As a sales consultant, I get to work with a lot of great companies. One that I’ve worked with over the past few years was in an interesting situation, they were going to buy a new CRM system. Being on the buying end, rather than the selling end was quite a learning experience. The attached presentation is a summary of the sales process and the mistakes made by the three vendors, Salesforce.com, Netsuite, and SugarCRM. It’s interesting reading.Read More
You are the vice president of sales and you are preparing to meet with your CEO to discuss how you will grow revenues by 20% next year. Your CEO wants you to do it with the same headcount as last year. What are you going to do?
There are only four things you can do.
Solution 1: Put more opportunities into your sales pipeline
How do you do that? Think about doubling the number of opportunities per prospect or client. Fully understand the customer’s concept. When talking to a prospect, are you recognizing all the places you could add value? Are there two things they’d buy from you rather than one? What about your client base? Your daily discussions with clients can become a source of leads if you pay attention. Who says that it’s only your sales people who can uncover leads? Whoever touches your customers should be constantly on the lookout for new opportunities. That comes down to recognizing what the customer wants to fix, accomplish, or avoid..
Solution 2: Close deals faster
If your average sales cycle is four months, what would it mean if you closed them in three, or even two months? Easier said than done, but a worthy goal. Are you chasing the right opportunities? Deals with a poor chance of closing are a waste of your time. Define your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP). It’s much more than just your target market. Target markets are solely demographic in nature. The ICP also involves psychographic aspects. For example, for my consulting practice I look for companies that sincerely want to address their revenue issues, not just companies who go through the motions. I can usually gauge their level of sincerity in the first phone call or meeting. Knowing your ICP and evaluating your opportunities against it is the best way to know whether an opportunity is worth pursuing. If you are not wasting your time on bad opportunities, you’ll have more time for the good ones.
Solution 3: Increase your close rate
If you now close 30% of the deals in your pipeline, you can increase it to 40% or more. The best way to do that is to work only on opportunities where you fully understand what the customer wants to do and can connect it directly to what you have to offer. You do this by listening! When you visit a client, who does most of the talking? Are you listening more than you’re talking? Are you waiting to understand the client’s concept fully before giving your pitch? More importantly, are you willing to walk away because you can’t solve the client’s problems? This is a very hard thing to do. However, concentrating on clients with a demonstrable need for what you have to offer will surely raise your close rate.
Solution 4: Negotiate better deals
Most people think negotiating happens at the end of the process, but you are always negotiating. As you ask questions to determine the customer’s concept, you will also discover their other values. They might tell you price is the most important thing, but if you’ve learned that avoiding risk, timeliness, or delivery terms are of critical importance, you’ll have other areas to focus on when it comes time to discuss price. Remember, if you have not differentiated yourself and fully explained your “whole product” in the customer’s mind, they will use their most common tool to decide: price.
Virtually all strategies to grow revenues fit in one of those buckets. Figure out where your biggest opportunity lies and go for it.
I had a tricky twelve footer or so, downhill with a left to right break. I put a good read on it and selected my line, I hit it, a perfect stroke! It was heading right toward the hole and I was convinced it was going in. But, alas, as the golf gods would have it, it broke an inch or so more than I expected in the last foot and just lipped out.
At first I was angry. But, then I thought about it. I had analyzed it correctly. I stroked the put correctly. I had the right line. But, for some reason it didn’t go in. I asked myself what I would have done differently and the answer was “nothing”. So, rather than be angry, I felt good about it.
What does that have to do with selling? A lot! You see, as you get ready for a sales call, you prepare. (You do prepare, right?) You think about who will be at the meeting, what their issues and concerns are, what questions you will ask, and how you’ll present your offering. Sometimes the sales call is successful and sometimes it’s not. Should you be angry if it doesn’t go right? Well, since it’s like putting, if, and that’s a very big question, you prepared correctly and thoroughly, then no, you shouldn’t be angry.
But, that’s the big question. Did you actually prepare as well as you could have?
We at Miller Heiman have a methodology for managing sales calls and “customer focused interactions”, it’s called “Conceptual Selling”. Properly applied, our methodology will ensure that you have prepared correctly. Think of it as a checklist the pilot uses before taking off. Sure, they know to check all that stuff, but having a checklist and forcing them self to check all the important systems before take-off significantly raises the odds of a successful flight.
So, what are some of the things you need to prepare for?
- Do you understand who will be at this meeting, why they want to be there and what they hope to accomplish?
- Do you understand what each person who will be at the meeting wants to fix, accomplish or avoid?
- If there is disagreement among the participants, do you know how you will manage the discussion?
- Do you know enough about their business to be able to show how dealing with you would add value to their business?
- Do you know what criteria you will use to judge whether they are worthy of your selling time?
- Do you know what questions you will ask?
- Do you know what commitment you will ask them for to keep the sale moving forward?
That’s only a small portion of the laundry list. If you’d like to ensure you make more putts, and close more business, then give me a call.