By Randy Meriwether
As a business executive, the lack of closed business stays either at the top, or close to the top, of the most frustrating experiences in a day to day sales operation. It is especially maddening when it appears there are many opportunities that are seemingly so close to closing.
See if this sounds familiar:
So what went wrong?
What went wrong is that as soon as the CEO and the team leave, the selling is now entrusted to the champion. Seems reasonable enough until the realization that this person is almost certainly terrible at selling, does not thoroughly understand the solution much less the value add, can’t make a business case if their careers depended on it and, most importantly, is torpedoing the opportunity and nobody has any idea it is going on.
Time and time again executives scratch their heads as seemingly “in the bag” opportunities go south.
What they have forgotten is a critically important lesson about selling . . . at least 75 percent of the sale takes place behind the moat, not with the organizations sales efforts.
Often the focus is on the sales process, not the customer’s buying process. As a result, the response becomes oversimplified ways of explaining potentially complex, internal decision making (outsold, not in early enough, too expensive, needed to offer more services, etc.). Some of these certainly influence the outcome, but they do not address the fact that most of the selling is occurring within the customer’s walls.
Clients have made hundreds, maybe thousands of decisions before anyone walked in the door, so be assured the client will be following their own decision making process (whether it is formal or not), which may or may not flange up to the sales process.
How to solve this problem? Nobody can get away from the fact that most of the selling is being done inside the prospective customer’s walls, so get busy improving the internal sell.
Step One: Understand their decision making.
This may seem like an obvious statement, but in going through everything in the sales pipeline right now, is there an explanation of the decision making process within each of those opportunities? Who is involved in the decision making? What is their process? What does each decision maker want out of the solution? Is there someone internally who might be blocking the solution? If there is already a solution in place, someone “owns” that decision and they could still be influencing the decision making process without being in the current decision making matrix.
Step Two: Uncover the Hot Buttons of ALL Decision Makers
There may be a solution which deals with one area of the organization (let’s say supply chain, for example), but who else is needed to get this solution approved? How about finance, operations, IT, other executives, engineering? What does he/she want to see with this solution? Each of these decision makers/influencers is going to potentially be at a meeting where the solution is being decided upon, so make sure they have what they need to make the right decision.
Step Three: Equip the Champion with Tools for Success
Give the champion every kind of “cheat sheet” possible. For instance, have an index card with the “value add” summarized on it, since the champion can’t necessarily pull out a brochure in a meeting when the solution is being discussed. How about three or four slides without a logo or colors on it so the slides can easily be inserted into their own presentations? Think of other creative ways to make sure the true impact of the solution remains intact without individuals putting their own, misinformed spin on it.
Take the time with these relatively simple steps and not only will more deals be closed, but the process will accelerate because of greatly enhancing the buyer’s decision making process . . . something the competitors won’t be doing.
Randy Meriwether is President of Texas-based Applied Acceleration. Meriwether is the author of several sales and marketing strategy books, including the soon to be released, “Don’t be the Fat Guy in the Speedo: Profiting from the New Sales Transparency. How to See YOU Like Your Customers See You.” http://randymeriwether.com/
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