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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

Want to Accelerate the Sales Cycle? Slow Down!

Want to Accelerate the Sales Cycle Slow Down

Studies show that reaching out to leads within an hour of them contacting you makes you seven times likelier to have meaningful conversations, and up to 50% of sales go to the vendor who responded first.

There’s also a tenfold decrease in your odds of making contact with a lead if you wait more than five minutes to reach out after they submit a web form.

Whether from clients, management, or themselves, salespeople are under a lot of pressure to perform faster in their sales processes. We live and work in a fast-paced, “want it now” culture that can feel overwhelming at times. Sometimes, there’s only one solution to closing more deals, and that’s to SLOW DOWN!

Don't Rush Needs Analysis

At The Center for Sales Strategy (CSS), we often work with salespeople who are frustrated with their sales productivity. They feel that activity isn’t moving in the right direction, and closed business is at a standstill. 

As we dive in, we often realize the issue is simple: salespeople are moving through the sales process much too quickly. They’re rushing the needs analysis and then presenting what they have to offer without uncovering desired business results from the prospect in order to move the process forward.

7 Signs You Might Be Doing Your Needs Analysis Wrong

After acknowledging this breakdown in the sales process, the seller can change their approach dramatically by:

  • Becoming more relaxed during the needs analysis phase
  • Taking time to actively listen to prospects and learn how to solve their needs

Not only will this help uncover desired business results, but they also notice prospects are more at ease. When prospects are relaxed, their demeanor changes, and they begin to open up more so that the salesperson can uncover more detailed information.

They’re uncovering real needs and leaving with an assignment instead of trying to close the deal before they truly understood how they could help them.

Uncovering Desired Business Results

When you rush the process, the prospect feels it, too. Take the time to ask the right questions and remember different types of questions lead to different conversations.  Make sure the questions you ask will help to uncover the prospect or client’s desired business results. 

Here are 6 quick tips to help uncover desired business results:

1. Ask questions informed by insights

Ask questions informed by what you have uncovered during your preparation. Don’t show up and ask questions that you can find the answers before the conversation.

For example, “I have read about the impact of review sites and on-demand services on the home services business. I know you’re using Home Advisor and Thumbtack. Based on your experience, what would you say are the pros and cons of these sites?”

2. Start wide and then go narrow

You might start out with a wide question such as, “Is there an area of the business you expected stronger growth than you are seeing this year?”

And then, based on their response, go narrow and ask, “Have you identified the top 2-3 things holding you back?”

3. Ask one question at a time

Complex questions are difficult to answer. It’s counter-productive to ask questions that are hard for the prospect to answer.

Break down your more complicated questions to keep the conversation focused on discussing one question at a time.

4. Listen actively and take notes

You can’t be actively listening if you’re busy forming your next question while the prospect is still answering one. A combination of eye contact and taking notes is best.

Allowing a short pause when the prospect stops talking gives you time to digest what they just said, and it gives the prospect time to think, too.

5. Ask mostly open-ended questions

Most of your questions should be questions that can’t be answered with a simple yes or no. Open ended questions tend to lead the prospect or client to give more detail.

6. Ask closed-ended questions to narrow down

We say most of your questions should be open-ended, but not all of them are. At some point, you will want to use a few clarifying questions to confirm your understanding of what they said.

  • Open-ended: “What have you found is the best way to layer your Social so that it works in conjunction with your Search?”

  • Closed-ended: “Do you feel like your Search and Social spending are working together effectively, so that 1 + 1 = 3?”


Slowing down the process to speed up the sale is something many of us need to remember from time to time.  Following a sales process to uncover a prospect’s needs will help you develop a solution that the prospect will want, inevitably speeding up the sale.

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*Editor's Note: This blog has been updated since its original post date.

Topics: Needs Analysis sales process sales accelerator