The biggest challenge in sales today is opportunity acquisition. Period.
Your dream clients are busier than ever. They are doing more with fewer resources than ever. They don’t have time to waste with salespeople that are not prepared to create value.
Even though your dream client may be sitting on a pile of cash, they aren’t going to part with that cash unless it’s for something that helps them produce dramatically greater results or creates a strategic advantage.
More and more, companies are only buying when they reach consensus. And because consensus is so hard to reach many no longer bother trying. Unless there’s a burning platform nobody’s going to push for change.
But this isn’t to say that value can’t be created, and it isn’t to say that opportunities don’t exist. It more likely means that there are greater opportunities than ever before. The world economy is worth $80 trillion–there’s a few deals in there for you, I promise.
So, what gives?
Salespeople have been told to stop making phone calls. They’ve been told that picking up the phone no longer works, and they’ve taken the advice of charlatans who prey on their fears and weaknesses.
Salespeople and sales organizations have been sold on the promise of inbound marketing. They’ve been told that lead generation was someone else’s responsibility long enough that they’ve come to believe it. Now they spent too much time talking about the quality of leads rather than working those leads from wherever they find them in the buying cycle.
Sales people have been told that social media is the magic bullet. But some number of salespeople spend too much time on social media and not enough on the telephone, while an equal number of ignore social media altogether and don’t yet have a remotely compelling LinkedIn profile.
Sales managers have been told not to manage activity, to manage outcomes. Good advice–as long as your problem isn’t low activity. And there are no outcomes without activity. It matters just as much that salespeople engage in the right activities as it does that they are effective when doing so.
Salespeople spend more time farming than they do hunting. They spend more time owning transactions than they do owning outcomes–and sometimes they don’t own the right outcomes.
These are the many causes of your opportunity acquisition problem.
I once heard a story of a company that sold their business. The new owners changed everything. The brand suffered, and sales collapsed. The new owners sold it back to the original owner. When they asked him how he restored the business he said, “I made a list of every decision they made, and then I reversed them.”