Proactive vs. Reactive Selling

By Bob Beck
To start off the new year it is always a good exercise to assess what is working for you, what’s not working and consider making the required changes that will bring you closer to achieving your goals. From the many sales strategy sessions, we were involved in during 2017, there is overwhelming evidence that shows: sales reps are applying a reactive style of selling and status quo remains the #1 competitor. Let’s make some adjustments to change that.
Beginning with definitions so we are all on the same page; Reactive: Is acting to a situation vs controlling it. Too many sales people that have a reactive mindset see themselves as powerless victims when deals go dark, delay or no decision is made (status quo). It’s always a shock when that happens, and we find ourselves at a loss not sure what to do. We all want to close deals as fast as possible, so we ask questions, listen to the answers, think we are building trust and some kind of positive relationship. We are in a hurry to show the product and think we are being seen as helpful. We will go at the prospect’s pace and their usually “make it up as they go” process, and with the hope the deal closes in a timely manner. If we blindly follow their make up as they go process, not knowing or seeing the entire picture, we now have a make it up as we go sales approach.
Proactive means-creating or controlling a situation by causing something to happen rather than responding. Being proactive minimizes potential negative outcomes and leverages potential positive ones. Being proactive helps you on your journey to becoming a trusted advisor.
A lot of sales people feel by being responsive they are being proactive-almost the opposite is true. That is much more reactive. It is very close to falling under the category of being subservient. You want prospects and clients to like you and buy from you, so you are very responsive to all their requests. You might feel by doing this you are being proactive. That would be wrong. By being proactive up front in a sales pursuit you will cut down the going dark situations and status quo outcomes dramatically.
The Transformational QPQ sales approach is all about creating relationships based on mutual respect by PROACTIVILY creating collaboration between yourself and the prospect or client.
What are we doing most of the time? A client/prospects asked us for something, we respond and WAIT for them to tell us what’s next & when. For the most part when we are reviewing sales pursuits, we review the two or three steps that have occurred in the pursuit and then maybe know what the next step will be. The dates are vague, and the rep rarely seems to know what or when the next several steps in the pursuit will occur. As an example: Lead came in from trade show, called and talked to the lead person (usually not the decision maker), went on site to meet prospect, demo scheduled for next month…
Before you totally engage in a sales pursuit, what should be asked every time: When would you like to have a decision made by? As you are trying to decide, what are the exact steps you are going to go through? Once you get that answer, then we need to put dates to each step. Or ask; What are the exact steps you are going to go through in your evaluation and then assign dates to each step. You now can build a collaborative road map with the prospect.
If they say, “Not sure?”
You’re not working with the right person!
Collaborate with them and create a plan with actions and dates, they can agree to.
If they can’t or won’t do that, then they might just be “kicking tires”.
By doing this they can:
Adhere to an agreed upon schedule
You can focus on and prepare for the next event
You now have the ability to reinforce a timeline
The no decision or status quo outcomes are dramatically reduced
Like everything else we are framing this required process, so it is good for the client or prospect: by having a timeline with dates you explain to the prospect you will make sure your calendar is clear, you will have the right resources at the right time for them and will be ready to give the best information you can, so they can make an informed decision.
There is much more we can discussion on this very important topic. Visit us at


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