We’ve all been there in sales. We have a prospect that we KNEW was a lock. We gave the pitch, asked for the business, and now are waiting on their answer.
But the more we wait, the more we lose our sales momentum. When we don’t set the pace, we have deals that turn from green to red quickly.
So how can we manage sales pace & momentum?
Luckily, we have an industry vet in Rich Franklin to help take us through the process he has used to close countless deals.
On this episode of The Inches Podcast, we dive into the keys to sales pace and momentum in the sponsorship industry.
You can listen to the full episode HERE. But as always, I dive into some key points below.
No two prospects are the same.
Before we dive into the mechanics, we need to get a bit in the clouds here to help us level set.
In sales, we must remember that no two prospects are the same.
Everyone has different budget seasons. Different sales cycles. Different buying processes. These buying processes many times are locked…it will take a lot to get them to break it.
We are starting here because the quickest way to kill a deal is trying to force a sale through that goes against their buying process. It will come off as salesy and kill the trust.
So how can you make sure you don’t get into this scenario? ASK in the first meeting about the process of purchasing.
Simply ask them, “To ensure I am getting the right pace here as we see if this is a fit, what’s usually the budget or buying process for you all?
Is this something you could sign a contract tomorrow or do we need about a month to get approval if this is a right fit?
When we make this clear upfront, we do two things:
- We build trust with the prospect. We make it clear we aren’t here to jam a sale down their throat. We are here to ensure that we can sell to them at a pace that is comfortable for them.
- It helps us manage the next step in a way that goes over well with the prospect.
So first step, find out the buying process from your prospect in the first meeting. It will help set up your strategy for the rest of the deal flow.
What do we need to do to keep the momentum moving forward?
We never want to get to a step where there are no clear next steps. Ambiguity kills momentum.
So with every meeting, we should be prepared to think about, “What is the step I need the prospect to commit to in order to keep the deal moving forward?”
Again, this will depend on what you find out in their buying process, but we always want an action step to get the momentum moving forward.
The most common step? Asking to schedule the next meeting.
An example, you just did a discovery call with a prospect. It went well and you feel there is a fit and interest.
End the meeting with this; “Well it seems like there is a fit here. What I would like to do is go back and put together a proposal that fits the needs we discussed. Can we schedule a follow-up call so I can present them and we can go over them?”.
With this step, we are getting a commitment for a future meeting that will help get us closer to a decision.
If we ended the call with “We’ll put something together and email it.” we take the momentum out of our control. What happens if we send it over and then get crickets? We are now chasing to get that momentum back with an answer.
Now I know what you all are thinking…I get “We don’t need a meeting, just send us more materials.”
This sucks, and I will dive into how this may be a first sign that this is a suspect and not a prospect. But if this happens, we have to try and create a step to keep the sales pace going.
A couple of responses that will work:
- Communicate urgency. Letting them know that you don’t want to waste their time or yours if this isn’t a fit. If you can get this next meeting set, we can see within 30 minutes if we should keep talking
- Putting the ball back in their court. Ask them if a proposal call isn’t a good use of time for the next step, what other info will they need in order to decide that you can chat about?
Again, we don’t want to be pushy…but we do want to make sure we can keep the momentum moving.
If they say no to the next step, they might be a suspect…not a prospect
This is one of the biggest ideas and frameworks that I learned while chatting with Rich. There are not just prospects. A potential client falls into two buckets. They are either a prospect or a suspect.
Prospect: There is potential that they want to buy your product. A real chance. Not a hope.
Suspect: There is not a good fit or chance they buy. Usually, they look like a buyer, but at the end of it, you realize this was never going to be the case.
We want to find out if a potential client is a suspect as fast as possible. Why? Our time is valuable. We don’t want to waste it chasing a client that will never buy.
If a prospect doesn’t agree to a next call, just wants you to send info, and doesn’t clarify what info, there is a high likelihood they are a suspect.
So what do we do? We say no problem, send them the info, and spend very little time checking back in with them.
Why? Because hope is not a strategy. We’ve all been there. We have a prospect that we hope comes in, despite there being little evidence that they will.
This is a perfect tactic to help weed out the suspects.
Now this doesn’t mean we totally ignore the potential client as soon as they say no to that meeting. We can create a momentum tactic to try and reignite the pace.
For example, you send the info and a week later follow up asking what stood out to them in the materials you sent over? If they respond specifically, you have momentum back.
Let’s say they liked the reach with families that the team has, you now have a context to keep the conversation moving.
If they just say “We are reviewing internally and will get back to you if there is interest.” It is probably time to move your momentum efforts onto another prospect.
Losing momentum & gaining it back
Sometimes we lose momentum. It happens. You tried to schedule the follow-up call, but they passed, and now you have no idea where you are with the deal.
But you know from your conversations that there was interest. You still have a strong feeling they are a prospect.
The first step; look at where they fell out of the funnel.
Was it after the discovery call? Was it after the proposal call? Did you send follow-up info and it didn’t get a response?
All of these scenarios will represent a different tactic because context matters.
We never want to send a “just checking in” email. This doesn’t create urgency. Urgency reignites momentum. You need to specifically ask a question that will reignite their interest.
An example, let’s say you did a discovery call where you found out their goal is to reach families. From there, it fell off after they had to reschedule a follow-up call and never did.
Reaching families is the unscratchable itch they need to scratch. That is your “in” moment.
Follow up could look like this:
“Hi Nate, last we spoke you were looking to reach families. Reaching out as we just added a new kids’ zone to our stadium. I had a few ideas about how we could integrate your brand into it authentically.
Have some time next week to chat about those ideas?”
If reaching families is still their goal, you will most likely get a response.
Notice though how the ask is a quick call. Again you are trying to avoid getting back into the “send me the ideas and we will review” answer. Trying to set up a follow-up call will help.
Activations or new ideas are perfect ways to rekindle momentum
We see this a lot in our work at SQWAD. You have a prospect that said they want to earn leads…you sent over a proposal…then crickets.
Many times the perfect way to rekindle that conversation is with a new and creative campaign or activation that will stand out.
For example, let’s say a car dealership said they were looking to gain qualified leads AND stand out to fans. The signage package and basic sweepstakes didn’t stand out.
Following up with a mock-up of a Scoreboard Trivia activation that earns email leads, grabs attention, and builds relationships can be the perfect thing to replace the “just following up” email.
If you are in a rut with a prospect, our activations can be the perfect spark to reignite the momentum. They are branded, creative, and a unique piece of inventory that is sure to get them excited.
Last, don’t let a prospect set a pace that doesn’t fit your team
Momentum can be great, but it also can also lead to your team making bad decisions on sponsorship.
For example, let’s say a prospect is ready to go right after your discovery call. They lay out that they want all the rink boards for the season…but they want a package deal to bring the cost down. They want to sign the contract next week.
You may at first think “Oh man! This is a big deal! We can sell all our rink board space right now and be done!”
But…how much is that extra space worth? With the discount, how much are you leaving on the table?
Even bigger, what if there is a bigger deal out there that will require at least some rink board inventory?
This is the case where the prospect shouldn’t set the pace. You need to go back to them and let them know you need more time to assess that.
This gives you time to get creative. Maybe you can commit to 1/4 of the rink boards in prime placement, and from there if there is an open inventory by a certain date they have first rights to buy those at a bit of a discount.
We can’t just go off the sales pace of our prospects. Slow it down, get creative, and make sure you are making the right deal.
Sales momentum and pace are key in sales. For every interaction or meeting, having a plan for how to keep the momentum moving forward is vital to closing the deal.