research and develop new training programs as well as refreshing signature programs to reflect the newest sales trends, technology, and best practices. Molly utilizes her wide-range of skills to create sales and marketing assets focused on delivering value to DMT’s clients. Molly has a passion for learning and leveraging new knowledge and experiences. Outside of DMTraining, Molly is a hard core Pittsburgh sports fan, enjoys staying active by running and golfing, and unwinds by reading and playing the piano.