Chamber Membership: 4 Ways To Shorten The Sales CycleTuesday, November 4, 2014
This is the sixth post in the guest blog series by Kelly Fanelli, the Membership Director at the Chamber of Commerce of the Palm Beaches in West Palm Beach, Florida. (Need to catch up? Start from the beginning.)
If you’ve been in the Chamber business for a while, you know the more time that goes by in a sales cycle, the less likely your prospect is to become a Chamber member.
If you’re new to the Chamber world, take my word for it.
So how do you take control of the sales cycle and shorten it? In today’s blog post, I will teach you how to get appointments quickly, how to make sure all decision makers are present, how to avoid overselling, and how to know when to walk away.
1) Get the appointment QUICKLY
Personal phone calls or visits are best, but if you’re having trouble reaching your prospect, don’t doom them to playing phone tag. My rule is two rounds. Then, I send them an email.
In the email, I suggest two dates and times—next Tuesday at 10 am or Friday at 2:30 pm, for example. Notice I’ve chosen two different days and two different times, so they have some flexibility. One of two things will usually happen—they will pick one or suggest another specific day and time.
Don’t send an email that says, “Let’s get together sometime.” You’ll waste your time with a series of emails before you finally settle on an appointment.
Take control of the process from the beginning. You’ll earn the respect of your prospect, and they’ll let you control the rest of the cycle.
fa-star Kelly Fanelli 101
Try to suggest a time or day that you KNOW will work for them. When I first meet prospects, I make a note of the date and time on the back of their business cards.
If they are out networking on a Thursday, that may be a day with more flexibility in their schedules.
If I met them at a morning event, that’s a clue that this is a morning person and I’ll suggest a coffee meeting with them. If I met them at a lunch event, I’ll schedule a lunch or afternoon appointment.
We want to talk to our prospects when they are at their very best – not rushed, not tired and cranky. It’s about setting a time and day that works best for them, not for you!
2) Make sure all decision makers are present
Classic words that hijack your sales cycle: “I can’t make a decision without my partner/boss/wife. “
One sure way to shorten the cycle is to realize you’ll never close a sale without ALL of the decision makers at the table. Don’t have multiple appointments with multiple people.
Take control of your sales cycle. Confirm they are all there before you try to close the sale or set up your closing appointment. Don’t make the mistake of realizing it when you get there.
fa-star Kelly Fanelli 101
There’s a phrase I use when setting up the close for a membership that works every time: “Is there anyone else whose input we’ll need to move forward with a membership for you?” It’s your responsibility to ask. Practice the phrase until it rolls off your tongue.
3) Don’t oversell
First, ask questions about their business and identify what elements of your programming will work best for them. When you hear the words “that sounds great,” ask for the check.
Don’t oversell. Don’t get carried away and go on and on about how great your Chamber is. Ask for the check.
4) Know when to walk away
If you’ve walked carefully through your sales cycle, answered all their questions and are sure you have all the decision makers at the table, ask for the sale. If they stall or say no, WALK AWAY.
Sometimes things will happen that kill your sale and you may never know why. Maybe they are getting ready to go out of business or sell their business and they can’t tell you. Maybe they like you and they just don’t want to tell you no.
They may be picking your brain. Don’t fall into the trap of becoming their marketing consultant and giving free advice when they have no intention of joining.
Don’t be stubborn, or let your ego get the better of you. Sometimes walking away is the smart thing to do.
fa-star Kelly Fanelli 101
There’s a phrase I use to walk away: “We’ve answered all your questions and it seems the timing is just not right for you to join now. I’m going to close your file and you can get back in touch with me when the timing is right.”
One of two things will happen:
They will say, “Ok, close my file and I’ll be in touch.” Great, we’re done and I’m walking away.
Or they will say, “No, don’t close my file! I want to join!” Great, now we’re back in the sales cycle and I can figure out what I did wrong. Did I answer all their questions? Did we have all the decision makers at the table?
Now you’ve got some tips to take control of your sales cycle. You know how to get the appointment quickly, how to make sure all decision makers are present, and how to avoid overselling.
Finally, knowing when to walk away is sometimes the most important part. Continued follow-up with a prospect who has no intention of joining your Chamber is fatal. Are you making that mistake?
Remember, the more time that goes by in a sales cycle, the less likely it is that your prospect will become a Chamber member. The shorter the sales cycle, the better!
What are your tactics for shortening the sales cycle? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!