TWO SALES PIPES COLLIDING: AN ART OR A SCIENCE?
Every time I think I have it figured out, the game changes and the rules bend. What worked yesterday to get deals closed now is “blockage” or “obstacles” but on deals that have gone dead for weeks or months, a PO shows up magically in my inbox. Why?
Again, I have no answers but some thoughts. I can’t seem to find two deals, in any of my years as a rep or as a Sales Executive that has gone exactly as planned. They have been close and thankfully I have won more than I have lost. There are repeatable but not actually perfectly reliable to get deals closed.
See I think sales – any sales of any product or service – has two separate and distinct pipelines or processes. There is the science of a sale – the actual stages you and your team take to move through your pipeline. We all have different names and activities but I’ll bet they are like Prospect – Qualification – Presentation/Demo – ID Decision Makers – Proposal – Negotiate – Close. You have sub-activities like trials and power points, quotes and references etc. but each thing YOU deliver moves the deal to the NEXT step.
Or does it? Why does it sometimes seem your prospect is behind where you are in the same sales cycle? How can they be, they have done the same steps you did right? WRONG – I think they work on the ART of the deal – how do they feel that day? Not even so much about you and your offering but in general – Are there other pressing priorities that make talking with you less important? Their job remember is not to buy your products – their job is to build widgets or collect money or save the world.
Getting the two to line up is the silver bullet. There are so many tools to help us achieve success today that you must be using them or evaluating them NOW. Data and Metrics are literally at your fingertips and that of your sales team – make them use it! I make our teams research both contacts and companies more than I ever have before that first call and at every stage of our cycle. If you can change the game with your clients from one where they WANT your tools to one where they NEED your tools you will sell more. They will only feel they need it if you add real value and that expertise only comes from combining data from lots of various sources to present a real story or use case that your prospect feels set you apart. Clients will pay more for what they need than what they want, and procurement will result in less leverage to negotiate. For us salespeople that is the true Win-Win.
By the way, this ART can also be used internally. If your reps feel like they can win a deal WITHOUT doing all the steps – LET THEM! Maybe a contact moved from one company to another and is ready to buy now – maybe someone might trust who you are and what you do without a 90-day trial. A wise man once told me money in the bank is worth more than pipeline on paper. So, let them work the deal – if they feel it, it will come. Time to go check my inbox…
Tom Ericson – VP SALES – Splash Business Intelligence Inc