I can’t tell you the number of calls that I listen to (or receive) where salespeople do not schedule next steps before ending the call. It’s so basic, so fundamental, yet so often neglected.
Whether it’s an initial cold call, a discovery session, a product demo, or (I shudder at the thought) a proposal review, the lack of direction is startling.
Below I’ll share the importance of next steps, why reps aren’t doing it, and how managers can ensure their reps are scheduling next steps.
The Importance of Concrete Next Steps in Sales
- Efficiency: A streamlined sales process is gold. According to CSO Insights, having a defined sales process can increase win rates by up to 15%. Concrete next steps are a cornerstone of this process.
- Commitment: When both parties agree on a specific next step, there’s a subtle commitment. This can increase the chances of a deal moving forward.
- Clarity: With clear next steps, there’s no ambiguity. Both the rep and the prospect know what’s coming next.
So, Why Aren’t Reps Doing It?
- Fear of Commitment: Some reps fear that setting a concrete next step might deter prospects. They think staying “open-ended” gives prospects breathing room.
- Lack of Confidence: A rep unsure of the call’s outcome might hesitate to suggest the next step, fearing rejection.
- Overlooking the Basics: Surprisingly, some reps get so engrossed in the conversation that they forget this fundamental step.
How to Ensure Reps Schedule Next Steps
- Sales Training: Make next-step training a part of your regular sessions. Emphasize its importance, backed by data. For instance, Hubspot reports that 40-50% of sales go to vendors that respond first. Concrete next steps ensure you’re always a step ahead.
- Role Play: Include the process of setting next steps in your role-playing exercises. Make it second nature.
- Call Monitoring & Feedback: Use call monitoring tools to track how often reps set concrete next steps. Provide feedback and reinforcement.
- Celebrate Wins: When a rep successfully moves a deal forward due to well-defined next steps, celebrate it. Let it be a lesson for the whole team.
The sales dance is a series of well-coordinated steps. Missing one can mean stumbling or even falling flat. As someone who’s been in the sales arena for years, I can’t stress enough the importance of clear next steps. It’s not just about closing the current call; it’s about paving the way for the next one. So, let’s get back to basics, prioritize efficiency, and drive our sales with precision.