In the giddy rush of the sales cycle, we often do whatever we can to “get the deal signed.” I’m not even talking about the shadiness that occurs in many big deals, where the sales rep is not responsible for delivery, just making the numbers by the end of the quarter. I’m talking about small businesses, where everyone is involved in sales and customer success. Even then, pressure to get the deal signed can lead to shortcuts that hurt the relationship, and may even derail the deal.

I’ve found the easiest way to avoid this is to always focus on the end, not the start. The end of the sales cycle is really just the beginning of what the customer wants.  Even before you have identified good customer fit, think of fit for the end, not the sale. This will save you time when dealing with prospects who are not a good fit, and will even make sales easier when you do have a good fit, because you are helping the prospect figure out how to get where they need to go, not just trying to maneuver them where you want them to go.

As you get deeper into the sales cycle, keep the ultimate objective in mind. This helps you interact more productively with your prospect and helps you write your proposal. You are not just writing the story of how to get your sale, you are creating the story of the customer’s success, with them as the heroes, and you as the indispensable guide.

It’s all part of my approach of “sales without selling”.

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