A reader asked how much time should be spent on each base path in Baseline Selling.  That certainly differs by industry, salesperson and prospect but I can provide you with a few guidelines.

The call to get to 1st Base should not take more than 10 minutes regardless of who you are and what you sell.  The only requirement for booking an appointment is that you identify an issue, find out if they think it’s a problem, ask whether they wish to fix it, and book the appointment.

Getting to 2nd Base is where most of the confusion arises. Salespeople have a tendency to rush this part of the sales cycle and this is the very part that you can’t rush.  Since a motivated prospect easily qualifies and wants to take action, you’ll have a much easier time getting to 3rd base and running home if you do a thorough job on the way to 2nd.  The rule of thumb here is if you want to shorten your sales cycle, slow down on the way to 2nd.  I wouldn’t be surprised if, to be more effective, you spent two hours getting to 2nd Base. On the other hand, some of you can run your entire sales process in 30 minutes and 20 of those minutes would be spent on the way to 2nd base.  Like I said, it depends on you, your industry and your prospect. Some of you may have to run to 2nd base several times with several different prospects in the same account. You all have to be very thorough. Remember, you must uncover their compelling reasons to buy and their compelling reasons to buy from you.  The more compelling it is, the more urgency they’ll have to take action.

Getting to 3rd Base shouldn’t take much time at all, from as little as a few minutes to as much as an hour over a period of a few weeks or months.  Since 3rd Base represents a completely qualified prospect, it may take some time to find the money, get in front of a decision maker, determine whether your solution is a fit for their problem, etc.

Running Home shouldn’t take any longer than you need to demonstrate your capabilities and present your needs and cost appropriate solution in a compelling way.  Let’s suppose you can do that in 30 minutes.

Here are some timeline examples of various ales cycles:

One Call Close – 90 minutes10 min45 min5 min30 min
Two Call Close (1st call 1st to 3rd)10 min60 min15 min30 min
6 Month Sale Cycle (1st call 1st to 2nd)10 min90 min30 min60 min
12 Month Sale Cycle (1st call 1st to 2nd)10 min120 min60 min60 min