Sales professionals are always under pressure to build their pipeline and then crush it! But what’s working to really progress leads all the way to the bank? How do you progress deals in today’s uncertain environment. This is what’s working in the teams I’m driving:
- Just because the prospect fills in a form does not mean the prospect is serious. It means they filled in a form. Have your diagnostic questions ready to understand their personal issue. Determine why the issue is happening. History is important. Have they tried to solve the problem before? How did that work out?
- Establish consequences to events and you establish priorities. Weak consequences – weak priorities. Scary consequences (jail, fines, high costs, embarrassing errors, professional incompetance) then magically you get high priorities. Weak priorities will never find approval.
- “No budget” is not a believable excuse until they’ve heard the Return On Investment % your solution delivers. Money can be found just as easily as Budgeted money can be frozen.
- Finding the right problems is the key today. Right = High Priority, Solvable. Then you can decide whether you can solve it. If not, leave the stage politely.
- Every single interaction from early discussions to happy customer is a negotiation. That is why every interaction must end with “Clear Next Steps”. (courtesy of Sandler)
- Build project management time lines and vocabulary into the discussion as early as possible. ie so when do you expect to be using the product/service/machine with your team? You’re not in sales. You’re in the “right problem solutions game” Focus on converting the prospects dream into a reality and you will have a customer for life.
- Only articulate a specific solution when you are clear you understand the specific success criteria required. At this stage you need to be really clear on four things. Does the prospect really believe he has the problem you are about to solve? Is it a high priority? Does he have any money? Does he believe your solution works? (Small guys can win, as a recent FT article stated: “You never get fired for buying from IBM has been the slogan of generations of IT purchasing managers. That conservative mindset is bending, however, as new technologies such as the one championed by Nicira break through.”)
- When it gets to the quote/proposal stage – stop and ask, let’s assume I send you this quote, let me understand in detail what happens next?
- As you send the quote, confirm by phone with the prospect, let say it’s a Friday. “before I send this quote now, can I book your calendar for Monday to touch base with you, make sure you are happy with the details, say 4pm etc ?”
- Confirm with your prospects that “after the quote goes out our protocol is that the Production Director/Sales Director/COO is informed. This means the quote has visibility at a management level and so you’re ok keeping me in the loop of progress, right? Seem fair?”