Once upon a time a salesperson rushes into the office shouting, “Break out the bubbly because I just closed a sale!” Everyone congratulates the salesperson on their excellent work, knowing the time and effort that goes into each sale. Over the celebratory handshakes and backslapping, a colleague grills the salesperson, hoping to glean some tricks of the trade. “Who was it?”, “How did you do it?”, and “What was the sales process? “
Under this friendly cross examination, the successful salesperson brags about how the sales cycle compressed dramatically on this sale. Successful sales should be celebrated, but sales with ultra-fast closing times should be celebrated cautiously. Certainly some quick closes are smooth and the beginning of a great working relationship; they simply closed fast because the salesperson understood exactly the needs of the prospect, the prospect was already in a mindset to buy, and it was a perfect fit. But often, a fast-closing sale is like building a house without a foundation. It looks nice, but it simply won’t stand up. If your sale is moving at a brisker-than-usual pace, here are two reasons that the fast sale may be worse than you think:
Reason 1: Perhaps the buyer has no intention of paying. If you perform a service or deliver a product and receive payment after delivery, it’s possible that the buyer needs your offering but doesn’t plan on completing the transaction. Maybe they’ll just keep the product and continue putting off the payment. Or maybe they’ll use the product once – as they intended to do – and then return it to you, claiming that it just didn’t work out for them.
Signs that this is happening to your sale: The client pursues you more than most clients do. It’s a new client without a track record of payment. They make demands for specific delivery dates and hint (or even say) that money is no object. To combat this, make sure that you are fully qualifying the client, including their ability to pay. Slow down your sales process a little and see how they react. Ask them about when they plan on using your product. Talk about their longer term needs. At the same time, make friends with upper-level staff in the finance department to turn them into allies.
Reason 2: Perhaps the buyer misunderstands what they are getting, when they are getting it, or how much they need to pay. Maybe they’re expecting one thing and think you’re supplying it, but you’re both in for a shock on the delivery date. Signs that this is happening to your sale: The sales process moves along rapidly and the client seems to agree with everything you’ve said. The client seems fixated on just one feature or benefit or refers to a part of the service rather than the whole. To combat this, do a test drive. Position it as an early-stage implementation “to make sure that the service is the right fit”. Or, if it’s a product and not a service, show it to them (or at least a picture or video of the product). Fast-closing sales in the early stages are a sign to put on the brakes and evaluate the “opportunity.”