Often, I get pushback from folks when I talk about leveraging a sales process, developing and documenting a deal strategy, or researching and preparing for sales calls in advance. The arguments usually focus in a few areas, “It restrains my creativity,” “It cramps my style,” “Every situation is different.” The list can go on, but to my mind they are just excuses.
In reality, research, preparation or leveraging a process enables you to get out of your own way. Preparation enables you to be truly present and participate in the meeting or call, or to be responsive to twists and turns in the sales process.
We see it in virtually every “role play,” or deal review, or in “ride alongs” in participating in sales calls with people.
If people haven’t prepared for the call, if they don’t have a written call plan, they are so focused on figuring out or remembering what they should do next, they aren’t present and participating in the call. Consequently, they miss “buying signals.” they miss key clues and opportunities that can enable them to move forward because they are so focused on what’s next.
Calling this out in “role plays” is always fun, the person will absolutely deny missing the buying signals or cues. Then we show them the video–they see their own performance. They see how much they missed and the consequences of missing those.
In ride along’s, we see the same thing—missed opportunities, failure to achieve the goals and objectives, or the worst—the “deer caught in the headlights” stare because they were surprised and haven’t anticipated a concern or objection.
Likewise, as we do deal reviews, we always start at where people are in the process and what the next steps are. If you have a sales process and are using it, this discussion is very easy. The sales process is the road map, so the next steps are clear. Leveraging this frees us up to really drill down to address issues of competitiveness, differentiation, and to explore how we can increase our probability of winning, reduce sales cycle and improve deal profitability. Absent this, we spend all our time talking about what has happened then guessing “how to we respond.” Fundamentally, it’s a defensive, response oriented posture, rather than providing great leadership to the customers.
Preparation enables you to get out of your own way. It frees you up to be nimble, adaptable or responsive in a meeting, in managing every deal.
All of us understand why high performing sports professionals practice, prepare, run plays, watch game video’s and so forth. Likewise, we see military units doing the same thing–enabling them to maximize their performance where it really counts. No one would disagree with the necessity of these for athletes and soldiers. We all know that planning and preparation improve their ability to perform and adapt, doing what’s necessary to win. The constant practice and preparation enables them to adapt and be nimble in the field.
But then we challenge sales people to do the same for the same reasons and it falls on deaf ears. When you assess the research data, it shows that research, planning, and preparation produces significantly better results when compared with sales people don’t do it.
What are you doing to get out of your own way and improve your results?