The Key to Any Great Sales Conversation? Setting a Next Step Every Time

Great sales people always make sure that the route forward is clearly defined. Are you getting it right?


Let's suppose that you know the product you are selling inside and out.

Let's suppose that you have a great interaction with a potential customer who really seems to need your product.

It seems like a home run; a certain sale.

Yet hours turn into days which turn into weeks and the sale doesn't get closed, until eventually, out of frustration, you're forced to move on.

Sound familiar?

Maybe you need to consider the fact that you're missing one small, vital piece of the sales puzzle...setting the next step.

In the ground-breaking book Getting Things Done by management consultant and executive coach David Allen, a key concept in any pathway to success is understanding the next action.

"What's the next action? This is the critical question for anything you've collected," he writes, "if you answer it appropriately, you'll have the key substantive thing to organize.

The 'next action' is the next physical, visible activity that needs to be engaged in, in order to move the current reality toward completion." - David Allen

The same principle holds true for sales. Reaching agreement with the prospect on what comes next is the critical step in making a sale.  

A lot has changed in sales over the years.

New technologies have transformed the sector; from smart account-based selling tools to the power of integrating Salesforce and insightful, actionable analytics. Sales engagement companies such as Groove are able to provide services that transform any sales organization with a suite of helpful products.

Yet the fundamentals of selling never change, and chief amongst these is getting the prospect to agree to the next step.

What Is the Next Step?

There's no single answer to that question. How you move a sale forward depends on what stage of the process you are in.

Are you trying to get the prospects onto an e-mail list? To try out a demo? To speak to their boss?

No matter what the next step is in your particular interaction, make sure that it's vital in creating the trusting relationship of collaboration that will lead to the sale. Naturally, the main goal is closing the sale.

But for every single stage, there are micro-wins to be gathered along the path that build towards the final commitment. Remember that you want both sides to be happy by the time you shake on the deal. The key to a win-win scenario is honest negotiation.

"Negotiation is not a competition," says Stuart Diamond, a Harvard Law School graduate who teaches negotiation tactics and strategies to students and Fortune 500 executives at The Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, "it's a collaboration." -John Rampton for inc.c

In The Digital Age

The digital economy requires a great deal of the sales process to take place without actual live interaction between salespeople and customers. Sophisticated online tools, social media, and analytics are used to drive the conversation forward and ‘engagement’ is the key metric used to measure audiences.

Yet even in this new age, setting the next step is vital.

The key is choosing optimal technology that enhances your sales reps’ existing sales funnel and marries it to that next-step mentality.

For example, Groove has developed a product called Flow, which is able to boost engagement and to turn prospects into customers by creating multi-step campaigns that help reps send personalized emails and make calls at scale.

By selecting, integrating, and utilizing the right technology, you can free your sales reps from spending their time on unrelated tasks, and they can get back to creating a good relationship between the two parties and focusing on what is most important...

Setting the next step.

Building Momentum

The goal to bear in mind when you are negotiating with a prospect is that you're trying to build momentum so that the deal starts to feel like an inevitability for both parties. Setting the next step, in agreement with the prospect, means you are one step closer to your goal.

So the next time you're coming to the end of a successful meeting with a client, and you can sense that it's gone well, take a moment to reflect.

Does the client appears to be interested in learning more and moving the conversation forward?

This is the critical moment in the negotiation: set a very specific next step, a date when it should be accomplished, and make sure that both parties understand the reasons behind taking the next step.

In that way, you'll be well on your way to the sale.