Social media channels are dominated by top of the pipeline/funnel thinking. The answer to making your numbers is always more demand gen, lead gen and prospecting. There are battles between pundits on which approach is better. For example the traditional prospecting camp and the social selling camp. In reality, we need to do it all.
The message in at least 80% of the articles/books one reads focuses on lead gen, demand gen, and prospecting. Talk to any manager, most will say, “We need more in our pipelines.”
But in, How Do You Win, I suggested our thinking was backwards. Rather than stuffing more into the top of the pipelines, I suggested we are much better off learning how to win the opportunities we have already found, and maximizing the value of each deal.
I won’t rehash everything I wrote in that post, but I suggested we are squandering the opportunities we have, forcing us to prospect more than we really need to. Knowing how to win, enables us to make the most of every opportunity we qualify.
Don’t get me wrong, we need to continually be replenishing our pipelines, we do that by prospecting. But for a given goal, we have to prospect less if we drive our win rates or average deal sizes up.
But knowing how to win is critical for our prospecting results, as well. If we know how to win, we know how to engage our customers in high value creation means. We know what their problems are, what they worry about, how they buy, how they assess the alternatives, how we create value with the customer in their buying process.
The more we know how and why we win, the more we have the actual experience in engaging our customers in their problem solving and buying journeys, the better we can connect with them when we are prospecting.
Customers prefer to let their fingers do the walking through Google. It’s not that they won’t see a sales person, but the digital journey is much more efficient for them. They complain, “sales people don’t know my business or my problems, they don’t know their products and how their products help me address my problems……”
I bet you can see where I’m going………
The answer to the customer problems with sales people is to have sales people who know how to win deals! They’ve been through this cycle many times, they’ve engaged in the questions, they’ve heard the objections, they’ve dealt with competition, they’ve learned how to keep customers moving on their buying journey====and they know how to do that successfully!
The sales person that has a 50% win rate will be a far better prospector than the person with a 20% win rate. They know how to prospect and find the right deals faster, they don’t waste their time prospecting the wrong types of deals. Because of their experience—and success—they will engage the customer in prospecting conversations with far greater credibility.
As a result, just like they don’t squander qualified opportunities, they won’t squander leads or prospecting meetings.
Sales success is less about the volume of activities we do, but it is based on the consistent execution of those activities that cause us to win. And if we don’t know how, we will never be as successful as we should be.
In How Do You Win, I suggested first things first—before you focus on prospecting, make sure you know how to win, at the highest possible value, in the shortest possible time. Do that, and you find you have to prospect less to make your number.
But prospecting is critical! To maximize the results you get from prospecting, you have to first know how to win!
Funny how that works…….
Afterword: If you are an individual contributor or a manager coaching sales people in How To Win, and Prospecting, write me for our Sales Execution Framework (SEF), it’s a simple guide that helps you understand how to maximize your performance and where to focus your efforts to achieve your goals.
Customers who have used this are seeing double digit increases in win rates, double digit increases in average deal size, higher quality more robust pipelines, and higher forecast accuracy. It’s free, just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
After-Afterword: You might start thinking, “What are the implications of this on SDRs?” The SDR role is one of the most important, yet most difficult in the organization. Somehow, I think much of our thinking on this function and how we staff it is backwards. You might want to look at: My $500K SDRs