Between the Ears

Posted on September 22, 2011. Filed under: Funnel Audits, Lead Generation, Pipeline Measurement, Sales, Sales Funnel, Sales Goals, Sales Management, Sales pipeline, Sales Quota, sales training, Sales Velocity | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

If you’re a VP of sales and you’re thinking about making an investment in sales process or methodology right now it’s probably a stressful decision.  For one it takes a lot of time to think through the possibilities of what could be valuable.  You want to select something that’s going to squarely hit the mark.  It takes a bit of political capital if you’re needing to get financial approval from your boss.  It’s stressful because you’re not 100% sure your team will embrace it or reject it.  Your credibility as a leader could take a hit.

There’s one question that you should ask yourself to help with the decision:   How will it improve how your sales people think, dialogue, plan, and execute around selling?

Take the funnel for instance.  It is still popular to assign percentages on funnel stages.   Early stage sales opportunities might get a 5% or 10% assigned number.  Opportunities that reach a proposal stage might get 50% and one that is in negotiation might get as much as 80% or 90%.  But when asked how these percentages help a salesperson sell the answers are usually weak.  They don’t promote dialogue.  They don’t foster coaching.  They don’t help set strategy.

Another example with the funnel is funnel value.  We call it TVR, Total Viable Revenue.  TVR is the sum of the dollar or euro values of each opportunity that has reached the Commit Funding stage of the customer’s buying process.

With TVR the seller and manager have a powerful piece of information to help the seller plan, organize and prioritize to maximize his or her productivity.  TVR is used with the Funnel Audit to determine a 30 day plan every 30 days for working the funnel.  But even some of my clients fall back into the habit of  cramming the night before the test, completing their Funnel Audit Worksheets the night before.  They’ve missed out on the power of the Audit as a planning and prioritizing process.  When used properly the Audit helps the seller think with structure about his situation, weigh alternatives, assess the best option, and define the plan.

Finally, another example of using information to help you think and strategize better is when a sales process reveals something important about the sale that you had not considered.  Let’s say you had made a few calls on a current customer and thought you had a pretty good idea of the stakeholders involved and their roles in the buying process.  But you assumed that someone in purchasing had the financial authority to commit funding based on past experience with the account.  In a strategy session with your sales manager she convinces you that your purchasing agent doesn’t have this power and you don’t know which stakeholder does.  Now what do you do?

You could do nothing different and proceed as planned.  Or you could meet with the purchasing agent and explore this topic of funding.  By raising the topic you would learn something at least, such as what else is being considered or timing.  But at best you might learn exactly who has that funding authority and even get advice on how to get a meeting with that person.

I haven’t made your decision easy but I hope you put all of your options through the test of how will they help me and my sales team think better, improve dialogue, and ultimately perform the job of selling more effectively.

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Qualify or Disqualify? That is the question.

Posted on March 16, 2011. Filed under: Funnel Audits, Lead Generation, Pipeline Measurement, Sales, Sales Funnel, Sales Management, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , |

I struck a chord with many of you last week when I blogged about the mindset of ‘qualify’ versus ‘disqualify’.  Therefore I have disqualified a few upcoming blog topics in favor of writing more about this comparison.

In my search I looked for clarity in the definitions of qualify and disqualify.  To qualify is ‘to become eligible to do something’.   To disqualify is ‘to debar from a competition because of an infringement of the rules’.  Unfortunately I don’t find either one to have a clear advantage in putting me in the proper mindset.

I don’t claim to be the first author or consultant to wave the disqualifying flag and I don’t claim to own it.  I went back through about 20 books on selling in my library to understand more credibly who is taking this angle and who is not.  I found the word  ‘qualify’ in about 90% of the books I reviewed.  Some of them had chapters devoted to the topic.  In two books the authors’ called it qualifying but their approach to qualifying suggested more of a disqualifying attitude.  This resonates with me.

For most part sellers have been raised in a ‘qualify’ house.  It could be that taking an explicitly disqualification approach rubs us the wrong way.  Salespeople tend to be hopeful and aggressive.  Disqualifying is skeptical or cautious.  We’re also cursed with the blessing of being stubborn.  We don’t want to think (or admit) that we can’t win that deal and we show our faith by pouring ourselves – and sometimes dragging others with us – into the pursuit.

Particularly determined sellers find it hard to take no for an answer.  They are convinced they can win even the ugliest, smelliest deals that most others would have rejected much earlier in the buying process.  The worst thing to happen is winning one RFP out of 29 you blindly responded to.  Like the once in a generation miracle you now have a victory that’s mounted in the bar of fame that proves that your determination pays off.

Your interpretation of what it means to ‘qualify’ is affected by the manager you work for and your company’s sales culture.  If the sales manager looks at your weak, at risk funnel and has a holy s— moment , he might scream that you’ve got to fill that funnel and fast!   When you do a Funnel Audit a month later and it’s loaded with new opportunities he says wow! That’s what I’m talking about.  But often the truth is that funnel is full of made up, ‘unqualified’ opportunities.

So does any of this really make a difference?  Am I making something out of nothing or is there value in adopting a disqualifying approach?  You tell me.  Take the poll, below.  I’ll continue the topic in the next post.

 

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Stop Qualifying and Start Disqualifying Part 2

Posted on March 2, 2011. Filed under: Funnel Audits, Lead Generation, Pipeline Measurement, Sales, Sales forecasting, Sales Funnel, Sales Velocity, Uncategorized | Tags: , , |

Recently I wrote a blog on qualifying sales opportunities. I suggested that you take a disqualifying approach to qualification. It makes you more productive.

One of the ways to make a shift to disqualification is to change your view of ‘qualified’ as a binary thing – that is, shifting your thinking from ‘the sales opportunity is qualified or it’s not’ to thinking of it as qualified to degrees.

In our BuyCycle Funnel™ model there are three funnel stages that serve to qualify to opportunity to progressively higher degrees. The first stage is Problem Recognition. The second stage is Define Economic Consequence. The third stage is Commit Funding. How can you use these stages to disqualify more effectively?

In 15 years of sales consulting the most common challenge I have seen facing salespeople is getting to the person who is authorized to make a purchase. This person is the PFA, person with financial authority. Many times salespeople don’t find this person and therefore don’t sell to him or her. They hold the money authority so it’s obviously a big weakness in the seller’s sales strategy.

Sellers often call on stakeholders other than the PFA because they have easier access to these other stakeholders. These other stakeholders could hold a key to getting to the PFA if they are approached right. Taking a disqualifying approach will help you.

After you’ve confirmed that the stakeholder you call on has a problem but no authority to act on it you have to find out if he or she has incentive or motivation to recommend and fight for change in the organization. Any amount of change will require energy, political capital, and credibility. Is it worth it to this stakeholder? A couple of disqualifying questions might look like this:

“I understand this issue is a hassle for you but honestly is it a hassle enough for others to make it a priority now?

“Whoever has to authorize spending money to buy a new solution here, what reasons would this person have to spend political capital and money to do something about this situation now?”

“Can we talk about the culture of change in your company? What are some things that might be used by other stakeholders to say that now is a bad time to change how the organization approaches this part of the business?”

These non-PFA stakeholders can be crucial to your sales strategy. To disqualify you need information and insight. If this stakeholder has incentive to change she might be useful. Find that out more quickly by disqualifying the opportunity.

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 4 so far )

Stop Qualifying, Start Disqualifying

Posted on February 24, 2011. Filed under: Lead Generation, Pipeline Measurement, Sales Funnel, Sales Management, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , |

Every seller has been told, trained, coached and coddled to qualify his sales opportunities. The better you are at qualification the more productive you’ll be.

The past several years I’ve seen a few books and sales methods that recommend ‘getting to no‘, ‘starting with no’, or just ‘saying no.’ No kidding.

I like this theme in general because in a different, potentially very effective way it reminds us to do things that make us productive when we sell. Things like qualifying effectively, doing discovery, getting to the right stakeholders, and getting commitment throughout the buying process.

Adopting an attitude of ‘no’ is like adopting an attitude of disqualifying sales opportunities instead of qualifying.

For example if you call on a stakeholder who has a problem but no authority to change and you don’t uncover this lack of authority you risk spending way too much time on this person. Repeated calls back to this person might feel like you’re making progress but structurally it’s simple. You’re not. You’re doing a poor job of qualifying. Qualifying questions for me in my business might take the following form:

“So tell me, what is it about your sales funnel process that you’re not satisfied with?”

“It’s affecting your forecasting accuracy you say? How far off are your forecasts typically?”

“Have any of your sales managers mentioned how much time it takes them to do funnel inspections?”

If I hear what I hope to hear I’m tempted to walk away thinking I’ve got a qualified opportunity. I’ll get some valuable information but if I stop here I could be wrong. If I take a disqualifying approach I walk into the call prepared to ask questions that challenge the stakeholder to tell me why they would take the time and energy to act on these needs. These disqualifying questions are looking beyond need to incentive and motivation to change.

Most VPs of Sales will agree or admit that their sales process isn’t 100% satisfying and delivering desired results. There’s always room to improve. But for me to sell the VP the VP has to have energy and motivation to change.

My ‘disqualifying’ type questions might uncover that if they look like this:

“I appreciate you telling me that your forecasting isn’t as accurate as it needs to be. But you said it’s been like this for as a while. What’s the incentive to do something about it now?”

“You said you expect a record year of sales this year. Congratulations. May I ask, what’s the business case for making changes now to your sales process?” Wouldn’t you be concerned that making changes now could jeopardize a good thing?

Let’s say I’m meeting with the stakeholder who has a problem but no authority. Here’s a disqualifying question I might ask:

“I appreciate that you’re having some issues that you’d like resolved. Who else in the company would have to be sold on taking the time and possibly money to fix these issues?

“How would you go about selling these people on a need to change?”

“What incentive would they have to change right now?”

These questions might be subtle but I think they’re subtly significant. Let’s put the burden of proof onto the stakeholders we’re calling on to show us that they have incentive and energy to sponsor change.

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Quick – What month is it? (in your funnel calendar)

Posted on February 9, 2011. Filed under: Funnel Audits, Pipeline Measurement, Sales, Sales forecasting, Sales Funnel, Sales Metrics, Sales Quota, Sales Velocity | Tags: , |

Harry Callahan, played by Clint Eastwood

Image via Wikipedia

Wow!  What a finish!  If you didn’t see the Masters last weekend you missed a thriller.  I can’t believe Johnny Vegas didn’t pull it out, but who besides Gary McCord, Mr. Bikini Wax himself wasn’t shocked at Vegas’s  4 putt on 17?  It goes to show Augusta experience wins out over youth again.

You’re confused I can tell.  The Masters golf tournament didn’t take place last week.  It happens in April and we’ve just stepped into February.   It’s true the calendar says February but there’s another calendar that’s even more important to sellers – it’s the funnel calendar.

Your funnel calendar is the one that is based on how long it takes to discover and close the average sale.  This is commonly called the sales cycle time.  You need to know your funnel calendar to know how much time you have left in the year to find new opportunities and close them to complete your mission of achieving quota.  Any new sales opportunities you find today are not on average likely to close before the funnel date.

To get today’s funnel date you add the average sales cycle time to today’s calendar date.  For example, if you have an average two month sales cycle then your funnel date is April 9.  Any new average sales opportunities that you find today will not likely close before April 9.

Let’s consider a longer sales cycle.  A six month sales cycle means that today’s date on the funnel calendar is August 9.  Any new sales opportunity you find on your funnel today will not likely close before August 9.  How about a really scary example?  A twelve month sales cycle means that any new sales opportunity you find today will not close this year and therefore won’t do anything to help you achieve this year’s quota.

Let’s stick with the six month average sales cycle example.  First determine your funnel health (value) and Target TVR.  Target TVR is the desired size of your funnel at any time during the year.  If you manage to a 50% win rate for Viable deals you need a Target TVR that is twice the amount of your remaining sales to reach quota.  If you’ve got to sell another $500,000 to reach quota then your Target TVR should be a million dollars.

If your TVR is not at a million dollars, you’ve got a TVR Shortfall.  Here’s where it gets interesting.  For a six month sales cycle you have about five months left to make up the TVR Shortfall.  Any new sales opportunity you bring onto your funnel after July, which is six months from today, has to close faster than your average six month selling cycle timeframe to become a sale this year.   Is that possible?  Is it possible to find a new opportunity in early October that will close by December 31?  Anything is possible Superman.  But you’re challenging your law of averages.  As Dirty Harry would say, “Are you feeling lucky? ”

My goal isn’t to shock you as much as help you act on the information.  So what can you do?

What you do is make it a priority to eliminate your TVR Shortfall.  Let’s say your TVR Shortfall is $500,000.  Starting today how long would it take you to find another $500,000 worth of new sales opportunities?  If it takes you five months you’re cutting it close.  If it takes seven months you’re already behind.

Rather than be overwhelmed by a TVR Shortfall steadily chop away at it one month at a time.  If you brought in $100,000 of new TVR each month for the next five months you’d eliminate it.  But you’ve got to make this a priority because the numbers don’t lie.

So get working.  And by the way, don’t forget those Mother’s Day cards guys.

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )

Sales Velocity and the Funnel

Posted on February 2, 2011. Filed under: Funnel Audits, Lead Generation, Pipeline Measurement, Sales, Sales forecasting, Sales Funnel, Sales Goals, Sales Management, Sales Metrics, Sales pipeline, Sales Quota, sales training, Sales Velocity | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

One of my clients, a director of sales, gave me solicited input in a meeting I was preparing to facilitate for him and his colleagues and the VP of Sales last year.  This was an existing Funnel Principle client looking for ways to leverage the system they installed a few years earlier.  “Let’s make sure we talk about sales velocity”, he said.

“Absolutely”, I replied.  Then I asked, “If you had better or more information about sales velocity for your region funnel how would you use that information to manage better?”

He replied almost before I finished the question.  “I don’t know.  But it seems like I should know more about it.”

Metrics like sales velocity are valuable for many reasons.  Whether your company has a sophisticated system of metrics, or keeps metrics to a bare minimum, or has no metrics at all you all share a common need to make the information you gather meaningful to your troops.   Ultimately, their greatest value is the role they play in changing or reinforcing selling behavior.

Funnel value (we call it TVR, Total Viable Revenue) is probably the most common metric that I hear VPs of Sales say they want to have and provide for their salesforce.  I agree it’s a valuable metric but only if it’s acted upon.  I continue to see a gap in having that information and in driving change.  I see two reasons for this.  One is because the users don’t trust the data on their funnels.  Therefore, the funnel value has little credibility.  Two, there’s a lack of connection between funnel value and actions to run a territory.

TVR is a key leading indicator to the true health of a funnel.  It’s all the sales on the funnel that have reached a critical stage of the customer’s buying process called Commit Funding.  At this stage the customer has committed funding and possibly significant resources to making a change one way or another.

The best way to connect TVR to actions is to inspect the funnel regularly and use the information to plan, organize and execute.  Think ‘lean’ for a second.  If a rep’s TVR is in the red, the action plan has to include ways to get it to green.  These ways are tied to working specific accounts and opportunities at specific sections of the funnel, namely the non TVR sections.  These are the early stage opportunities.  You go there first to find more TVR.

An action plan to find more TVR if that’s what the diagnosis suggests is not a loose, airy, feel-good next step kind of thing.  It’s specific and therefore accountable.

It’s the sales manager’s job to help the seller define this plan and keep her accountable to it.

Ain’t rocket science.  But man it is powerful.

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 2 so far )

The VP of Sales as Funnel Coach

Posted on January 27, 2011. Filed under: Funnel Audits, Sales forecasting, Sales Funnel, Sales Goals, Sales Management, Sales Metrics, Sales Quota, sales training, Sales Velocity | Tags: , , , , |

It’s not the will to win, but the will to prepare to win that makes the difference.  Paul Bryant

If you’re VP of sales with sales managers reporting to you how do you coach the funnel for your team?

First, it all starts with you.  If you think that better funnel process across your enterprise will make an important difference you’ve got to do more than write the check to the vendor.  I suggest you think of your mission here as creating a ‘funnel culture’, a term I introduced in my book The Funnel Principle.   At your level of the organization funnel coaching goes beyond your immediate circle of influence – your salesforce.  It crosses naturally into other functions that don’t directly report to you, like marketing, customer service, even manufacturing.  I’ve had three conversations this week alone with people asking how the funnel can help the plant know how much to build.

Creating and driving the culture includes things like this:

Lead by example with Funnel Audits.  If you expect your sales managers to conduct Audits (funnel inspection) every 30 days, you should be Auditing the sales managers with some frequency too.  Even if it’s every other month or even quarterly, this sends the right message to everyone about the importance of this part of the process.  I have a client that is still doing Audits 8 years after the initial roll out.

Offer training and more to the nonsales functions.  Karen,  a VP of North American Sales for a $1B healthcare company had me make a one hour presentation early in the implementation to people that worked in the plant and in other very non-sales type functions.  If there’s even one positive outcome from that short presentation it could easily have a financial benefit to her company.

Introduce the system to national or global accounts.  One of my clients had me design a funnel process to more efficiently coordinate national accounts efforts with the field salesforce.  We published the results of that effort in SAMA’s Velocity magazine.

Get IT to find ways to use technology, like CRM, to help the sellers be more efficient.  Mike Fox, the president and owner of a small HVAC company saw the value of this and had his IT department completely modify the company’s CRM system after we had defined the funnel process.  It’s one of the most efficient CRM funnel tools I’ve seen.

Integrate the funnel into existing business processes.  Mitch, a Worldwide VP of Sales and Applications for a high tech company devoted for one entire year 50% of his bi-weekly worldwide sales call to reinforcing the funnel process we rolled out to his global organization.  It was a tremendous display of leadership of sales process at the highest level.

Much of your role as funnel coach for the VP of Sales is about giving your team the tools it needs and finding ways to reinforce and drive the funnel as a business process.

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Taco Tuesdays for Better Sales Funnel Coaching

Posted on January 27, 2011. Filed under: Funnel Audits, Lead Generation, Pipeline Measurement, Sales, Sales forecasting, Sales Funnel, Sales Goals, Sales Management, Sales Metrics, Sales Quota, sales training, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , |

Our chief want in life is someone who will make us do what we can.   Emerson

Do you dread the question ‘What’s for dinner tonight?’

I’ve got a house full of people who are constantly coming and going.  Me for one (often gone), my wife with her own career, two teenage daughters active in school and athletics, and a son in third grade.  Eating together as a family is hard, but figuring out what to eat is often harder.

Except for Taco Tuesdays.

Someone at my house came up with this brilliant idea to simplify dinner at least one night of the week.  The kids look forward to it.  We plan for it by making sure we don’t run out of ingredients like cheese and hamburger and lettuce.  In a way we’re executing on two important values in our family, eating together and simplifying the process.

Facilitating execution is the third of three key themes for you to get the most from your salespeople.  Depending on who you talk to you’ll likely hear that the lack of sales execution is a major gap in sales effectiveness.  You can relate to this.  Your people often know what to do regarding sales strategies and managing their funnels but they sometimes don’t do what they know they should do.

It’s kind of like that intuition argument.  The salesperson says selling is intuitive to natural born sellers.  Maybe so but I say ‘knowing’ doesn’t guarantee doing, and knowing doesn’t guarantee doing well.

One of the best ways to facilitate sales execution is to have a framework for selling.  Frameworks save you tons of time interpreting what she means and what he means.  Jim Collins devoted an entire book to frameworks for running businesses and you have probably read it (Good To Great).  Frameworks for selling allow you to reinforce a repeatable way of setting strategies and using the funnel.  This has huge value.  You can more easily spot variances in performance.  You can coach more effectively.  For example, if your selling method says you’ve got to discover early the person who has the authority to fund a project and one of your sellers consistently falls short in doing this you know what to focus on with this seller.

Another way to facilitate execution is to have your own version of Taco Tuesdays.  Having a fixed time and date and rhythm of review of deals or inspection of funnels ensures that a regular time for practicing and applying the frameworks for selling will be done.  Funnel inspections (Funnel Audits™) done every month like clockwork facilitates execution throughout the year.  In some ways it’s like going to the golf driving range and practicing.  Show me an accomplished golfer who doesn’t do that.

Facilitating execution is the structure your salespeople need that they’ll never ask for.

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )

The One Time Trust Means Nothing in Sales

Posted on January 26, 2011. Filed under: Funnel Audits, Pipeline Measurement, Sales, Sales forecasting, Sales Funnel, Sales Goals, Sales Management, Sales Metrics, Sales pipeline, Sales Quota, sales training, Sales Velocity | Tags: , , , |

I learn teaching from teachers. I learn golf from golfers. I learn winning from coaches.

Harvey Penick

If you Google ‘challenging assumptions’ you’ll get a ton of hits related to six sigma and lean production.  You’ll also see a lot on the topic of creative problem solving.

The irony of both of these is that it’s tempting to believe that the creative or ‘applied’ approach to a task like setting a sales strategy takes longer than doing it the way you’ve always done it.  The traditional path is the path of least resistance because it’s familiar – but it’s sometimes just a slow ride on the wrong train taking you to the wrong destination.

Your role as sales manager to help sellers get the most from their funnels is to challenge assumptions for the deals they pursue and for the funnel they’re relying on to achieve quota.  What does challenging assumptions look like?  Let me give you an example.

I was coaching a Funnel Audit with a manager and his salesperson.  The salesperson described a deal as being at Stage 3 so the manager simply asked for ‘tangible evidence’.  This is part of our process and both manager and seller were trained in it.  The seller replied but didn’t give tangible evidence.  The manager asked the question again. The seller didn’t give tangible evidence again.  The manager asked a third time and the seller replied in frustration “you’re killing me!”  He then said “Trust me, it’s at Stage 3.”

I’m a big fan of trust.  But I’m an even bigger fan of verifiable trust.  Asking for tangible evidence is asking for verifiable trust that the sale is at stage 3.  Without it the seller is making assumptions.  You must challenge this every time.

How do you challenge assumptions?  There are multiple ways.  One way is to use a process that’s credible in the eyes of the seller.  It’s even better if the company has adopted this process across the enterprise.

With a process it’s less about you the manager and what you think and more about the process tells you.  The process allows you remain independent and unbiased.   With a process you don’t have to get creative with your response a hundred different times – just stick to the process in how you would reply and you’ll be repeatedly effective, on point.  This makes you more productive.

This approach will never fail to produce the information you and your sellers need to set effective sales strategy.  They might push back.  They will test you.  They’ll strike if they smell blood.  Do them a favor.  Hold your ground.  Challenge their assumptions.  And if they’re driving too fast don’t hesitate to shout slow down!

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 3 so far )

What a Teenage Driver Can Teach You about Coaching

Posted on January 24, 2011. Filed under: Funnel Audits, Lead Generation, Pipeline Measurement, Sales, Sales forecasting, Sales Funnel, Sales Goals, Sales Management, Sales pipeline, Sales Quota, sales training, Sales Velocity | Tags: , , , , , |

I absolutely believe that people, unless coached, never reach their maximum potential. Bob Nardelli, former CEO Home Depot

So how do sales managers help their salespeople reach their maximum potential?   By channeling your coaching efforts down three different paths:

  • Promoting discovery
  • Challenging assumptions
  • Facilitating execution

Today’s post explores the path of promoting discovery.

I’ll relate this to my world which might be your world too. I have a teenager learning to drive.  In my state the teenager gets her ‘temps’ and has to put in fifty hours behind the wheel with mom and dad.  For each sortie my daughter takes my wife and I flip a coin to see who gets the wingman assignment.

With my daughter driving down the road, I sit in the crow’s nest playing the role of lookout boy.  Things I have been conditioned to process and assess when I’m driving have suddenly been elevated to orange and red threat level – watch out for people crossing the street at this crosswalk! – don’t assume someone won’t blow through that red light! – watch for black ice there it could be slippery!– look through the turn, not at the turn! – get your hands at 10 and 2 on the wheel! – slow down!

I realize she’s probably retaining 8 ½ % of what I say.  At least that’s an improvement over how much she listened before she started driving.

Your salespeople are in a similar, frenetic zone of selling every day.  They’re multitasking like mad,  managing multiple sales and at different stages of the buying process, trying to log everything into CRM, taking care of issues at key accounts, and more.  At this pace they can easily slip from the sales habits they know they should do.

You can help by promoting discovery.  Let’s say you have ten minutes at the end of a call with one of your reps.  Why not pick a sale she’s working on and go through a ten minute drill to make sure she’s on the right track with her strategy?  You could safely begin with the common mistake many salespeople make – selling to too few stakeholders.  Ask her to quickly state all of the stakeholders that she’s aware of.  If she gives you two you’ve probably found a hole right away.  One way to find other stakeholders is to look for bosses and colleagues.  If you sell to a VP of Sales who does that person report to?  It’s possible the VP will need approval.  What’s your plan to sell through the VP in this case?  Is there a VP of national accounts on a similar level?  Why wouldn’t that person participate in the buying process?  Is there a VP of sales in another region that might be looking at the same situation?

Promoting discovery is more effective when you position it as a ‘net’ to catch stuff the busy seller might miss.  Don’t make your conversations penal.

Your seller knows that personal motivations drive decision making big time, but has he thought through what the motivation might be right now for a key stakeholder?   It’s easy to toss out ‘wants a promotion’ or ‘be seen as a leader’ but the real value is not in knowing the information.  It’s in the stakeholder knowing that you know the information.  Does her strategy include a plan for that?

Finally, helping your sellers see the health of the funnel is critical.  The eye opener though is when you break down the tasks that have to be done to achieve even a short term action plan.  Let’s say your seller needs to add $1M of funnel value.  That could take weeks or months if the average sale is $50,000.  In fact, if he added one sale per week at this level it would take 20 weeks to reach $1M.  That’s 4-5 months, which might be too long.

You’re good at promoting discovery I’m sure.  Remind yourself to make time to do it.

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

« Previous Entries

Liked it here?
Why not try sites on the blogroll...