The space at the bottom of your sales funnel is just wide enough for you to get a deal through. You can think of the size of the bottom of your sales funnel as your personal sales capacity. It represents your ability to get a deal from target to won.
Most of your deals will fit through your funnel without any trouble at all. The small deals can zip right through without touching either side of the funnel—these deals don’t even begin to push the boundaries of your capacity as a salesperson.
But really big deals are too big to fit through your funnel. In order to get these deals through the funnel, you have to stretch. You have to increase your capacity as a salesperson; this means improving your skills.
A Deal Is a Deal . . . Except When It Isn’t
It is more difficult to obtain the really big opportunities by an order of magnitude over smaller deals. You have to increase your ability to open relationships, knowing that your big deal dream client already belongs to your competitor.
Because your big deal dream client has deep relationships in place, you have to work longer, harder, and more consistently to nurture the relationships that you need to gain an opportunity.
You have to be better than your competitors, and far better than is necessary on smaller opportunities, at obtaining commitments. You have be able to obtain the commitments that allow you to develop your opportunity, working to discover the dissatisfaction that gives your dream client the motivation to change and the rationale for doing so.
There is no single authority on most really big deals. These are complex sales with complex needs and politically complicated buying committees. You have to build the consensus of these buying committees, including all of the decision-influencers and stakeholders. And you have to deal with political realities that don’t accompany smaller deals.
Presenting your solution isn’t enough to win the really big deal. Instead, you have to be able to incorporate the visions of all of the buying committee members and their constituencies with your solution, creating a proposal that they can support, recommend, and later defend.
Then there is the negotiation. Unlike smaller deals, big deals almost always have more complex negotiations. You have to manage risk managers, procurement managers, and legal departments, all of who red line your agreement and change the terms and conditions of your big deal.
And So Your Power Grows
All of these activities stretch your beyond your present capabilities, if you let them. All of these demands on your sales abilities are growth opportunities; they are personal and professional development opportunities.
Once you have stretched the bottom of your funnel open by increasing your sales abilities, you never have to allow it to return to its original capacity. You can continue to push big deals through a bit easier. But if you wait too long, your capacity for big deals will start to return to what it once was, and it will be harder to push really big deals through later.
Working your big deal dream clients through your sales funnel requires that your capacity as a salesperson grow to match the size of your deal. You have to stretch and grow to fit the big deals through.
- What is the average size of the deals in your funnel? What do you have to change to increase the average size of the deals in your sales funnel? What do you have to change to get the really big deal dream clients into the top of your sales funnel?
- What does it take to win your average deal? What does it take to win the really small deals? What would you have to improve in order to win the really big deals, once you have them in your pipeline?
- Do you move from quarter to quarter, from year to year, winning larger and larger dream clients? Has your capacity to sell larger deals increased over time? What changes in your sales skills and attributes have allowed you to win bigger deals? How could you grow from here?
- What do you have to do to ensure that your capacity to win the really big deal dream clients continues to allow you to win these deals? What skills and attributes do you need to maintain and improve as our society, our economy, and business environment change? What is your plan for doing so?
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