The other day I had one of those Abbot and Costello “Who’s On First” moments. I was doing a review with a sales team. One sales person was presenting some stuff. In my normal rude manner, I interrupted the sales person asking, “What’s the deal?” The sales person misunderstood me, replying, “Nothing, everything’s OK,” to which I responded, “No, what’s the deal?” The conversation went on for a few moments, the sales person kept coming up with different answers, describing different activities, but never answered my question. (I have to admit, I probably extended it, I was having so much fun.)
But the conversation revealed some interesting confusion I’ve seen with too many sales people, managers, and people who work with sales people. “What’s the deal?”
The core of how we spend our time is on deals–opportunities. We find and qualify deals. We execute our sales process to win deals. Virtually, everything else is part of doing deals, or supports our ability to develop and execute deal strategies. But the lack of clarity we have around the “deal” distracts us and everyone involved in the deal.
Our jobs are about deals. Deals are opportunities to help the customer change. They’re all about helping the customer identify a problem or opportunity, creating a compelling desire to change, define what they want to achieve, evaluate alternatives, make a decision, implement, move forward. Deals are very specific, measurable, time bound. They result in a decision that produces wins or losses. When they produce a win, they produce revenue!
Doing deals, winning deals is the only way we create revenue!
But we get confused.
A quote isn’t a deal! It may be something we provide as a part of our process or when we are trying to win a deal. But a quote doesn’t produce revenue.
An account or territory plan is not a deal! Account and territory planning, executing them helps us identify potential new deals. But they aren’t deals and by themselves do not create revenue.
A sales call is not a deal! In executing our deal strategies, we plan and execute sales calls. Sales calls move us through the sales process, hopefully ending with a closing call when we complete the execution of our deal strategy, winning, and producing revenue.
A sales process is about deals! It represents our best practices in developing and executing our deal strategies. It is our roadmap for maximizing our abilities to win a deal.
A pipeline or funnel is not a deal! It is simply a report that provides a snapshot of all the deals we are pursuing, where they are in the sales process, and how they are moving through the sales process. But the pipeline doesn’t produce revenue. Winning deals, one by one, is what produces revenue.
Prospecting is not a deal! It’s about finding new deals, so it’s really important, but it’s not a deal.
We have lots of things that surround our deals or help us in executing our deals. CRM systems, social tools, great content, sales and marketing programs. We have people we can leverage, pre-sales specialists, marketing, product marketing, and others. We need to leverage these to help improve our ability to execute and produce results. But they aren’t deals.
The bulk of our time is (or should be spent) on deals! We have to be very clear about this. When we talk about producing revenue, we have to be talking about deals!
Don’t get me wrong, all the other stuff is important. They help us with deals–either finding them, developing our deal strategies, executing them, or giving us a snapshot of all the deals we are pursuing. But too often, we get diverted. We spend too much of our time on the stuff that surrounds deals rather than focusing on the deals themselves. Sometimes the other stuff is seductive, it may be a little easier to do because we aren’t asking the customer to make a decision. But this stuff doesn’t produce revenue.
So when asked, “What’s the deal,” how do we respond?
It’s pretty easy. A deal has to have a customer–a specific customer or group of people that are interested in changing, in solving a problem. It has to have a beginning (it’s qualified and the customer wants to consider us) and an end (the customer is going to make a decision about what they will do about the issue, including doing nothing). It has to be in our sweet spot, otherwise it’s someone else’s deal, but highly unlikely to be ours. In the end, it has to produce revenue if the customer selects our solution.
If it doesn’t have these characteristics, it’s not a deal. It may be something else, it may be important, but it’s not a deal. And sales people need to focus on deals!
So, What’s The Deal?