Welcome to The Pipeline.

Sudden Death Sales – Sales eXchange – 5426

I was watching the Uruguay – Ghana game with a friend on the weekend, (wrong team won).  As they finished the overtime, and went to the penalty shootout, we started comparing the game of soccer to a sale, when he made the comment that I found interesting, he said: “It’s a good thing that sales does not end in sudden death”.   After a minute of thinking it over, I suggested that he was wrong, (after all he picked England coming into tournament) that every sale is a sudden death game.

Like the World Cup, it is not a permanent death; we all know Brazil and Argentina will definitely be back in four years; just as you will be able to revisit the opportunity in the future.  I also want to be clear that it is not about defeating the buyer or customer, but more about two specific facts.  First, assuming the buyer selects an alternative and that other product or service is not a complete bomb, it is very likely that they will be out of the market for a couple years or more.  Second, either you or the rep from the competitor goes home empty handed.  There could be a whole bunch of reasons for this, not all logical or based in fact; just look at the impact the questionable refereeing has had, any number of teams can argue that if not for the referee…, I am sure USA readers are convinced the goal against England was indeed in the net, all subjective and “might-have-been”. 

The more we talked about it the more it became clear that for the time a given opportunity is in play, it is very sudden death event.  There are a number of things you can do to change or salvage things as long as the opportunity is in pay, but once a final decision is made, and the papers signed, it is sudden death.  My comrade of course insisted that there are differences, first on the list for him was “the relationship”.  What relationship, they just picked your competitor, “you go home empty handed”.  Can you see Diego Maradona explaining human aspect of their fate, “we may have lost, but we did the country proud”; or the French coach explaining things to the parliamentary hearing?  It’s about the plan, the skill, the execution, but mostly it is about the win, in sales as in football.  Which would you rather participate in, a meeting to review why you won the sale or a meeting to review why you lost the sale?  (BTW, after July 12, count the number of former team coaches from the final 16).

Part of the issue goes to attitude and passion.  You can see the passion in the players on the pitch, and in sales you can usually spot those sales people who have the passion to deliver, for both the customer and their companies.  It shows in their preparation, practice and readiness.  You can  see who is there to win, and who is there to collect a base salary.

This attitude very much drives behaviour, if you do not play like it is win or die, you will settle for less, and do less, hoping for a bounce, or hoping your “relationship” will tilt things your way.  The flaw with that is your buyer is also accountable to someone, someone other than you, and their ultimate decision will be driven by what they need to live up to that accountability.  It is our job to make them see that we, our product and company are the ones that can deliver, before during and after making the sale.  Anything short of that leads them to buy from someone else, which is why sales is a sudden death game.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

A Random Walk Up Sales Street – 1812

sales exchange

And The Winner Is

We want to congratulate Mark for garnering the most votes in our recent So You ThinQ Can Sell contest.  Mark received a respectable 52% of the vote.  His submission is as follows:

This problem should be confronted making it obvious that the DSS is not considering our offer in an appropriate manner. Yet we have to take care not to upset him in any way that the results are worse. In other words, put the DSS in a position that he has no choice but to agree that our solution is the best and gains the trust of the board and executives.
A presentation should be organized, outside of their offices, and it should include as many of the members of the prospect’s board of directors as possible, C-Level executives and the DSS.
The presentation provides all the details of our solution, why it is the best solution, and addresses all of the possible objectives. If possible, a high level executive from an existing client should be present to endorse our solution.
The objective is to gain the buy in of the executive board, thereby leaving the DSS no choice but to side with the board and executives.
We want to tank all the participants for taking the time to share their ideas on how to resolve our team’s challenge, some were more imaginative than others, while some were less ethical than the rest, but all addressed the issue.  None however were the resolution chosen and executed by the team in question, there were one or two that may appear to be close but, I think all things being equal the actual solution by the real team in question was the most creative and effective given the circumstance.

Here is what the real team did to overcome their challenge:

When we last left our team they were stuck with a Director of Strategic Sourcing that was dead set against their company, product and solution, and as a result they were at risk to loose the deal, and as a result months of effort and no chance of making quota (full details).  Desperate situations call for desperate measures, and our team stepped it up by coming up with something that was brilliant and anything but desperate.

After a full day of strategising, evaluating and re-strategising until they finally decided on a course of ACTION.   They considered everything from giving up to homicide, the latter while appealing did not seem practical, and there was the question of legality.  They did for a minute consider what one of our participants suggested, that is hiring the DSS; but they saw three problems with that.  First the ethics involved, would that eliminate them from the running because of the relationships that would result.  Second, would the buying organization be just so put off that they would still relegate the team to not having an opportunity?  Third, and perhaps the most important, why hire the problem?  Beyond not wanting to look at the guys face anymore than they have to, it was clear that he was not a fair player and willing to put his personal interests and views ahead of the company’s, this was something they did not need or want.  So the idea of offering him employment at their company was rejected.  But the idea of having him employed elsewhere stayed with them.

After more thinking and rethinking, they decided to engage a recruiter and talked up the DSS, his skills and capabilities, and encouraged the recruiter to consider him for any files he may be working on for senior level procurement professionals.  It took about six weeks till the DSS was reviewing an offer from a prospective new employer.   In fact he was on a short list for another opening but at the end all agreed that the second one was a better fit, better pay and career advancement.

The recruiter was never aware of the underlying issue, the DSS never suspected there was an invisible hand helping the hand of fate, and most importantly our team was not only back in the game, but taking the lead position as they were accustomed to.

What’s in Your Pipeline?

Tibor Shanto

So tell us, what do you think of the solution the team came up with? Is it better than what some of the participants suggested or not?

wordpress stat