The Shocking Truth About Your Sales Process
Several years back, a national consulting organization was ready to close a complex sale with a major prospect. A lot rode on the sale because it would put the organization on the map from a client referral standpoint.
The consultant handling the sale, a man I’ll call Bill, believed he had every reason to win the deal. In fact, he was extremely confident about it. He had been discussing his solution with top management for months and, as the deal moved ahead, he continued to remain confident.
The human-resource vice president, and many executives who would use Bill’s solution, seemed onboard with his recommendation.
Bill was even a member of the same country club as the CEO, and had played golf with him in a number of the club events. On one occasion at the club, Bill mentioned the project to the CEO, who told Bill that his senior team was behind the solution.
With a high six-figure commission lined up, Bill was already eyeing the new 500 S Mercedes as his reward for the sale.
Did I mention that Bill’s organization specialized in complex financial solutions?
Bill’s company was in competition for the sale, but that was normal when selling to Fortune 1000 companies. He was aware of a couple of smaller competitors involved, but not concerned about them because they didn’t have the resources of his company.
Based on Bill’s last meeting, management was very receptive to his proposal. No worries on competition, he thought. From what the company told him, his resources were far superior to the competition. Again, no worries, he thought. He was antsy to start driving his new Mercedes.
What Bill didn’t know was the competitor had one major advantage over him. The competitor had developed a process to identify the critical buying influences and personal wins within prospect companies. What’s more, the competitor tackled every opportunity strategically.
Bill still felt safe. He knew the competition had yet to meet with the CEO, as he did. After all, he did belong to the same country club and share community involvement with the CEO.
Doesn’t that speak volumes?
Again, what Bill didn’t know: the competition pinpointed early on exactly who would give final approval, and discovered through its process that an outside consultant was well regarded and respected by the company due to his expertise. Also, he was a former employee.
The company valued the consultant’s input such that it relied on him for help in making its decision. Bill failed to identify this key person, let alone meet with him personally. Although the prospect company brought the consultant’s name up several times, Bill completely overlooked his influence.
Looking the Wrong Way
Instead, Bill laser focused on the CEO. You see, the competition already knew the CEO was not involved with the decision. Better yet, the competition did an excellent job of showing the company how their solution matched the needs of the company, and made sure each buying influence was contacted. Everyone on the competitor’s team had personal wins in the prospect company.
The truth is, I am that Bill 25-years ago.And I lost that large sale, a major eye opener.
I didn’t ever want to lose again so I set out to find a way to better manage the sales process.
Hit the Reset Button
Well before I wrote MERGE, I met Stephen Heiman from Miller Heiman. He and his partner, Bob Miller, authored a best-selling book Strategic Selling that was changing the sales profession as we knew it.
We immediately implemented their strategic ideas and initiatives. Wham! A competitive edge soon followed.
Simply put, we began to carefully identify the right prospects and manage them through the process — through sales funnel, the close and post-sale.
I soon understood, the Miller Heiman model reflects how world-class sales organizations organize their strategies and activities around the prospect, evaluating their progress every step of the way, including dissecting and learning from results.
At its purest level, the Miller Heiman model positions you to clearly understand your prospect/client/customer, and uncover what is going on in their world that may affect their behavior and your interaction. It always puts the customer at the center of all activity.
While this may seem obvious, you would be amazed how few companies know how to organize around their customer. Let me show you the main components of the model.
Once locked onto the center of the wheel, we examine the prospect’s management strategies to ensure they are effective and aligned with the needs of their customers.
From here, we expand the wheel looking inward to the seller’s organization to ensure the entire organization is lined up support and execute against prospect’s management strategies.
At this pivotal point, we’re able to reveal the difference or gap between how your prospect buys verses how you sell.
Once understood, we move on to examine your own management strategies to ensure they are effective and aligned with the needs of your prospect/client/customer.
Most sales organizations believe their strategies do align with prospect companies.
In my experience, they do not.
It’s worth noting that Miller Heiman publishes the largest global research study on sales performance best practices. Send me an email at [email protected] and I’ll forward a copy to you.
I urge you to take time to measure your sales process against world-class best sales practices.
Because the shocking truth about your sales process―if it exists― is that it isn’t working to its full potential. Now don’t you want to know why?
See you on the upside,
P.S. I am happy to say, I am now reconnected with Miller Heiman—PleinAire Strategies, LLC has become a distribution partner. I look forward to teaching and sharing the remarkable insights and strategies of this global leader with my clients.