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Distribution sales representatives have to understand sales processes and cycles in today's markets. But surprisingly few in sales have spent a lot of time thinking about the customer decision process, according to Todd Youngblood in Synchronize Your Sales Process. As industry expert Mike Marks said in Building an Effective Sales Force for Recovery, distributors sometimes have "selective hearing." "Really listening" to get real answers from customers will make the sales process more effective.
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Timing is everything in sales, and if you're not at the same stage in the process as your customer, you may not get or keep that customer, Youngblood says. For example, if the customer has a crisp answer to the question, "What do you need?," he is already identifying and more likely evaluating alternatives. You had better be delivering your proposal. On the other hand, it's pretty presumptive to be presenting a proposal if the customer is still figuring out the needs.
To ensure that the clock is in your favor, synchronization of your sales process with the customer's decision process is essential. And it requires being a part of the communication process at your customer. Be prepared to change where you thought you were in the process to meet the needs of your customer.