Pacing Your Sales Speed to a Customer’s Need

Kevin Davis

By Kevin Davis

Most salespeople have been taught that a faster pitch means a faster close. In my experience, salespeople who hurtle through their sales process without paying attention to the speed of the customer’s buying process are going to lose the sale.

One example of a “speed mistake” is when a salesperson is passive while the customer is defining their needs but then suddenly goes from zero to 60 while explaining their solution. This kind of salesperson assumes the customer will see the offered solution as a perfect fit to their problem, which is unlikely. Rarely will a need that is identified by the a salesperson without the customer’s involvement match exactly the strengths of an offering. Your salesperson will just end up in a price war because customers will be comparing ill-fitting solutions from multiple competitors.

To get customers to see a better fit between your solution and their problems, your sales reps need to slow down the early sales conversations and help them define their needs in a way that shifts the odds in your favor. Salespeople who probe to understand the reasons and causes for a stated customer’s need will likely discover a second need, which not only helps them create more buying desire in the customer, but gives them an edge over competitors!

Here’s a second speed mistake: When a prospect calls, many salespeople fail to ask a vital question: “What steps have you taken thus far in your decision-making process?” It’s important for the salesperson to learn what stage of the buying process each prospect is at. Is the prospect just thinking about this idea, perhaps wondering if they have a need to do something? Or has this prospect already been meeting with some of your competitors and now likely shopping for a good price?

In today’s more challenging sales environment, the sales leader will be the one who takes the time to understand the customer’s buying process. Make sure that’s your salespeople’s starting point for every sales call. The key to differentiating your team is to match sales speed with the customer’s buying needs.

Kevin Davis is president of TopLine Leadership, Inc., ( a leading sales and sales management training company serving clients from diverse sectors. His book “Slow Down, Sell Faster!” was published earlier this year.