This information is critical to everything you do as a salesperson working with designers. Without it, you don’t have –
- A place to work toward or back from.
- An actual sense of urgency and completion based on THEM, not based on whether you get it in to make your month, this month.
- Data in your pipeline that is accurate and relevant to your goal – this month or any month to come.
- A real sense of where this project is and when it’s going to start or finish.
- Any control over YOUR sales process and your business.
Without a place to work toward or back from, you have no ‘context’ for the business conversation. Without that, the conversation will drift somewhere and will likely end up with the designer leaving the showroom with a couple of tear sheets and even a quote, leaving you feeling confident that ‘this is going to happen’….and the chase begins.
Without an actual sense of urgency based on THEM you will push this sale to a date that YOU need to have the order in. They will feel the push and will either push back or disappear. Ask “Have you established a date for delivery / installation yet?” and if they say they haven’t, then ask when they think the client would like to see this project completed. If they don’t know that either, consider that they are either very early in the process or they are not managing this project…the client is.
Without accurate data in your pipeline, you are living in a dream world, void of reality. It feels good to be there for awhile and it gets very uncomfortable around the 21st of the month…when you start getting scared about not making goal and either take no action or take desperate action. If you cannot accurately project your business, you will consistently NOT make goal. This is YOUR business and you need to drive this side of the transaction to support the manufacturing of product to fulfill your designer’s time frame.
Without a real sense of where the project is you don’t have the opportunity to determine how much of this project you can go after. If they are early in the process (such that they don’t have an installation settled yet) you can source LOTS of product by opening up the conversation about the PROJECT rather than the product that brought them in today. If they are late in the project and are looking for quick lead times, your actions will be very different.
Without an installation date, you will not manage YOUR sales process. You will treat all quotes the same…and they are not. You will not go ‘wide and deep’ if they are early, and you won’t ask for the sale if they are getting close to that date.
If they don’t have a date, SET ONE for them. Tell them that you want them to meet whatever budget and deadline they will have so that their client is happy AND so that you can “manage the milestones” to completion date.
For instance, if they say the installation date is mid January (10 weeks away), you start to itemize the ‘milestones’ by when actions need to happen and decisions need to be completed. Say “To ship by January 10, we need to order by November 10, which means that you need to have a check from your client by November 5 in order to get one to me on time. Are those dates doable for you?” And get agreement from them.
Ask how you can support them in meeting these dates (with reminders or phone calls).
You either own your sales process or you don’t. If you do, you will have straight conversations with your designers about how the process works so that the process works. Or you can avoid it and hope and pray that it will just happen and plan to make lots of calls the last week of the month and leave messages that do not compel the designer to take action. YOU choose either way, as you are the ONLY one responsible for your success or lack of it.