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Anthony Iannarino is an international speaker, author, and sales leader. He posts daily sales tips and insights to The Sales Blog.

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The Strategic Power of Generating Possibilities

a goldfish escaping its bowl in a little rocket

It is important that you have a roadmap to guide you through all of the things that move you from target to close, especially the commitments you need. Your sales process, however, by itself is not enough to help guide you to winning new deals. It is necessary, but not sufficient. This is where being strategic in generating possibilities is invaluable.

Methodologies are important, too. Methodologies are different from your sales process. For example, SPIN Selling is a methodology, not a process, as it doesn’t speak to the stages of the sales process. It’s a methodology for asking questions, and for my money, creating a compelling case for change. The Challenger Sale is also a methodology, and a very useful one today. Methodologies are also necessary, but not sufficient.

I would argue that you also need a philosophy of sales. You need a set of beliefs about what is good, and true, and beautiful. You need a set of beliefs that guide how you sell. A lot of what I write here is my personal philosophy of sales and selling, like all things being equal, relationships win, and fast is slow, and if you create value you are entitled to capture a portion thereof.

Another idea that lies outside a process or a methodology  that I would classify as a philosophy is the idea that selling requires the identification and selection from a number of possibilities.

Turn By Turn Directions Are Unavailable

Let’s say you are calling on your dream client. You have a great relationship with the main, decision-making stakeholder. You have also met his boss, and she has agreed to support your initiative. Things have progressed nicely, and according to your sales process, you are right where you want to be. You are certain that you are the preferred choice, and you are very close to winning a deal.

And then, like turning off a light, your main contact tells you that they have decided not to move forward with no further explanation. And then he goes dark.

Your process provides no guidance. Your methodologies don’t touch scenarios like the one described above. In spite of a lack of guidance, you still have to act. This means you need to generate and select from a range of choices.

  • One choice may be to go over your main contact’s head and speak directly to his leader. She has already agreed to support the initiative, and you know it’s important to her. This might be your first idea as to how to get your deal on track, but if it makes you a little nervous, that’s because you know that doing so comes with the risk of completely alienating your main contact.

Maybe you have more ideas.

  • Another choice may be to have someone higher up in your organization call the leader of your dream client’s organization, to go peer to peer, leader to leader. A higher level discussion may be just the thing to put the opportunity back together, and you may have some air cover when your main contact discovers you have gone around him. It wasn’t you, though, was it? You have plausible deniability. Is that enough?

There are still more ideas available to you.

  • What if you went directly to your main contact and asked to understand what changed on his end so that you could better understand what might be done to put the train back on the tracks and help them achieve the outcome they were hot on just days earlier. If you find a way to put things back together it’s a win. If the answer is still “no,” you are no better off than you are right now. It feels like a long shot.

Maybe you need to pursue two of these ideas simultaneously, or maybe you need to generate more ideas.

One of the best ways to make good decisions is to first identify the choices available to you. If you only have one course of action, then the only decision you have to make is whether to take that action or not.

Possibilities provide you with more potential opportunities to succeed, and they often provide you with additional choices should one approach fail.

Possibilities make the impossible possible.

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