The most precious commodity a sales professional enjoys is time!
Where you choose to spend that time is the difference between success and failure.
Your sales process (I use Prime – Diagnostic Questions) should demand that you understand the value proposition you bring to the market. It should demand you are able to articulate outcomes you can achieve for a range of businesses. This is my Discovery Phase. And it’s all about companies. It’s all about where you hang out. It’s all about lakes I want to fish in. It’s all about hanging around companies with the greatest need for change.
But you can’t sell to companies. You sell to people. So finding the right companies is only a methodology to finding your real prospect. The real prospect is a person whose life you have the power to improve. So really good sales processes teach a crucial psychology – moving from Discovery/Company mindsets to Diagnostic/People mindset.
Sales is about moving people not companies. Finding a sponsor, a real person within a relevant company, that will be able to achieve an enhanced performance from your product or service, is the key.
Once you find your sponsor, the dance begins. The following simple little rules will help you clarify you can help this person or not. And if it’s not – leave the stage gracefully explaining why there isn’t a fit. These are the little rules governing the dance:
1. Sponsors can be weak or they can be strong. They are rarely anything else. If they are weak, you will have to support their journey with quality documents, scripts and arguments. And they will have to believe it’s their idea. Strong sponsors will sell on your behalf. Just don’t get in their way.
2. The dance with the sponsor will involve you being credible. The sponsor will be thinking I don’t have the problem you believe you can solve and/or I don’t believe your solution works. Therefore credibility is achieved, not with a monologue of product knowledge, but with a set of insightful questions. Questions designed to show you care about the performance of the sponsor and how to improve that performance (when Gartner focused on the CTO’s agenda instead of the company’s agenda, they saw sales spike).
3. You are diagnosing the sponsor to understand that there is potential for improvement, the issues holding back performance are a priority, your solution can solve those issues and that there is a credible road map to finding the money.
4. If you don’t believe the issues, your questions are uncovering, are a priority for this sponsor, or for potentially any other sponsor in the company, then you are wasting your time. By the way, creating the feeling of urgency is all about making the sponsor aware of bad consequences of doing nothing, which may or may not exist.
5. If you don’t believe the sponsor could ever find the money, then you are wasting your time. Of course there is real skill in discovering who could find the money.
6. Now assuming all of these conditions come together, both sponsor and sales professional start a process of violent agreement and the dance becomes easier. A successful process should get easier the further it progresses. So often in sales the opposite is the case and it never ends well.
These are the components of great collaboration between buyers and sellers. Later stages of the process will involve, the recommended solution, a precise proposal, a purchase order and delivery of successful outcomes, but it all starts with a dance between two people.
Comments are welcome. Reach me at Ian@TPPBoston.com. Transforming visions into remarkable businesses.