No Deadline, No Deal: Deadlines Make the Finish Line
Deadline drives all sales. If it wasn’t for the last minute, few would buy. As a sales professional, understanding and managing deadlines drives your forecast and pipeline.
A deadline is the best indication of purchase priority. It’s fundamental to every deal.
No deadline, no deal.
There are two types of deadlines: internal and external.
Internal deadlines get set by the strategist, the person keeping score with KPIs. There’s a high probability of hitting that deadline or someone’s dead – or their career takes a hit.
When the deadline looms or there’s an emergency, companies pay extra to expedite a solution. For example, overnight delivery costs 20-30 times greater when compared to first class mail service. Faster costs more.
Understanding internal deadlines lets you judge priority and decide how to allocate sales resources.
External deadlines we put on the customer. “If you order before the end of the month, I can knock off an additional 10 percent.” You always give away margin when using an external deadline. An external deadline attempts to alter the customer priorities by trading budget for urgency.
For high-consideration offerings, this rarely works to the seller’s advantage, instead tipping your hand to show the buyer how low you’ll go. And when they’re ready to place the order, they’ll want the same deal, and will probably hold out until you give it to them.
Don’t offer discounts in exchange for an earlier order. It screws up margins, teaches customers to expect discounts, and rarely brings in the deal sooner.
Exceptions to the no discounts rule:
1) You hold excess inventory (products, labor, empty calendar dates, perishable offerings) and need to move product now. When the overstock is gone, so is the deal.
2) You have a price increase and offer to sell at the existing price now.
Smart Deadline Questions
Uncover deadlines with these smart questions:
- When does this need to be in place? (Installation deadline)
- When do you want to start? (Availability deadline)
- When do your people need to be trained? (Team readiness deadline)
- What has to happen before you can begin? (Gating factor to the deadline)
The response to the last question uncovers if there are things you can do to accelerate the deal. Perhaps you can clear the way with your products or services.
“You said that before you can start, you must ______. I’ve got good news! We can do that as part of the project.”
Notice that the question NOT to ask is, “When will you make the decision?” The answer to this is much more accurately determined from the other deadline questions. Besides, they’ve already decided, they haven’t yet made the commitment. (What’s the difference? Read about it here.)
Now that you understand their priorities, you can focus on top issues and learn about what creates value for them.
On another note, Let’s have a conversation about speaking at your next event, growing your business through strategic planning, marketing plans, executive coaching, and customer acquisition systems. Find a mutually agreeable time at MarksSchedule.com or contact me.
Or you might like to listen to other topics like this on the SellingDisruptionShow.com, the weekly podcast for professionals whose job depends on disruptive sales and marketing.