Humor-What you should not be doing in December!

December 15, 2009

Here is an except from Garth Moulton’s (founder of JigSaw) recent post on what sales people should avoid doing in December.  His blog can be found at http://www.jigsawsblog.com/garthsworld/

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Dealing with Prospect’s Perception of Risk

October 8, 2009

Bob Apollo has hit the nail on the head with his recent post regarding dealing with “prospect’s perception of risk” http://hub.tm/?rGvIg.  Sales teams that don’t explore the prospect’s perception of risk throughout the buying process risk failure or no decision.  Bob outlines three questions to explore, which expose the impact of the issue being addressed by the buying process:

  • What has caused the issue to become important at this point?
  • Who else is affected or impacted by this issue?
  • What would be the cost/impact of not dealing with this issue?

The answers to these questions will provide a roadmap to other stakeholders, and provide a means to avoid “no decision”. 

 

I recommend expanding Bob’s thesis and including a line of questioning and discussion which will expose the stakeholder’s individual professional and personal “wins” associated with the successful resolution of the problem to be addressed.  By understanding the impact on individual stakeholders, sales teams have an additional qualifier as to the individual and organizational focus on the successful implementation of a solution.

What Business Problem do you Solve?

July 14, 2009

I had a conversation recently with a real sales professional who reminded me in simple and direct terms, what I consider to be an imperative in sales discussions-WHAT BUSINESS PROBLEM DO YOU SOLVE?  He is in the sales training business (http://www.bettersellsolutions.com), and described an exercise with sales teams where he has them write down their best sale in the last six months.  Evidently the responses are 100% similar- “I sold 500 widgets to Acme Technology for XXX,XXX dollars.”  There is never a response that says I saved Acme Technology XXX,XXX dollars by eliminating bottlenecks in their distribution channels, and allowing them to expand into new markets…” 

It is essential to understand the business problem you solve, and drive the qualification discussion to that capability specifically.  In the best case, your discussion will result in a real opportunity that has high visibility within the prospective organization. In the 2nd best case you will know quickly that your capability is not a priority for the prospect,  which will allow you to move on to another prospect.

Top 10 bad questions to ask your prospect!

March 27, 2009

Throughout this blog we have discussed the value of asking insightful, value-added questions to your prospects to establish both your credibility and the credibility of your proposed solution.  Steve Giglio has brilliantly captured the worst questions a sales professional could ask in this economy (or anytime!).

Analyze and Review the FRONT of the Pipeline…Why?

March 25, 2009

The vast majority of pipeline reviews or discussions focus on what’s closing this week, this month or this quarter.  Sales manager’s typically dig in to the details of the latest proposal and associated meetings, calls, and e-mails regarding the transition from proposed business, to a verbal agreement, to contract negotiation and signatures.  Sales executives maintain a similar focus on the “end game” as that is the pre-cursor to “pay day”.  I would not quibble with the notion that such analysis on this portion of the pipeline is important, but I believe it is also a two-edged sword.  Sales organizations that overweight analysis and focus on the bottom of the sales funnel risk erratic monthly or quarterly attainment.  If the sales team develops a group of prospects, moves them through the cycle, and then closes a percentage of  them, the result is that your have superior attainment in the months at the end of the sales cycle duration, and reduced attainment in the interim while the focus returns to the front of the pipeline. 

The best way to smooth out monthly attainment, either as an individual or a team, is to place a significant emphasis on how many new, qualified opportunities are entering the FRONT of the pipe ( top of the funnel) during the review interval.  If your typical sales cycle is 75-90 days, a percentage of the new, qualified opportunities entering the cycle in March are the business that’s closing in June.  If you or your team spends most of March closing January’s new opportunities, and the top of the funnel languishes, then you will have a good March, but a less than stellar May and June.

My contention is that a balanced review of the top, middle, and bottom of the pipeline funnel is the best practice to drive consistent overall performance.  This approach has other benefits including identifying and addressing opportunties that are “stuck” in the middle of the pipeline, as well as providing the sales leadership team immediate notice of a lack of qualified, new opportunities which will negatively impact future attainment.  In this manner, there will be some time to take action.

As my colleague, Dave Kurlan says “the sales pipeline is the single, most accurate predictor of future revenue”.  Let’s give equal time to the FRONT of the pipe!

Pre-call planning is essential!

February 20, 2009

Top sales executives are committed to employing  pre-call planning as the foundation for a successful meeting with a senior executive.  The mission of your meeting is to ensure a continued sales process (assuming your meeting is with a fully qualified prospect).  The mission of the pre-call planning process is to ensure a successful meeting.  To that end, establishing your personal and company value through intelligent questioning, effective objection handling, and reducing or eliminating the feeling of risk for your prospect is essential.   Mary Donato has penned a short but powerful description of a pre-call plan process in a recent Sales and Marketing Management article that I recommend.

When you need to “assume”!

February 17, 2009

Jill Konrath makes a great point (complete with a phone script!) on why you must “assume” some things when calling senior executives. (Why you must assume….) It is crucial to establish yourself as credible immediately.  My strategy is to avoid “telling” the prospect about their business or challenges.  Rather I would start the call with “our customers are telling us how much the economy is impacting their ’09 plans, and how saving money on …….is critical. How are you and your team adjusting to the changing climate?”