Your sales process, in part, encapsulates how your company believes it needs to act in order to win deals. It is also more than likely that it contains some of the iron laws and principles of successful selling. Following the ideal operational plan and your company’s doctrine is a great starting point to winning deals and producing sales results. By doing so, you increase your odds of succeeding. But your role in sales doesn’t end there; if it did, anybody could sell.
The real challenges to winning deals begin when your plan and your company’s ideas about sales come into contact with the realities of winning the deal. You have been hired to navigate the messy realties that often bear no resemblance to your plan or your process. Welcome to the big time!
Here is what your company expects of you when you run up against roadblocks (and what you need to expect of yourself).
Follow the Roadmap Until It Doesn’t Work
If your sales process is reasonably well thought out, it contains the big objectives that you need to obtain in order to move a deal from target to close. It can be a source of competitive advantage. It is your job to make your best effort to work the deals through the process, achieving these objectives. This doesn’t mean that your deal will follow a linear progression from A to B to C, but that the objectives need to be pursued and achieved.
You are responsible for recognizing when you have veered off the map into uncharted territory. You are responsible for recognizing when what you are doing is not getting the outcome it was designed to achieve.
It is your job to recognize when the realities of the deal prevent you from advancing it according to your process or your strategy. You are not paid to blindly attempt the same activity with the same failing result. Your company, and especially your sales manager, knows that there is no template that works 100% of the time. They know that there is no single right answer. This is sales in all it’s messy glory!
Your job doesn’t end with recognizing what isn’t working.
You Are Paid to Think
I know that to outsiders it looks like we win deals because of the smile on our faces and the shine on our shoes. I would that were still true. Truth be told, making and managing the complex sale is a thinking person’s game. That’s why you were hired. You weren’t hired to act without thinking.
When your opportunities run into obstacles that prevent them from progressing the way that you would like them to, your job is to notice what isn’t working, and then use all of your initiative and resourcefulness to figure out what will work to get your deal back on track. The answer isn’t always going to be found in your sales process. Sometimes there are sales principles that need to be applied, and sometimes you need to come up with something new, to innovate.
Either way, what you learn needs to be shared with the rest of your team. You need to pass along the lessons that you learn so that you can help to inform your company’s future behavior.
Get the Help You Need
Sometimes your initiative and your resourcefulness isn’t enough. You need the multiplier effect of adding other people’s initiative and resourcefulness to your own. The longer a deal sits stalled, the more likely that it dies. When the deal dies (of neglect or of old age), when you do bring them back to life they come back as newborn opportunities, not the mature opportunity that you thought you had in your pipeline.This means that you have to take whatever action is necessary to keep the deal alive and progressing, never risking it’s death and starting over.
Get help. Your company has resources it can bring to bear on your opportunity. There are other people you can engage and get involved. These people have their own brand of resourcefulness and they have the ideas that you can act on to prevent your deal from stalling. They want to help you. They need to help you. Engage them, whether they are two blocks up on the organizational chart or three blocks down.
Build your network of resourceful, off-the-wall thinkers and come up with the ideas that you need to create value for your dream client and to move the deal forward.
Lead the brainstorming sessions that provide new and alternative actions that may help you to advance your deal.
This is what is expected of you; nothing less will do.
There is no universal deal template and no single solution to winning deals. Your company expects you to know when you are off the roadmap, to be resourceful enough to achieve your outcome anyway, and to get help when you need it.
Why is it important to follow your company’s sales process? What is the value of following a roadmap that includes the outcomes that you need to advance a deal?
What is expected of you when what you are doing isn’t achieving the outcome it was intended to? What is expected of you beyond simply noticing what isn’t working?
How do you exercise your initiative and your resourcefulness to move deals that stall during some stage of the sales process?
How do you share the lessons that you learn across your peer group? How do you work together to build a knowledge base that gives your group access to new ideas and new tools that may move other deals in the future?
What additional resources can you bring to bear on stalled deals? Who at your company can you ask for help? Who has the ability to help you move your deal forward? What stops you from asking them early enough to make a difference?