By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling®
A recent study funded by Microsoft reached what I view as a disturbing conclusion. It found that the average attention span of people has fallen significantly in the last few years. Since 2000 it has decreased by one-third and now stands at 8 seconds. To put that into context, we now have attention spans that are 1 second less than that of a goldfish!
With the proliferation of technology in our lives we’re bombarded by constant interruptions. I can’t help but wonder what the result would have been if it the study had focused solely on senior executives. In my experience, many CEO’s appear to suffer from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. They struggle to stay focused in their stream of conscience existences.
If and when sellers have an opportunity to talk with senior executives, they should be aware of the buyers’ attention span. Failure to do so can lead to dreaded referrals to lower level staff somewhere in the middle of meetings.
Sellers Must Overcome the Buyer’s Attention Deficit
- During calls it’s important to uncover business outcomes buyers want to achieve, crisply help them understand why they can’t be achieved and then provide only the relevant capabilities that are indicated.
- After successful calls it is important to summarize what was discussed via an email and/or letter and specify some next steps because executives usually want to see a path forward. If and when you need to be introduced to lower levels, make sure you maintain a lifeline to the executive by keeping him or her abreast of what you learned.
- While never wanting to put pressure on buyers, in my experience the pace when talking with senior executives often means you have the ability to ask for a commitment sooner. Failure to do so can make opportunities drop off the radar screen.
Studies show decision makers like to be involved early and late in buying cycles. A technique that I’ve found invaluable through the years is to try to establish fairly early on that if a written recommendation needs to be issued, that the decision maker will review a draft copy to ensure the proposal is written and allow any necessary changes to be made. This will mean no surprises to the prospect and allows a seller to get the proposal right the first time. What I find is that once the proposal has been reviewed and any changes have been made, it may be an ideal time to ask for and close the business.