The phrase “It’s not a matter of if but when” for most of the world is a compelling and calming message. The idea that something IS going to happen is enough. It makes most of us comfortable and alleviates the stress of the unknown. In sales however, “when” something is going to happen, is as important as “if” something is going to happen and if you can’t nail the when, you’re only doing half your job.
Knowing “when” a customer is going to buy is less about if they want to buy and more about why they want to buy. People want a lot of things, however making the move or pulling the trigger, actually making the purchase, is built on why they want it and the impact it has on the current situation. In other words it depends on how bad the pain is.
Pain and pain alone determine the speed of change. The greater the pain, the quicker the sale is made. The less pain that exists the slower the sales process is.
It’s not enough to know if your prospect likes your solution, if they say they want it or if they think it’s a perfect fit, if you don’t know why they need to change in the first place. Without knowing why a customer is thinking about changing, you don’t know how big their problem is and more importantly, how quickly they need to change.
Need and desire to change is directly behind the speed at which a company changes. The more important the new state is to attain or the more important it is to leave the current state, the faster your customer or prospect is going to move.
Knowing when your customers and prospects are going to buy is rooted squarely in the level of pain they are experiencing and their motives for change. Spend your time trying to understand why your customer wants to change and what would happen if they didn’t. If change isn’t compelling, if you can’t clearly articulate the importance of the new state, understanding when they will make the decision becomes very difficult.
In sales, knowing if they will close AND when are what we’re paid for. Just because your customer “wants” something doesn’t mean they are ready to buy it. That decision comes from an entirely different place. Start spending as much time as you can understanding when they will buy, not just if they will buy, your manager will thank you for it.