Random Thoughts From The Field – Keeping the Big Picture in Mind

As sales professionals prepare to close out Q3 2010… here are some thoughts to stay on top of the game.

1) Understand Political Structure and Decision Making Hierarchy – Don’t get Blindsided

A brilliant sales job to a prospect that doesn’t make a purchasing decision works… sometimes… but not very often.  If you are investing your own time and energy to proceed down the path of a sale, it is important that you are headed in the right direction.  Until salespeople understand political structure and decision making hierarchy they are lost.  Occasionally salespeople might get lucky and find their way to a closed deal… but most of the time they will just be lost.

Make it a point to have frequent conversations with your prospects to re-affirm and extend your view of their buying process… so you can best plan your sales approach to success.


2) Get To The Point – Early and Often

The amount of useless information in the world doubles every three months.  Yes, I just made that up… to illustrate a point.   Salespeople are the frontline for helping prospects understand and consume the seller’s goods and services.  It is vital that salespeople “contribute to clarity” and not create complexity or waste a prospect’s time with anything but the most straightforward conversation possible.

Marketing and salespeople alike need to stay vigilant on having an easy-to-understand value proposition that can quickly and easily be mapped to a prospect’s needs /  goals / challenges.  Today’s selling winners are salespeople that shed the jargon, useless modifiers, wasted leading statements and get to the point… “Mr. Prospect, I help you do x,y, z… that improves your business in the following ways… a, b, c”.

The a,b,c should be something that your prospect cares about… if not, then find other prospects or a different solution to sell.  Mirror this simplicity through your voicemails, emails, website, powerpoints and documentation.  Keeping it simple and straightforward will accelerate your sales cycle and will clearly establish your unique niche inside your customer’s business plans.

Bringing a current view to this is Anne Miller, author of Metaphorically Speaking, who has written a new book entitled, Make What You Say Pay!.  You can download two chapters here for free.  Thanks to Jill Konrath for the book notification.

3) Establish Your Business Metrics – Learn How to Measure, Evaluate and Improve

I have saved this for last… because it is an area where many selling organizations perform poorly.  Sure, organizations track revenues and the number of deals that closed.  This information rarely provides much insight to performance, although it does a great job of answering the question of whether you passed or failed (the quarterly revenue target).

Salespeople, salaried or not, are independent contractors.  As such, it is vital to recognize that they (you) are running a business… not just going to work.

Establish basic measurement systems for the important milestones of your sales process.  Include your conversion percentage of prospect movement from stage-to-stage of your selling process to understand where you are winning and losing.  Getting a grip here will deliver on your desire to improve and to make more money this year than last year.

Begin with basic activity metrics related to moving prospects through the funnel.  How many calls today, meetings last week, proposals submitted last month, etc.  Then develop more sophisticated metrics that are meaningful to your company’s unique selling process. The benefits that result from this “constant improvement” practice can provide sustenance to press on through difficult times and provide relief from burnout and fatigue.

Take Aways:

  1. Endeavor to quickly understand the buying process and decision makers early in the sales cycle to make your own selling efforts efficient.  Know where you are going… or prioritize finding your best path!
  2. How are you going to help prospect “X”?  Be clear on the answer to this.  Period.  Then restate this information early and often in prospect communications.
  3. Establish a sales process with metrics.  Measure yourself.  Discuss and put in measures to make improvements.  Celebrate your success and analyze your failures.

Incite: to stir up or provoke to action