There are two major categories of outcomes that are necessary for success in sales. The more time and energy you devote to these two categories, the greater your success. Avoiding these two categories, spending too little time, and an inadequate amount of effort to pursue these outcomes will cause you to struggle and eventually fail.
You will never close an opportunity without first creating it.
Territory and Account Plan: You need a territory and account plan to guide your effort in deciding where you are going to find these opportunities and your strategy for helping compel them to change. The work that you do here every ninety days or so is your plan for reaching your goals.
Trading Value: You need a value proposition that is strong enough that your clients and prospective clients will agree to meet with you. Your dream clients reject your request for a meeting because they believe you are going to waste their time.
Prospecting Sequence: If you are a B2B salesperson in a role that requires you to be consultative and displace your competition to win big deals, you are going to need a professional plan to persist in pursuing a meeting, one that projects that you are going to create value for your contacts and helps you become known as someone with good ideas and a deep understanding of how to produce certain results.
Discovery Methodology: So much has changed in sales that it is no longer valuable to assume your prospective clients are already dissatisfied and that all you need to do is ask them what’s keeping them up at night or what they wish their existing supplier would improve. Much of the time, you will be required to use an approach that allows you to create a gap between their current results and their future potential. In useful discovery, you and your client both make discoveries.
Prospecting: While all of these tools are important, you are going to have to pick up the phone, make cold calls, leave voicemail messages, send follow up emails, connect on LinkedIn, and anything else that allows you to get a meeting. Spending too little time will harm your results, as will being ineffective in creating new opportunities.
Even if you are not in something you would describe as a complex sale, selling has become much more complicated. The sales conversation has always been nonlinear, but it has increasingly become more so over time.
A Strategy for Controlling the Process: When something is nonlinear, it’s necessary to have a linear map of the process and a list of outcomes you need to achieve, even if the actual conversations don’t follow a direct path from point A to point B. It is equally important to have a strategy for ensuring you and your prospective client make and keep the commitments to those conversations and outcomes.
A Method for Building Consensus: First, there is the challenge of identifying the stakeholders who need to engage in the sales conversation. Then there is the challenge of bringing them into the conversation, sometimes over your main contact’s objections. Even though no one is likely to be “the decision-maker,” someone is going to sign a contract, and someone will approve them doing so. However, what is most difficult is developing a solution that enough people can agree to that you win their business.
A Collaborative Approach to Solution Design: One of the mistakes that cost salespeople deals is avoiding the work and modifying their solution so that it works for their clients. While you may know what the right solution needs to be, your client knows how it needs to work in their company and what is going to be necessary for their team to say yes.
An Opportunity to Resolve Concerns: In major decisions, the kind that comes with negative consequences for being wrong, it is normal for people to have concerns. Leaving those concerns unaddressed or unresolved makes it more likely that you fail to win your client’s business, and they continue doing things the way they were before they met you.
Consultative Negotiation: You will be asked about the investment you are asking your client to make. You need to be able to defend the investment and the results, ensuring your client invests the appropriate amount ensuring you can deliver the outcomes they need.
All of these activities require meetings, conversations, and commitments. The first three items under opportunity creation are tools, and only prospecting is an activity. The second set of tools is a list of meetings and outcomes that resemble how you win deals. The more time you spend on the phone or in meetings, the more certain your sales success will be. The less time you spend in these activities, the more you will struggle.
There is nothing in your email inbox that deserves more attention than the two primary outcomes that are opportunity creation and opportunity capture. There are very few, if any, conversations that are more important than the ones you have with your clients and prospective clients. While there are limitless distractions available to you that might look and feel like work, if they do not contribute to these two outcomes, you should spend as little time as possible on them and ignore them until you have done the work of creating and winning opportunities.
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Filed under: Sales