Why Next Step Selling Will Improve Your Pipeline & Your Sales Activity
If you always ask for the right next steps, you will always have a more qualified pipeline and a more effective way of managing your time and sales activities.
The power of the next step is getting your prospect’s reaction to your request. Informed by their reaction – positive or negative – you can more accurately forecast the sale as well as adjust your strategy early enough to have an impact on that sale.
Spending too much time on sales that eventually don’t close is the number one thing preventing salespeople from reaching aggressive sales goals.
Psychologically, you know you shouldn’t spend time on a deal that won’t close but we are often guided by “look-forward” optimism rather than “look back on time spent” data when determining which accounts to spend time on.
So, why should you incorporate next step selling into your approach? Consider these reasons:
1. It helps you get a reaction
At the end of each meeting, good or bad, you are going to get a reaction. And depending on what you ask at the end of the meeting, you will get different reactions.
For instance, if you were to say, “Do you mind if I call you in a few weeks?” or “Would you mind if I came back tomorrow with the contract for you to sign?” You would certainly get two very different reactions.
Sales come from getting people to commit and say yes to the question: “Can we schedule the next step?”
2. It leads to better selling
The very nature of asking for a next step prompts you to discuss what’s going to happen next.
This allows us to find out important factors like: Who will be at the next meeting? What will we be discussing? What material should we bring? What will we be evaluated on? And finally, what will the next step be after this meeting?
As a result, you end up having a better action plan for what’s happening and what to expect next, as well as, allowing both parties to get to know each other a little better.
The gist: having a desired outcome in mind (AKA securing a scheduled next step) leads to a better meeting.
3. It will shorten your sales cycle
The downside of not securing a scheduled next step is that you will inevitably play phone tag with the person you’re trying to reach.
Why? Because if there isn’t a scheduled next step on this person’s calendar, then the chances of them being at their desk and ready to speak with you at the exact moment you call is slim to none.
Now, you may get lucky, but why take the chance of extending your sales cycle?
The less distance there is between meetings, the shorter the sales cycle, the more they remember you, and the more the sale gains momentum and you can gallop toward a closed deal.
BONUS VIDEO: In this video, I share an example of what happens when you don't have a scheduled next step and then what to do if your buyer keeps stalling their decision:
4. It keeps your pipeline organized and manageable
When you secure the scheduled next step, the meeting can go one of two ways.
If the meeting goes well and it looks like the deal will close, then great!
On the other hand, if the meeting goes poorly and they decide not to move forward to the next step, then you need to replace this prospect.
The perfect time to replace this prospect is before you lose them. In order to do this, you need to practice good territory and account management.
For example, if you will already be visiting company XYZ, then why not select leads who are in that area? And if you’re working with existing accounts and you know you will be speaking with Mr. Smith on the 17th floor at 1:00pm, you know that you have other time slots available to see other people in the building that you may not have met previously.
Next step strategy selling helps point you away from opportunities before it's too late and it goes beyond your normal sales cycle and redirects your time and attention on prospects more likely to close.
To change your sales results, change the next steps you ask your customers and prospects to agree to.
Now that you know why you should always ask for a scheduled next step at the end of every meeting, make sure you're armed with the right information for every meeting with our interactive Information Gathering worksheet.
About Steve Bookbinder
Steve Bookbinder is the CEO and sales expert at DMTraining. He has delivered more than 5,000 workshops and speeches to clients all over the world and has trained, coached, and managed more than 50,000 salespeople and managers. Steve continuously refreshes his training content to reflect his latest first-hand observations of salespeople across industries and regions. Through him, participants in his workshops and coaching sessions learn the best practices of today’s most successful sellers and managers across industries. Steve understands that sales is a competitive game. To outperform competitors and our own personal best results, we need to out-prospect, out-qualify, out-present and out-negotiate everyone else, not merely know how to sell. Through his specialty programs in Pipeline Management, Personal Marketing, Great First Meetings, 2nd-level Questioning, Sales Negotiating, and Sales Coaching, Steve trains sales teams to master the skills they need to overcome the challenges they face in today’s world… and keep improving results year over year.