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The First Seller to Answer the Buyer’s Question Wins By Andy Paul


Customers today are armed with a wealth of data gleaned from the Internet about the products and services they want even before they contact a seller for the first time. Given the trove of information available online, if a buyer still has questions after doing their research, then their need for an answer is, by definition, urgent and critical. When that customer contacts a seller, they want an answer right now in order to make an informed buying decision in the least time possible.

The first seller to be absolutely responsive to the buyer’s need for information wins. Every person-to-person interaction between a salesperson and a customer, who must be presumed to have already researched your service online, requires the salesperson to be completely responsive and create value for the customer in the least time possible.

Why are responsiveness and creating value so important? Here are two important reasons:

1. For all businesses, responsiveness is inextricably linked to content and speed.
If you’re a seller and your customers are working their way, step by step, through their decision-making process (otherwise known as the buying cycle), they won’t move from one step to the next until their information requirements for the current step are completely satisfied. Without responsiveness, a sale, or a buying cycle, will come to a screeching halt.

2. When you create value for the customer during the selling process, you build trust and differentiate your company from your competition

A customer may have 80% of the facts about your service when they first contact you, but they’ll understand very little about the intangible value your company or service can add to their business. Being “absolutely responsive” will quickly give you that intangible advantage over your competition.

There are four simple rules to being absolutely responsive to your customer:

1. Responsiveness = Content + Speed
2. You aren’t absolutely responsive unless you are completely responsive
3. A fast but incomplete response to a customer’s request for information is the same as no response at all
4. A complete but slow response to a customer is marginally better than no response

That’s what Zero-Time Selling™ is about: using absolute responsiveness to reduce to zero the amount of time required to convert a sales lead into a satisfied customer.

Do whatever is necessary to take the prospect’s breath away with your responsiveness. Keep in mind that every interaction with you takes time that the customer could be spending on other important tasks. The customer’s return on the time they have invested in the buying process with you will fall dramatically if you aren’t completely responsive. A completely responsive salesperson not only follows up with the prospect in Zero-Time but also has the knowledge and experience to answer virtually 100% of the prospect’s questions on the spot.

Think about the negative compounding impact of having salespeople who are not in command of all the facts about their service. The extra time they spend shuttling between your experts and the customer is time they could be devoting to other prospects. If all of your salespeople aren’t completely responsive, your company will handle fewer prospects than it should, in essence handing business to a competitor’s salesperson who is completely responsive.

Here’s a quick story to illustrate my point.

Recently I was shopping online for a particular service. I spent a few hours researching the alternatives and narrowed my choices to one system that seemed to fit my needs. I had some questions before I could make a decision. I tried to find a phone number to call, but they didn’t offer one. So, I tracked down an email address for their sales department and submitted a list of five specific questions.

Within an hour I received an email response. Needless to say I was encouraged. I like doing business with like-minded companies. Then I read the response. As best I could tell, it didn’t appear to have been machine-generated, but even still.

Dear Andy,

Thank you for your interest in XXXXXXXXX. We are here to help you. Please let me know if you have any questions.

Sigh. I bought from another company.
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Andy Paul is the CEO of Zero-Time Selling, Inc. and the author of Zero-Time Selling: 10 Essential Steps to Accelerate Every Company’s Sales.