Want to Win More Sales? Walk Before You Run
An impatient lot, salespeople want to speed up the sales process, close deals faster, and move on to the next opportunity. This conclusion sticks in my mind after observing tens of dozens of sales teams in my career.
Don’t misunderstand; I admire the strong and swift.
But fast isn’t best in B2B complex sales.
While it may seem a bit counterintuitive, one of the best ways to increase revenue and improve deal velocity is to slow down, especially at the early stage in your sales process.
I contend you must slow down to succeed.
When I work with clients to increase sales productivity and improve sales funnel predictability, I see salespeople rush to the proposal stage, eager to get to the close and ask for the business.
Set Your Table Well
Once there, they start to realize they may not have set the stage well. And it’s true. They didn’t discover sufficient compelling reasons for the client to close the deal. They’re not set up to succeed. They’re likely set up to fail.
Remember the last person who told you a joke but messed up the setup. The punch line fell flat, right? It’s like that for an eager salesperson who forgets his set-up.
Even seasoned veterans can fall victim to selling too fast. It’s not easy to slow down and make sure you fully understand your value to the prospect, how he defines value, and what value means for his business.
Sales Benchmark Index indicates that nearly 60 percent of all qualified sales pipeline opportunities end up in no-decision. That means a large percentage of the deals you are working on won’t lead to anything different at the end of the sales process. The percentage rises even higher in some industries I work in, like financial services.
The top problem lies with the salesperson who has not aligned his or her sales process with how their prospect wants to buy. No-decision outcomes occur because the salesperson sells too fast, bringing up solutions before the prospect has a clear vision of his solution to what he wants to fix, accomplish or avoid.
In that ever-important early stage of the sales process, savvy salespeople ask intelligent questions. Ample questions. The questioning process may involve many conversations with as many buying influences as possible to reach the heart of the matter.
Why does this prospect need what I have to offer?
How did he become aware of the issue he faces and has he made a decision to fix it?
Problem Prospect Wants to Solve
Key questions to consider:
How long has the prospect faced this issue? When did he first notice it?
What has he done to try to address it? How has that worked?
How much did that cost him?
- What is he planning to try next?
Impact of Failing to Solve Problem
How will failing to solve the problem impact the prospect financially? (lost sales, increased costs, missed opportunities, upset customers, damage to reputation) Quantify the impact by getting hard numbers, not just adjectives.
- How will it impact prospect’s operations? Does it slow down workflow or lower quality of service? Does it require people to do things they shouldn’t need to do? What would those people do if they were not working on this issue?
Impact on People Who Care About the Problem
Who’s most impacted if the problem is not fixed? At what cost? (could lose job).
Who are the other stakeholders I should talk to?
Will anyone be threatened by our proposal, so I can understand their concerns?
Who is our strongest advocate?
Who has budget authority? How do they typically make this type of decision?
- Who has final sign off?
When pressed by their sales managers, many salespeople cannot answer these questions. They quickly realize that they went through the discovery stage of the sales process way too fast. They did not explore all the issues. They did not quantify all of the compelling reasons to change. They did not meet with all the key buying influencers. They missed most of the critical information.
Have you experienced a situation when you wished you had slowed down and covered more bases earlier on? Perhaps, you closed a deal because of a particular detail you uncovered in your questioning process?
If you slow down to succeed and invest more time in the conversations at the early and mid-stage of the sales process, you will win more complex B2B sales.
Just try walking to the win.
See you on the upside,
For more information, go to www.pleinairestrategies.com
Or call William L. MacDonald in San Diego at PleinAire Strategies LLC at 760.340.4277 or 213.598.4700