I must review hundreds to thousands of deals every year. Often, sales people struggle, the deal is stalled, they are losing traction, they need to make something happen and move the deal to closure.
Often in reviewing deals, I feel as though I am watching a ping pong game. The sales person does something (ping), the customer responds (pong), the sales person follows up (ping), the customer asks a question (pong), ……..
This can drag on endlessly, or it can stop at any time the customer loses interest. Sales people need to be more purposeful in thinking about their sales strategy. Sales people can’t just respond to the customer, but rather have a strategy for helping move this through the company’s buying process. Customers need and appreciate this leadership, sales management expect this.
Yet, when I review what’s going on, too often, it’s “I’m waiting for the customer to get back to me, I gave them the information they asked for.” I usually say, “What else do you have to do to move this deal through the buying cycle, what’s next?” Too often, this gets a blank stare or a shoulder shrug.
We have to have a deal strategy. We have to know the steps and activities we need to go through with the customer to move them to a final decision. There are lots of ways to develop a deal strategy (and many great sales methodologies to help you out). The cornerstone to every opportunity strategy is the selling process. Your company’s sales process defines, at a high level, the best practices, critical activities and steps to help move the customer through their buying process–effectively and efficiently. The sales methodologies, overlaid on your proprietary process provide tools to help in the execution of the process.
Sales people need to leverage these to drive deals forward.
Sales people often struggle with “what’s next.” In the past, I’ve written, “Start With The End In Mind,” it’s still the best way to leverage your process to drive your sales strategy.
When I work with people in developing their sales strategy, I start with one assumption: The target decision date cannot change! We have to develop our strategies and next steps so that we accomplish everything we necessary by the target decision/close date. Stated differently, we need to make deals happen when they need to happen, not when they happen. Without this thinking, both we and the customer drift–pushing the decision date later, until some critical deadline is reached and passed (resulting in tremendous lost opportunity for the customer and us), or it never happens.
Want to reduce the number of stalled deals or no decisions, make sure you have a sales strategy in place and execute it with precision. Leverage your sales process to provide hints on What’s Next!