It’s approaching the end of the month and quarter. Everywhere I turn, people are focused on closing deals– focused on making the quarterly numbers. I sit in lot of reviews, managers and sales people are focused on deals at the bottom of the funnel. “How do we close this deal, what do we have to do to win, how do we get it this month?” The focus seems to be exclusively at the bottom of the funnel. It’s as though no other opportunity exists.
This month will pass, we’ll enter a new month. Guess what happens—you’ve got it, the focus is on, “How do we close these deals this month?” Again, the focus is at the bottom of the funnel–those last ditch things we have to do to close.
I see so many organizations going through this monthly and quarterly struggle—always focused on the deals for this month, always coming from behind, trying to make their numbers. The problem is, this isn’t where you really win the deals. We’re at the very end of the sales process–there’s not a whole lot we can do to adjust our strategies to win. The time we spend trying to figure out how to win the deal in these last phases is almost too little too late.
Deals are won and lost in the discovery phase of the sales/buying process. This is both where we understand what the customer is trying to achieve, how they will make a decision and what their buying process is. This is also where we have the greatest ability to shape our strategies for the deal–early in the process we can really look at, “What are all the things we need to do, with who?” We get to look at what we can do to align with the customer, how to deal with competition, and all sort of other things. The objective is building a strategy that both maximizes the value we create, our differentiation, our ability to win, and compresses the sales cycle.
In coaching deals, we have the greatest impact when we get ahead of things—just after qualification through the discovery cycle, we have lots of flexibility in what we can to to maximizes our impact in helping our people win. Managers should be biasing their time toward coaching deals in these parts of the sales cycle, yet in most cases, they spend their time where they can have the least impact.
Where are you spending the bulk of your time coaching deals?