It’s a good question every sales person should ask ( before their sales manager does ).
We’ve been working with clients in training and coaching sessions to help people review their order pipelines, and close their prioritised orders before the end of the year.
They are practical sessions, full of depth and learning about real world lessons from the reality of sales activity in their market place. Critically, we focus on clear action plans going forward.
Prioritising is key; focusing time and energy on the most important sales opportunities that will move you towards your overall business objectives (and these might not be the largest orders).
What’s interesting is that there is a theme that emerges when reviewing the larger sales opportunities ( often capital equipment, or contracts ).
There’s a trap that we can all fall into in our enthusiasm with the opportunity;
“Think of the numbers if I bring that in” Kerching!” “That will keep the Sales Director happy.” “Think of the work; that’s an interesting project / great brand / I really want to get my teeth into that” Wow…. “Think of the glory if I win that flagship account”
And so we ask questions about the need, so that we can craft our solution and demonstrate how we can add value and help the customers. We produce great looking documents, and invest time and energy in our sales process. We might even check that we can deliver operationally, we want to cover our bases.
Step into their world
And that’s the fatal flaw – we’ve investing time and energy in OUR sales process without understanding or aligning ourselves to the buyers BUYING process.
In our rush to understand the opportunity and demonstrate how good our products and services are, we can fail to ask enough questions about the buyer’s decision making process.
Do we understand who will be making the purchasing decision, and how they will decide; their timescales and their criteria?
Ironically, these are the questions that we forget to ask when we’ve known a client or a customer for some time. Questions we might ask in our contact with a prospect, when discussing a qualified lead, but ones which we omit in our account management activity, after all we know them and they know us. And then we get upset when we don’t make the sale.
Questions such as
- Is there a budget in place?
- How will you make your decision?
- Who else is involved in deciding…….? What is important to them? What are their concerns? Can we meet them?
- What’s your procurement process?
- What are your timescales?
And questions to ask yourself
- Do we understand the buying roles of key players?
- Do we know who our competitors are?
- Do we have a champion in the client……. and are they well thought of within the client
Closing is a natural outcome from your sales process, but if you haven’t understood your clients buying process, and aligned yourself to it, you might appear too pushy. Agreeing the next steps at each stage of the process is key, what is right for the client, at this stage of their buying process?
Activity and outcome is a theme that we return to more and more in our business and commercial training.
Taking a step back and think about the outcome you need rather than just ticking another thing off your ever expanding to do list.
It’s easy to dissipate our time; tweeting, linkedin, facebook, pinterest, telephone calls, travel, meetings, travel, quotations or proposals, follow up meetings, not to mention travel!
All take time.
How will you be spending yours in the run up to the end of 2016?
Make your activity count; focus on your outcomes.
Wishing you every success.