No more hour-long meetings, either internally or with prospects. Welcome to the world of the 15-minute sales cycle, where you spend two minutes explaining what you do and the rest of the call focusing on making your prospect’s time productive.
In this episode, I interview Lee West, Managing Director at M-Brain Global, about the sales crisis that precipitated the adoption of the 15-minute sales cycle.
Join us as we discuss:
- The origins of the theory for the 15-minute model
- Asking directly why your prospect took the meeting
- Moving from 50 to 200 meetings per month
- When to spend longer than 15 minutes
- Obstacles to letting go of the hour-long meeting
The theory of the 15-minute model
Can you explain what you do within two minutes?
If not, then you don’t know what you do.
Yet your sales team members are convinced they need an hour to tell your prospect what your company does.
They don’t actually need an hour. That’s a tradition, not a winning sales strategy.
A sales professional will take 20 minutes to set up the company and paint a picture of who you are. By that time, the prospect has zoned out. They’re slyly checking emails on their phone, hoping they can manufacture a crisis and get you out of there.
The fact is, how we sold to corporations a year ago isn’t working. Successful sales pros are shifting, moving their models, reworking their practices.
… Because the world is changing.
Get to the point
Today, 50 is the new 30, $10 is the new $1, and 15 minutes is the new hour. Business is quick and to the point.
We probably knew that change was going on in 2019, but it took 2020 to prove it. When office workers started remote employment, they had less support, fewer colleagues, and a table full of kids to homeschool. So did their prospects.
Nobody had an hour to talk or listen any more.
That’s when Lee started asking, “How can I deliver what’s required in less time?”
Moving from 50 to 200 meetings per month
By using the 15-minute model, Lee jumped from 50 appointments a month to 200. He wasn’t even a sales consultant. In fact, he was spinning lots of different plates and still getting that kind of volume.
He began to teach others about his 15-minute theory.
It wasn’t easy.
In every job, sales pros are taught to follow a pattern — show every slide in the presentation. Show them all again. Talk about them in detail. Go through the whole speech like a robot. Do it again if necessary.
No, no, no.
It took a month of looking at the numbers and listening to Lee’s ideas before the people around him started to change their habits.
What reps love
First, they realized they could skip the 20-minute intro and get right to the juicy part of the conversation. In no time, they had a yes or a no from the prospect. That straight-to-the-point approach created energy.
When you’re a business looking to grow, do you really want your sales team spending hours and hours going nowhere? Or would you like them to spend 15 minutes going somewhere?
Why did your prospect take this meeting?
Find out right away: Why did this C-level executive take 15 minutes to give you a meeting?
Don’t be scared to go there. Just say, “Can I ask why you took this meeting?”
When they tell you why, then say, “Great! Let’s spend 15 minutes talking about that.”
You’ll discover if there’s synergy, get your yes/no answer, and move to the next phase of the process.
Obstacles to letting go of the hour-long meeting
Obstacles to the 15-minute meeting fall into two categories — internal and external.
The main external obstacle is cultural. In the Middle East, for example, executives are typically 15-20 minutes late for meetings. Meetings often ramble.
Lee was skeptical about trying the 15-minute approach in that cultural context, but he did it. Surprisingly, people loved it!
Life lesson: Regardless of culture, no one wants to sit in a boring meeting any longer than they have to.
The main internal obstacle is the management and sales teams. A lot of managers believe that a one-hour meeting is an ancient law engraved in stone. They’ve prepared for an hour-long meeting. And by God, they are going to hold an hour-long meeting.
But most preparation is really just guesswork. You’re overthinking it.
Just ask the prospect, “What would you like to talk about? How can we make this a positive 15 minutes for you?”
Lee’s Key Takeaways
- Qualify your leads. Why spend 40 minutes with someone only to discover they’re not interested or not a good fit for your company? You could spend that same time with three prospects, one of which is likely a match.
- Stop hiding behind your presentations. If you’re taking an hour to go through a 15-minute presentation, you’re trying to avoid hearing “no.”
- Be brief.
Check out these resources we mentioned during the podcast:
- Jack: Straight from the Gut by Jack Welch
For more engaging sales conversations, subscribe to The Sales Engagement Podcast on Apple Podcasts, on Spotify, or on our website.