In many industries, salespeople are familiar with a class of potential prospects called the ‘be-back.’ If you are in real estate, a ‘be-back’ could be the potential buyer who spends an hour looking at one of your open houses and promises to “be back” later with their spouse. But doesn’t. B2C salespeople in a consumer electronics store, who often have just one opportunity to close an order with a prospect, dread the ‘be-back’ who consumes 45 minutes of their time to review every facet of a product, and then walks away promising to “be back” after giving it some thought. But doesn’t. B2B salespeople have their own version of the ‘be-back’ in a customer that eagerly takes a first meeting and then, no matter how positive that meeting turns out, goes radio silent. Online marketers deal with the problem of abandoned transactions and ‘be-backs’ many many times every day.

I have found that the best way to deal with the problem of ‘be-backs’ is to eliminate ‘get-backs.’

What is a ‘get-back?’ Everytime a prospect asks a question that a salesperson can’t answer on the spot and they say “I’m sorry I don’t have the answer for that. I’ll have to get back to you” that salesperson is creating a ‘get-back.’

‘Get-backs’ hurt your selling in two ways:

1. They inject unnecessary delay into the customer buying process (i.e. your sales cycle). Taking an extra day, or even an extra hour, to provide information to the prospect that they need now is never a positive. Lengthening the buying process increases the chances that a competitor will jump in and demonstrate the complete responsiveness needed to win the customer’s business.

2. They impede your ability to build trust and confidence with the customer. If your sales people are always having to ‘get back’ to the customer to provide the information they need right now, this means that the prospect has to invest more of their limited time to reach a decision point with you than with your competitors. This means the customer’s experience of working with your company, and the return they earn on the time they have invested with you, is going to be less positive than your competitors’. That is not a good place to be.

Remember, everytime you have a ‘get-back,’ you are disengaging from the prospect. This pause, this momentary momentum crusher, creates an incentive for the prospect to consider alternatives to purchasing from you. Open the door to this possibility and your prospect may very well walk through it.

What can be done to eliminate ‘get-backs?’ In my book, Zero-Time Selling, 10 Essential Steps to Accelerate Every Company’s Sales, I provide a suggestion that many companies have adopted. It is a practice I call Selling with the Sharp End of the Stick. Selling with the Sharp End means that the savvy sales organization places their resources with the deepest product knowledge closest to the point of attack, closest to the customer. For many companies this means upgrading the experience, expertise, and skill set of their sales team to enable them to be immediately responsive to the information requirements of their customers.

Selling is a service that you provide to the customer. Provide great sales service to the customer by being instantly repsonsive to their need for information and you will win more deals in less time.

Andy Paul is author of the award-winning book, Zero-Time Selling: 10 Essential Steps to Accelerate Every Company’s Sales. A frequent speaker, Andy conducts workshops and consults with B2B sales teams of all sizes and shapes to teach them how to sell more by selling faster. Sign up for our monthly newsletter, “The Speed of Selling.” Visit for more.

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