One of the more trendy buzzwords in business in the past year has been “responsive.” As it relates to technology, the discussion centers around responsive web design (RWD). RWD is an approach to building websites that provides an optimal viewing experience across multiple devices – from desktop computers to a trusty iPhone.
Google made RWD a critical business issue in April of this year when the search engine announced that non-responsive websites would see a significance decrease in mobile search results. In other words, websites that can be viewed easily on both desktop and mobile devices would outrank sites that do not – pretty important when you consider the client-facing web experience is generally the first impression a potential consumer sees about an organization.
When the same word is applied to sales teams, it has a much different – and often, misinterpreted – meaning. To the vast majority of salespeople, being responsive means they must reply IMMEDIATELY to every inquiry, voicemail, email, text, tweet, or Facebook message from a client. These are the salespeople that struggle to finish quotes and client presentations on time because they have dedicated themselves to being the fastest responsive gun in the industry.
Responsiveness in sales is much more than being fast. Here’s an example: a lead arrives from your (hopefully responsive) website and, to show how quick you are to respond to any inquiry, you call them within three minutes of getting the initial email. However, if you can’t answer any of the questions they pose, your speedy response time is not only irrelevant, it’s bad business.
If you don’t give relevant information or content that speaks directly to the needs of your customer, responsiveness has no value. A salesperson who is effectively and responsibly responsive knows that it’s a delicate balance of speed, quality, and control:
Speed – Stop trying to break the record for fastest response time; instead, define reasonable expectation metrics for how long it should take you (or your team) to respond to emails, voicemails, and leads – and stick to them.
Quality – In our information society, speed over accuracy has led to a dramatic erosion of quality. Think about how foolish media outlooks appear as they fall all over themselves to the first to report a breaking news story. Your clients would much rather you take a few extra minutes to provide them quality information than have you be the quickest to respond.
Control – Clients who give you multiple projects at a time are notorious for contacting you numerous times a day for updates. A better solution – and one that your client will appreciate – is for you to take control of the communication process. Commit to sending an email at the end of every business day to provide status reports. Coach them to respond to those emails with any questions of clarification. They will welcome you leading the flow of information and you will enjoy the time saved by not responding to 12 emails a day.
Being responsive is much more than a simple exercise in quickness – it’s helping your client move through the buying process by balancing the speed, quality, and control of information. Doing so will help forge stronger and longer lasting relationships with your clients.
Bill has over 15 years working in executive leadership position at leading promotional products distributorships. In addition, he launched brandivate – the first executive team outsourcing company solely focus on helping small promotional products companies responsibly grow their business. In March of 2015, Bill began a partnership with Proforma to assist their Owners growing their individual distributorships. A former speaker at the PPAI Winter Expo and current member of the board of directors for the Promotional Products Association of the Mid-South (PPAMS), Bill has extensive real-world practice coaching sales teams, creating successful marketing campaigns, developing operational policies and procedures, creating and delivering RFP responses, and successfully presenting promotional solutions to Fortune 500 clients.