Two Footed Driving

In which we learn to consider shorter cycle times when communicating with clients and prospects. How many feet do you use to drive your car? A friend and I enjoy lively discussions of this subject.

Her view is: “You drive an automatic transmission car with your right foot. That’s the safe way. You should never use your left foot to drive.” I, on the other hand, drive two-footed: Left foot for brake, right foot for gas. My left foot is always cocked, just barely caressing the brake pedal except when I’m driving in light traffic on a major highway. This makes my friend crazy. I simply look at the results:

Major accidents and cars totaled Friend: 7. Me: 0.

We live and drive in a narrow-streeted city for whose residents turn signals are a sign of weakness. Patience are something doctors treat in hospitals. My view is: A 0.9 second reaction time gas-to-brake is too slow. With both feet engaged, I can accelerate or stop almost instantly.

As salespeople, we must learn to drive two-footed in our sales cycles. As our clients respond to business at Web speed, they’re lurching, turning, and restructuring, often without warning. They need something…then they don’t. They’re headed this way…. and then they aren’t. They set a two-week deadline…. and then it’s two days. We must learn to shorten our response cycle times by half while we maintain our momentum. Some two-footed ideas:

  • Communicate more often. If we touch clients 4 times a year to “stay in touch,” consider 8. If we typically contact our clients twice a week during an active sales process, consider daily.
  • Establish more interactive, two-way communication with clients. Ask clients to share information with us so that we can anticipate issues and accelerate faster to address them.
  • Restructure sales teams so that nobody “drives alone:” We can’t always respond immediately when a client wants to make a change. Make sure there’s a backup who can hit the brakes or the gas if the primary sales representative is not able to respond immediately.
  • Design shorter communications links with tech support or product experts needed to address client questions and breakdowns. “We’ll get back to you tomorrow” may be too slow.
  • Shorten proposals and contracting processes:
  • If our proposals are 20 pages, can we make them 10?
  • Could we standardize portions of the 20 pages so we need to write only 10 fresh pages?
  • Could we stop writing “proposals” altogether?
  • Could we establish “master contracts” with clients so that, when they need something, we can write an addendum to the contract rather than writing a completely new contract?

The shorter the reaction time between client and sales rep, the more “aligned” or “in rapport” both will feel. Put your left foot on the brake. Enjoy the ride.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.