One of the hardest things to do in sales is “create urgency” when it’s seemingly not there. Sales reps try to manufacture urgency all the time by proactively offering discounts at the end of the month, but that’s just sad. But how do you actually “create” urgency?
Let me be clear – you can’t.
As the CEO of my own company, I sat down with my team towards the end of last year and mapped out our plans for the coming year. We determined our revenue goals and outlined the main priorities for each person on the team and what they needed to do to help us reach those goals. Then we aligned the budget and went to work.
There is no chance that a sales rep is going to call us in the middle of the year and pitch us on something that is going to change our priorities. No chance they’ll then get us to invest in something else that isn’t aligned with our previously defined priorities (i.e. “create” urgency). If what you’re selling doesn’t align with what we’re trying to accomplish then you’ll go into the pile of other solutions we might/should/eventually will take a look at. However, this is where the opportunity for “urgency” sits.
You can’t create urgency but you can uncover and drive it. As a potential buyer of your solution, what I don’t see is how your solution can help me achieve my priorities better, faster, more efficiently, etc. This is where we need to focus our efforts during the qualification phase.
The only way you can uncover and drive urgency in my experience is to truly understand what the priorities of the people you are selling to are and what they’re trying to accomplish. Once you uncover them, you need to show them how your solution can help them get there faster than their existing plans will or in more effectively.
When you’re talking with executives, the focus of this approach needs to be on the business objectives and goals. When you’re talking with non-executives, or people below the “power line,” you should focus more on their personal goals.
The challenge now becomes uncovering these priorities and getting the client to open up to us about them in a meaningful way. Unfortunately the way I used to try and find them out was by taking the lazy approach and saying things like “tell me about your priorities”. Or prospecting into accounts by saying “I’d like to set up some time to talk about your 2020 priorities and how we can help you achieve your goals.”
This general approach almost never yielded results and if I did get a response it was a very general answer which I couldn’t do much with.
Now, I try to understand what their priorities are before I ever talk to them. There is so much information available to use these days that it doesn’t take that much effort to gain some insights into the specific priorities of the company or at the very least the role (title) of the person you’re speaking with.
Finding the right context
Before reaching out to an account, do five minutes of research and look through their earnings reports or review recent press releases. Identify the person you want to reach out to and do a little research on the priorities of their role by going into google and typing “(title) (industry) priorities challenges 2020” or looking through job descriptions of people like them to see what they’re being held accountable for.
With this limited effort and insight, you can reach out to people and instead of saying generic things like “tell me about your priorities,” you can say “we’re working with other execs in your role/industry and they are telling us that their priorities going into 2020 are X,Y,Z. Are those yours?” Even if they aren’t, the fact that you showed you know a little bit about their world tends to open them up.
We can also share our insights of the industry and what other companies like them are doing to see if they have the same ones. Again, even if they don’t, they usually correct you and talk about theirs. This is exactly where we can dig in to find the real priorities and see if we can make the connection to our solution and how it can help them achieve them and ultimately drive urgency.
Stop trying to create urgency, you can’t. But you can uncover it by doing a little bit of homework, being genuinely curious and adding some context and insight to your questions.