What does it mean to giver buyers permission to buy? defines permission as “authorization granted to do something; formal consent.”

As a salesperson, you might not think you need to give buyers permission to buy. They are free to do what they want: buy or not buy, buy from you or buy from your competitor. Where does the concept of permission come in?

It’s not actually permission from you. It’s you as the salesperson helping the buyer to give themselves permission to make the purchase.

Buyers are often more sophisticated than sellers give them credit for. They are also more risk adverse and they will second guess their decisions. Simply stated, buyers are not going to buy until they are comfortable that they have all the information they need to make a good decision.

You as the salesperson can help them get to that point. Here are five ways you can help the buyer give themselves permission to buy from you by ensuring they believe they have all the information they need:

  1. Understand their needs. As you get to know the buyer, ask targeted questions that will help you really understand their needs and the problem they are trying to solve. Use active listening skills and repeat back to the buyer what you think they are saying so they know they are heard.
  1. Build trust. Buyers won’t buy from a salesperson they don’t trust. If a buyer senses the seller is genuinely interested in helping them address a need, he or she is much more receptive to sharing information when asked questions, as well as more likely to trust the salesperson. When a seller appears to be pressuring the buyer to make a decision, the buyer becomes wary of the seller’s intentions and may defer the decision or say no.
  1. Help buyer discover the solution themselves. By building trust and asking the right questions, you will be able to paint an accurate picture of how the buyer will use your product to solve their problem. They need to get to the “aha” moment when they can actually picture who will use the product and how.
  1. Establish value to overcome barriers. Buyers will have barriers based on value. They will do research online on their own to overcome enough of these barriers to be willing to engage in a conversation with a seller—and this conversation is critical. According to an article at com, “Forrester research indicates that the conversation with sales reps is still a strong source of buyer influence.” Once in the conversation, the seller must understand what the buyer perceives as value of the product and build more value on that basis to overcome additional barriers.
  1. The cost of NOT doing business today. There was a time when sellers were encouraged to close early and often. In today’s tight market place, this approach no longer works. Buyers are increasingly risk adverse and decision making has expanded to include a larger group of people. When a salesperson can help the buyer calculate how much waiting will cost them in a week’s time, a month’s time or a year’s time, that dollar value will help underscore the need to close quickly.

As a seller, you’re not the one granting permission to the buyer to buy. But you can help the buyer to give themselves this permission with these five tips.


They called you and asked for a quote. Or information, and a reference. And you had not spoken with them before, whether it was a customer (with a new key player), prospect or suspect.

What did you ask for in return? And what did you then receive?

The dynamic is so basic in sales that it is often skipped. Buyers ask sellers for something in the beginning, middle and end of the buying process, and what do we ask for in return?

Are we asking?

I know what you (the seller) wants. The business, be it the order, the opportunity, the account and/or the whole enchilada.

But it starts in the beginning; the negotiation that is. And how well do you set yourself up for success by staying on par with your buyer?

And what did you get in return?

You just wrapped up the first half of 2019. In the next week or so, you’ll have a full tally of how your sales teams did with top and bottom-line results. For many, the Summer comes in fast and furious as you recover from the mid-year push and assemble your teams to plan for the rest of the year. 

So, exhale for a moment and breathe deeply; now is the time to take a good, hard look at your opportunity pipeline for the balance of 2019. Are there enough qualified opportunities in development to enable you to exceed your revenue plans? Ignore the old adage that you need to have “three times” the revenue in your pipeline to hit your annual plan – it’s not only a bad guess for how to hit your number, but it’s also a dangerous precedent for sellers who aren’t sure what a healthy pipeline actually looks like. 

Here is what your sales leaders need to do NOW to make sure there is enough revenue working: 

  • Establish Qualified Opportunity Criteria: this should have been done by January 1, but if you haven’t done it yet, it’s not too late. Make sure each member of your team knows the criteria required to categorize an opportunity as qualified. (We have done this with our customers, and can send anonymous examples to you by request to
  • Coach Opportunity Development EARLY: don’t wait until the negotiation is coming to a head to parachute in and close the deal for the seller. Salespeople learn nothing from this, except perhaps how you close, which won’t help them when you aren’t there. Set a schedule with each of your reps to coach them on how to successfully navigate their open opportunities, and make sure a complete job is done in early stages. 
  • Practice Skill Conversations: from prospecting to qualification and all the way through negotiation, make sure your team members are fluent in all aspects of the conversations they will have with customers and prospects. Not all sellers need every skill improved; a good benchmark is to pick one skill per rep per month and ensure that it is really mastered. 

Once you have these basics in place, we can look at how to build the right opportunity mix for a healthy, balanced revenue pipeline. But without doing the work to establish opportunity criteria, coaching opportunity development and practicing skill conversations, you’re sure to have some gaps in your pipeline that will make it very difficult to achieve your annual plan. If you do the heavy lifting now, you will avoid the year-end fire drills that many organizations go through to hit their numbers in Q4. 

There’s no set formula or silver bullet for sales success. If there were, sales would be a lot easier! But neither should sales be attempted in a haphazard manner. A set sales process can help to shorten sales cycles and improve productivity, while also giving managers insight into their salespeople’s performance.  

A sales process does more than help salespeople work leads through the buying cycle, however. It helps sales managers make informed decisions too. Specifically, here are five ways a manager can use the sales process to generate revenue more effectively: 

  1. Use objective criteria. Once defined, a sales process provides objective criteria and the framework to make decisions. Say a sales group is underperforming. What numbers or facts are available through the lens of the sales process to pinpoint the problem? From the pipeline or opportunity review standpoint, there are specific data points you can rely on for analysis. Is it in the types of clients they are calling on? Are your sellers getting stuck in prolonged evaluations that never yield a decision? Or is it in the close ratio? It doesn’t matter where the problem is. What matters is that you are able to look at each problem objectively with certain criteria and then correct the course. 
  2. Allocate human and technological resources. How much should you spend to hire and train people? Or how much should be invested in CRM or other sophisticated software tailored to your business? As you pinpoint where bottlenecks exist, the lens you look through will help to determine whether you need people or technology to improve.  
  3. Spot the need for sales training. On the front end of the process, many solid lead generation services exist to help identify qualified opportunities. Usually the challenges that happen toward the end of the selling process stem from the skills of the seller—or lack thereof. With a sales process in place, you can identify weaknesses in your sales team’s skills. Is the problem how they qualify an opportunity and create value on the solution? Do they struggle to effectively negotiate and close? Once you’ve realized the weak areas, you can provide training to overcome them.  
  4. Increase visibility into new areas for growth. This may be viewed as a decision based on gut feel and economic trends, but hard data is needed as well. A sales process delivers the hard data you need about what types of customers are attracted to your product (prospect profile) and why they are attracted (which capabilities and related value). If this data is not captured in a consistent way, then the top management loses connectivity and an ability to analyze trends with proper perspective—leading to poor and costly decisions. 
  5. Lose quickly. This is not a popular topic, but it’s a reality: There are two winners in sales, the vendor who gets the business and the vendor who withdraws quickest from the competition. When you have the necessary insight, you’ll know when to withdraw and get your sales team focused elsewhere. 

This is only a partial list, but it demonstrates that a sales process does more than guide your salespeople to closing. It helps drive revenue in a number of key ways! 

salesIn the song “Cheaper to Keep Her”, the words spell out the trials and tribulations of whether to stay in a bad relationship or make the painful decision to cut ties.

Companies are always looking for a big finish; then the analysis begins.  The bottom line seems to get all the attention.  Did we make more money than we did last year?  Every expense gets the once over.  And the biggest expense in selling is walking around on two legs: the sales force.  The compensation, training, travel and entertainment and benefits all add up to the overall expense.  How can companies rationalize the investment in sales people?  When do Managers make the decision to stick with an average contributor, or move them out of the organization?

The three quantitative measurements in relation to expenses that Management needs to look at are total revenue produced, margin on sales, and the mix of products sold.  There are also important qualitative measurements that should be considered, and they will be addressed in the next article.

1.  Revenue Production:  The most common quantitative analysis done on sales people is at the macro level; did they hit their revenue number for the year?  The challenge is that some of the sellers who drive revenue have huge salaries and some do not.   In sports, the salary (expense) does not necessarily correlate to how well the athlete performs.  In business, the total expense associated with the revenue production must make sense.

2. Margin: A week after Q4 ends, most management teams can see what the net effect of last minute discounting when the reps buckle to pressure to close year end business. The exercise to protect margins should be built into a coaching formula that includes opportunity review. Once this is embedded, the mechanism should allow managers to know the profit that reps can obtain in closing situations.

3.  Product (and Service) Mix: Product mix will show if the sales person is selling the right products to the correct customers.  Let’s say a sales person consistently sells low on a medical device but the consumables for the device are sold at full price.  It will take twice the volume in consumables to make up for a discounted sale of the device.  These numbers tell a story and will point dramatically to drags to the bottom line.

After watching Moneyball,   the movie that documented the notion that winning in baseball boils down to how many players get on base during a game, you would think there is a scientific formula that could provide the answers to controlling selling expenses.  The good news is, for our customers that mechanism is in place.

Once fully implemented, a well created sales process can provide managers with a lens to look at these, and the related qualitative measurements, to determine if they should invest more time in developing sales people. In this capacity, “Cheaper to Keep Her” means continuously developing the skills with the seller to bring their performance up to speed in relation to the 3 areas mentioned above. Otherwise, it may be time to part ways with that employee, and begin the arduous task of replacing them with new talent.


Keeping the pipeline filled with qualified opportunities is one of the toughest things a sales person is required to do.  And just as water in a pipe will follow the path of least resistance, so will a sales person when not kept on task.  It’s like homework in college or that dentist appointment that you’re putting off;   eventually these issues have to be addressed.

But why do today what you can put off until tomorrow?  Introducing the #1 pipeline killer – procrastination.  Just like pressure gets water in a pipe moving, a plan is the best way to prevent procrastination from sneaking in.

Here are 3 ways to bite off a “chewable” plan and keep constantly back filling the pipeline:

  1. Assess Current Customers – in many industries 60-70 % of new revenue is generated from the existing customer base.  These prospects are the most likely to close in a timely, predictable time frame.  Forecasting this revenue is the most accurate.  As a frequent customer of a Brooks Brothers, I was recently contacted by a sales person.  Through our conversation I gathered that I was a targeted customer because I spent $X in their store every year.  They know that I’m already a buyer and with an assigned salesperson they could easily increase those sales.
  2. Assess the Quality of Leads – no matter if leads are given to you or leads are organically generated, the most qualified leads are those with a personal connection.  In today’s world we are interconnected as in no other time in history.  That’s the marvel of social media.  I find in my business that the business-focused social media is very beneficial. Do I know who someone in the company that I’m targeting?  An introduction from a mutual acquaintance turns a cold lead into a really warm lead in an instant.  To spend time most effectively is the name of the game, and one of the ways I do this is with social media.
  3. Assess Progress with a Milestone – This is adding water pressure to the pipe.  The speed and velocity of the water through the pipe depends on pressure.  Sales people need triggers in place that quickly determine the speed and velocity of deal from contact to close.  There needs to be a trigger immediately after the first conversation.  Did the customer share any goals with me?  If so, that’s someone I need to spend more time pursuing.  The best milestone that can provide a great forecasting tool is a Deal Map. This is a document that lists by date and responsibility a map of the deal.  Buyer and seller agree to the terms and proposed timeline of the deal.  When both parties are working off the same document, forecasting probability and close date are easy to determine.

To get to the golden customer sometimes it means you have to sift through 100 not-so-golden ones.  It’s easier to tackle this daunting task with a plan.  As the ancient Chinese philosopher, Lao Tzu, so wisely said, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”