“If you ain’t first, you’re last.” -Ricky Bobby
Sure, it’s funny. But this quote is 100% true in B2B sales. If you aren’t the first salesperson to contact the prospect when he’s ready to buy, you will probably fail to close the deal. There are no second place trophies in sales.
But let’s put that positively — if you ARE first to contact your prospect when the iron’s hot, then you stand a good chance of getting ink on paper. Do it consistently, and you’re on track to crush your numbers and experience true sales success… finally!
And this is as much about speed as it is timing.
Let’s say a lead comes into your funnel — how FAST do you respond? Do you respond within minutes, within hours, within days? If you don’t respond in minutes, then you’re just asking for another salesperson with another offer to swoop in, solve their problem, and earn that commission. You don’t want that.
How do I know this? From decades of personal experience. But it’s also a well-studied area of sales.
According to one study by Salesforce, 72% of B2B buyers say that speed plays a critical factor in their buying process. In that same study, Salesforce found that companies that are faster than their competitors close nearly 40% more deals.
Convincing, right? How about another study that found that salespeople who respond to prospects within 5 minutes are 21 times more likely to qualify them as a sales-ready lead than salespeople that take a full day to respond.
These statistics are enough to light a fire under your feet. After all, the formula is simple: be quick to respond, earn more money. But the story doesn’t end there.
The Benefits of Speed in B2B Sales
Outpace the competition
Have you ever ordered something — anything — and received really fast service? I recently reached out to a home services contractor, and although he didn’t answer, their offices called me back within two minutes. Two minutes! Compare that to two days — or two WEEKS! — that it takes many contractors to reply… IF they reply at all. Needless to say, this particular contractor got my business.
Build lasting relationships
All it took was a tight funnel — and a speedy reply — to earn my trust from that contractor. I consciously thought, “well, if their sales and customer service is this good, their work must also be good.” Now let’s flip that on its head: would you trust someone who takes days to return your call? Maybe. But not as much as you would trust someone who gets back to you in mere minutes. Call it the “speed bias.” It helps to build lasting relationships and position yourself as a big-league industry player.
Shorten the sales cycle
Let’s say your sales cycle is two months. That is, it takes two months from first contact to a signed contract. So it stands to reason that when you act 50% faster, you’ll move prospects through the sales process that much faster. This helps to reduce friction, keeps the proverbial fishing line taut so you don’t lose the prospect, and alleviates the headaches that come from long and complex sales cycles. And of course, a shortened sales cycle ultimately means more money for both you and your company.
Gain a psychological edge
This one is intangible, but it might be the most important point. When you are quick pick up the phone, you are telling your body, mind, and soul that you want to succeed. Slackers and sluggards sit around and procrastinate. You don’t. You know that your very physiology changes when you act fast. This small psychological edge adds up over days, weeks, months, years, and eventually turns into a finely-tuned winning mindset that can change your life. Yes, speed matters more than you ever imagined.
Here’s How to Be FAST in B2B Sales
Dial in your sales process. Know your sales process, print out a visual representation of it, and hang it at your desk. From prospecting to cold calling, to follow-ups and demos and proposals and closing. None of this happens by chance, so it should all be detailed in writing. Then, constantly be on the lookout for holes in the funnel. Are prospects leaking out after demos? Then quit doing demos or make them better! Are they not answering their phones? Then shore up your prospecting! Thankfully, the holes are easy to find and plug. Dial it in.
Leverage the right tools. There’s no shortage of tools that can make you faster. So it’s critical that you use them. There are list-building tools that can scrape and verify leads for you. There are scheduling tools that automate the process of booking meetings. There are even beautifully pre-designed templates you can use for sending out proposals. You should automate everything in your sales process that doesn’t have to do with you speaking human-to-human with your prospect. That can never be automated.
Stay on your toes. As Andrew Huberman says, you can either be flat-footed, back on your heels, or forward center-of-mass. It’s your choice. I choose to be forward center-of-mass, always proactive and pushing. If you want to succeed in the world of sales, you have to adopt this mindset and physiological position. It will make or break you. Those who get caught on their heels will get found out and exposed. And those who take the world by the horns are the ones who are remembered.
Start your day fast. Wait, what does that mean? Those who start their day fast are more likely to stay fast throughout their day. This means get out of bed fast. The moment your alarm rings, get up. Cast your bed aside like an old pair of shoes. Then take a fast cold shower, do some fast calisthenics, and wherever else it makes sense, choose to be fast before making calls. Speed breeds speed. Just one caveat here: some things are meant to happen at normal speeds (ahem, speed limits anybody?).
Follow the 1 minute rule. Reply within 1 minute. Not 10 minutes, 5 minutes, or 2 minutes. When a prospect is hot, they’re HOT. And sometimes it only takes mere minutes for them to turn cold. So drop whatever you’re doing and get in touch. OK – would it really make a difference if you waited 2 minutes or 5 minutes? Maybe not. But if you have to make a rule — and you DO — then why not make it 1 minute? The world of sales is not for the faint of heart. You must give yourself every edge you can.
So there you have it. It’s time to get out there and be FAST in sales. You now have all the knowledge needed to adopt a speedy sales approach. Remember, the faster you are (within reason), the more money you will make, and the more lives you will change for the better.
Until next time…