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By Stephan Schiffman

Don't rush the sales cycle...

* Don't rush the sales cycle.
* Don't underestimate the importance of prospecting.
* Monitor your prospecting results. Do 20 completed calls result in at least five scheduled appointments? Do those five scheduled appointments result in at least one sale? Those are the goals you should shoot for.
* If you're finding that, over and over again, you're losing sales because of the same objection--say, that your price is too high--you are probably facing some problem on an organizational level. Take the time to talk to your sales manager about your company's strategies and market position.
* Once you have made contact by telephone, build your first in-person visit upon your past discussion with that contact. Don't begin from scratch as though you'd never spoken with your contact before! If possible and appropriate, mention some memorable element or remark from the earlier phone conversation. This will move the prospect away from the "it's-time-to- talk-to-some-salesperson" mindset and toward the "this-is-that-interesting- person-from-that- interesting- company" mindset.
* Don't obsess on a single account. I worked with one woman who boasted that she had visited a single account 33 times before closing. That may sound impressive--but what if the time she spent on that call could have been devoted to prospecting efforts that would have led to two (or, quite possibly, considerably more) sales?
* Don't try to present during the interview state.
* Don't confuse a presentation with a demonstration. The presentation is what you do after you've gotten all the information you need from the prospect during your interviewing stage. A demonstration of your product or service may take place much earlier, it's something you do to elicit interest at an earlier point in the same cycle.
* Visit the prospect's manufacturing facility or other "real-world" environment.
* Encourage the prospect to visit your office.
* If your selling environment and industry are appropriate for it, consider using flip charts or writing on large mounted sheets of paper during your presentation. It gets people involved and engages the visual sense.


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